Exploring bugs in Central Texas through the eyes of a child

Archive for October, 2013

My new neighbor

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Hi, I’m back real quick to tell you about my new neighbor. Meet the tarantula I found tonight in my driveway. He was a pretty good size and he is very good at climbing walls. My dad says he was out hunting for dinner and we should leave him alone. But I wonder if it is actually a girl spider. My question is how can you tell? I’ll have to look this up but right now, it is my bedtime. See you later.

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Monarch Butterflies

SONY DSCHI I’m back to talk about bugs. This time I will write about MONARCH BUTTERFLIES. Monarch butterflies start as eggs and then hatch to caterpillars. When they are caterpillars they like to eat milkweed. A lot. And they become a chrysalis. And then after a lot of days later they hatch out as an adult butterfly. Monarchs migrate north and south with the seasons. They go to Mexico in the winter and north america in the summer.  And one butterfly does not make the entire trip- it takes 3-4 generations (that means it takes a butterfly and her parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents to make one trip.  But one of my questions is do they migrate east and west or in any other part of the world? They are one of the few insects that can cross the Atlantic and have even been found far away from us in a country called New Zealand.

Monarch butterflies stop to feed along the way and they use a part called their proboscis which is like a drinking straw that is all rolled up and they they unroll it and stick it in a flower to get nectar. Do they get pollen? Yes, they also pick up pollen and transfer it around to other flowers to help in pollination.  SONY DSC

My school garden is a Monarch Waystation . That means that we plant the stuff monarchs need on their migration vacation, like milkweed. Here are some photos from our garden, the Titan Garden.

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These monarch caterpillars have filaments at each end.

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Monarch caterpillars have yellow, black and white stripes

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You can see that monarchs have black bands on all of their wings. Queens look similar but don’t have all of the bands.

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A monarch caterpillar enjoying a party on milkweed

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A monarch caterpillar party on a milkweed plant. Monarch caterpillars feed only on milkweed.

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Salt Marsh Moth-so furry!

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Hi, its me and I’m back to talk about bugs.  Today we will talk about the insect above, the salt marsh moth.  I like it because it looks like they have fur on their backs.  And long striped antenna.

I read they can be found year-round in Texas.  As a caterpillar they look really fuzzy brown. They like to eat weeds that are plants. And also some vegetables.  The female moth can lay around 400-1200 eggs in clusters.  How does she do that?

Has anyone else ever seen this moth?  Have you seen the egg clusters?

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Bees buzz my brain!

Hi, I’m back to talk about bugs and this time we are going to talk about bees!!  Honeybees specifically but we also want to know more about native bees and solitary bees. Bees are important because they are the pollinator masters.  I see them all over.  I’ve seen them in the wildflower field at my school.  I’ve seen them on the vegetable plants.  They are all looking for pollen.  Bees store pollen in pollen baskets on their hind legs or under their belly.  It is their job.  Image

Like look at this guy above, he has got a lot of pollen on his leg.  It’s like a backpack, but on your leg, and filled with pollen not your lunchbox. Not all bees live in hives, although honeybees do.  Some are called solitary which means they do not live in hives.

ImageDid you know that all worker bees are female?  Yep. It’s true.

Bees are also dancers.  I know that sounds kind of funny, but guess what- it’s not.  They dance to communicate to show all the other bees where they got the pollen so they can get more.  That means more honey for humans.  yum.

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Do you know some cool things about bees?  Well, tell me in a comment because I want to know more.