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Summertime: Get to Know the Bugs That Buzz From Cousin to Cousin
I love the poem Summer by Walter Dean Myers.
The line “Bugs buzzin’ to cousin to cousin” brings a smile to my overheated face. Hot summer days and nights are perfect for studying all kinds of insects.
Since I am taking steps to make myself insect inedible (see my article How to Enjoy a Tick-Free Nature Experience) It is very easy to observe and get to know those who crawl or fly in my path.
Here’s a list of insects you may see in northeastern North America and some interesting facts about each as spring turns into summer:
Ant Lion: The larval stage of the lacewing fly, this million-year-old insect isolates itself by excavating cone-shaped burrows in sandy soil. When the ant crosses the edge of the pit, the soil funnels into the cave, sending the ant to a waiting ant lion.
ant: This insect uses a chemical scent (pheromone) to mark its path from the food source to the nest. Ant nest-mates follow these trails to the food source. So ants travel in a single line.
Bees: Bees use pheromones to alert hive members to a food source. Bees’ internal “clock” is tuned to the 24-hour solar day, so they can collect the most nectar when flowers are in bloom. Bee hives are usually located in the decaying core of a living deciduous tree such as an oak or maple.
Butterflies: These winged beauties are active during the day, especially when resting with their wings folded and have long slender antennae. Beyond that, each species is different. The deep purple mourning cloak overwinters in northeastern North America. The non-venomous viceroy butterfly resembles the venomous monarch butterfly in that it fools predators.
Daddy Long Legs: The body of this harmless insect is one piece; The body of a spider has two parts. I love the delicate feel of Daddy Longlace walking my hand. The long legs are the sensory organs of this insect. If I release Daddy Longlegs in the air with my hand, his body turns into a parachute and guides this sky diver to Earth. This is one of my favorite memories of the summer.
Earthworms: These worms plow the soil leaving behind castings rich in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Good places to look for earthworms are moisture-rich soils, such as open forests, grassy lawns, gardens – especially after rain. Watch how they move their muscular, muscular bodies. If you watch a robin pull a worm off the ground, you’ll sometimes see the worm hanging until it breaks. The bristles they hold are called setae. Scientists say that if the worm splits, new segments will grow.
should: The higher the temperature, the shorter the period between flashes. When attracting fireflies, note that each different species of firefly has a different pattern of flashing light.
Hornets/Wasps: These stinging insects are abundant in late summer, once workers no longer need to forage to feed the larvae. Unlike yellow jackets, which nest underground, hornets and wasps build paper-like hanging nests.
mosquitoes: Entomologists say that larval mosquitoes live harmlessly in water, adult mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers, and when a female mosquito lays eggs, it is usually species-specific. Most mosquitoes prefer the blood of other species over humans, but thanks to habitat destruction, we’re often on the menu.
Kite: These winged insects are typically nocturnal, resting with wings spread and short, winged antennae. They typically have less color and tend to move toward light sources, making them another fun species to study at night. Bats eat moths, and so the moths have developed ways to “hear” the bat sonar and avoid capture by either flying fancy or folding their wings and lying on the ground.
Spider: This is another group that has diverse members. Wolf spiders do not weave webs at all, but move around to hunt. Some spiders weave different webs, while others weave different shapes. Orb spiders typically live outdoors, while brown recluse spiders can live indoors or outdoors. In addition to making spider web art, watching spider webs spin is fascinating. Can you knit as skillfully with yarn?
Water Striders: These insects use their short front legs to grasp their prey, the middle legs as oars, and the hind legs as rudders. They can balance on the surface of the water without making waves. Other insects, including moths, which touch the surface of the water, create ripples. Those ripples tell the water strider where its food is. Water striders move by pushing back with their middle legs, which creates small ripples, but does not break the water’s surface tension.
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