MTPR

arthropods

Bug Bytes: Bombardier Beetle

May 7, 2019
Bombardier Beetle - Paussinae subfamily, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.
Credit Judy Gallagher [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

If any beetle was said to have an “explosive personality,” it would have to be the bombardier beetle.

They may appear to be your average, everyday beetle, but they’ve got a surprise up their tiny little sleeves — or more accurately, their rear ends. They’ve got some serious junk in the trunk.

Bug Bytes: Moths Vs. Butterflies

May 7, 2019
Assorted Moths (Lepidoptera) in the University of Texas Insect Collection
By Insects Unlocked - CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61293267

In this corner, weighing in with approximately 700 different species in the United States … the Butterflies. And in the opposite corner, weighing in with over 15,000 species in the United States … the Moths.

While butterflies get most of the attention, moths dominate the order Lepidoptera (comprised of moths and butterflies) with 90% of the known species. But when looking at an individual, how can you easily tell which is which?

Bug Bytes: Spider Silk

Feb 5, 2019
Orb weaver spider.
Missoula Insectarium

Thanks to the children’s novel Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, most of us are familiar with the circular shape of an orb weaver spider web. Charlotte certainly had no trouble creating a new web overnight, but it might be more complicated than you think.

Bug Bytes: Mosquitoes

Feb 5, 2019
Mosquito.
PD

Imagine enjoying beautiful summer evenings without the nuisance of mosquitoes.

Humans and other animals know mosquitoes as annoying, buzzing bloodsuckers. Well, at least female mosquitoes are. Only female mosquitoes suck blood, which they need to provision their eggs with essential amino acids.

Bug Bytes: Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Feb 5, 2019
Mourning cloak butterfly.
Missoula Insectarium

If you live in our northern states, some years spring can’t come soon enough. Seeing your first butterfly of the year must be a sure sign that spring has sprung — unless it’s a mourning cloak butterfly.

Mourning cloaks are a type of tortoiseshell butterfly. Along with a handful of butterflies known as anglewings, tortoiseshells are the first butterflies we see flying in late winter or early spring.

Bug Bytes: Antlions

Feb 5, 2019
Antlion.
Missoula Insectarium

If you’re a Star Wars fan, they may remind you of the Sarlacc and its deadly sand pit in the "Return of the Jedi."

In their adult life stage, antlions are pretty innocent. With long, slender abdomens and two pairs of translucent wings, they resemble dragonflies or damselflies and mostly feed on nectar and pollen.

Bug Bytes: Tiger Beetles

Feb 5, 2019
Tiger beetle.
Missoula Insectarium

Imagine a grizzly bear that can run over 135 miles per hour.

Obviously, a grizzly can’t run that fast, but factoring in their smaller size, that’s what tiger beetles are to their potential prey.

Bug Bytes: Parthenogenesis – Walking Sticks

Feb 5, 2019
Austrailian walking sticks.
Missoula Insectarium

When it comes to finding a potential mate for female Australian walking sticks, they can afford to “swipe left” all day.

That’s because many species of walking sticks (or phasmids) are parthenogenic, meaning they can successfully produce offspring without needing to mate. This is a form of asexual reproduction where the growth and development of an embryo occurs without fertilization.

Bug Bytes: Thar She Glows – Scorpions

Feb 5, 2019
All scorpions glow a beautiful blue-green color under ultraviolet light.
Missoula Insectarium

There are nearly 2,000 species of scorpions in the world. And while individual species may live thousands of miles apart, they have one thing in common: they glow a beautiful blue-green color under ultraviolet light.

A thin, transparent film in the outermost layer of their exoskeleton contains a protein that glows when exposed to ultraviolet rays, which are found in regular sunlight.

Bug Bytes: Dragonflies

Feb 5, 2019
Dragonfly
Missoula Insectarium

Beware the dragonfly – This is great advice if you are just about any other flying insect, because dragonflies are incredible predators that rule the buggy skies.

They are considered some of the best hunters in the insect world. Thanks to a combination of amazing eyesight and maneuverability, they catch whatever prey they set their sights on 95 percent of the time.

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