What To Do With 10-Year-Old When Summer Day Camp Ends Summertime: Get to Know the Bugs That Buzz From Cousin to Cousin

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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’ from cousin to cousin” brings a smile to my overheated face. Warm summer days and nights are perfect for studying all kinds of insects.

Because I am taking steps to make myself inedible to insects (see my article How to Enjoy a Tactic-Free Nature Experience) it is much easier to observe and get to know those who crawl or fly across my path.

Here’s a list of insects you’re likely to see in northeastern North America, and some interesting facts about each as spring turns into summer:

Ant Lion: The larval stage of the tire fly, this million-year-old insect distinguishes itself by digging conical pits in sandy soil. When an ant crosses the edge of this pit, the ground caves in like a funnel, sending the ant to the waiting ant lion.

Ant: This insect uses a chemical scent (pheromone) to mark the trail from a food source to its nest. The ant’s nestmates will follow this trail to the food source. That is why the ants travel in a line.

Bees: Bees also use pheromones to alert insect members to a food source. Honeybees have an internal “clock” set to the 24-hour solar day, so they can maximize nectar collection while flowers are in bloom. Beehives are typically located in the rotten core of a living hardwood tree, such as an oak or maple.

Butterflies: These winged beauties are active during the day, typically keep their wings folded when at rest and have long slender antennae with tapered ends. Beyond that, each species is distinct. The deep purple Mourning Cloak overwinters in northeastern North America. The non-venomous Viceroy Butterfly is so similar to the venomous Monarch Butterfly that it deceives predators.

Daddy Longlegs: This harmless insect has a one-piece body; the body of a spider has two segments. I love the delicate feeling of Daddy Longlegs walking down my arm. The longer legs are the sense organs of this insect. If I clap my hand launching Daddy Longlegs into the air, its body turns into a parachute, guiding this skydiver to earth. This is one of my favorite summer memories.

Earthworms: These worms plow the soil, leaving behind castings rich in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. A good place to see earthworms is any moist ground, such as an open forest, a grassy lawn, a garden – especially after rain. Watch how they move their muscular, segmented bodies. If you see Trash pulling a worm from the ground, you will see that the worm sometimes hangs for breaks. The hairs by which it holds are called setae. Scientists say that if the worm breaks, new segments will grow.

Fireflies: The higher the temperature, the shorter the period between flashes of this insect. When attracting fireflies, notice that each different species of firefly has a distinct pattern of flashing light.

Hornets/Wasps: There are more of these stinging insects flying around late summer, after the workers no longer need to feed to feed the larvae. Unlike Yellowjackets, which build their nests underground, Hornets and Wasps build hanging paper-like nests.

Mosquitoes: Entomologists say that larval mosquitoes live harmlessly in water, adult mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers and when the egg-laying female mosquito bites, it is usually species-specific. Most mosquitoes prefer the blood of other species to humans, but thanks to habitat destruction, we’re often all that’s on the menu.

Moths: These winged insects are typically nocturnal, rest with their wings spread, and have short, feathery antennae. They typically have muted colors and flock to a light source, making them another fun species to study at night. Bats eat moths and so moths have evolved ways to “hear” the bat sound and avoid capture by either fancy flying or by folding their wings and falling to the ground.

Spiders: This is another group with a variety of distinct members. Wolf Spiders do not weave webs at all, but roam for prey. Some spiders weave particular web patterns, others weave particular shapes. Orb Spiders usually live outdoors, while Brown Recluse Spiders can live indoors or outdoors. Besides making spider web art, it is fascinating to watch a spider spin a web. Could you weave so efficiently with yarn?

Water Walkers: These insects use their short front legs to catch their prey, their middle legs as oars and their hind legs as rudders. They can balance on the surface of the water without making ripples. Other insects, including moths, that touch the surface of the water make ripples. These ripples tell the water strider exactly where its food is located. Water striders move by giving a backward thrust with its middle legs, which do create small ripples, but do not break the surface tension of the water.

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