Sunday, October 21, 2007

Recent Nature Sightings

We have been spending lots of time outside the past few days. The weather is incredible! It's been in the low to mid-80's. And, we seem to find something amazing every day!

I just corrected my previous post, but the bug above is actually a PECAN weevil, not a boll weevil. I got this information from my County Extension Office when I contacted them.

But, we had so much fun learning about the boll weevil. Tonight, we read, George Washington Carver What Do You See? by Benge and it talked about the boll weevil. (We've studied Carver before and have listened to his story many times on Your Story Hour 7.)

So everywhere he went, Carver urged poor farmers to grow peanuts, but they wouldn't listen to him. That is, until a beetle called the "boll weevil" came along. The boll weevil began eating the cotton crops. Farmers quickly changed their minds about growing peanuts. Soon thousands of acres of peanuts were growing."

Of course, then Carver had to find something to do with these unwanted peanuts. The book goes on to tell how Carver prayed to God asking Him why He made the peanut - and God "went with me back to the laboratory and, together, we got down to work."

Unfortunately, I didn't research the pecan weevil as much and don't have much to tell. They do lay their eggs in the pecans and it ruins them.

One of the 6 Monarch caterpillars we are taking care of inside. We found them last weekend and they have grown so quickly! I think they are about ready to make their chrysalis. They better hurry as I'm running out of leaves and there are 3 more catepillars outside! We're excited and hope we get to see them turn into butterflies. We did this once with a Painted Lady kit, but this is our first time with Monarchs from our backyard.

We believe this is the same cicada we had the other day that drowned and then "came back to life." We found it, lethargic, in the grass yesterday. Last time, Melissa left me this comment: "Jeannie Fulbright has an experiment in her Zoology 1 book where you drowned an insect, then "bring it back to life" by sprinkling salt on it." I'm going to have to find out more about this!
In the past 2 days, we've seen 11 katydids! And, we hadn't seen any before this. So, they must be hatching, I'm guessing. We found both some brown and some green varieties. I did read on this site that Katydids get their name from the way their songs sound. Some katydids have been called long-horned grasshoppers because of their long and slender shape. However, all katydids are more similar and related to crickets than grasshoppers. One of the things that makes them different from their relatives is their antennae which may be two or three times the length of their body. These antennae are covered with sensory receptors that allow katydids to find their way around in the dark, when most of them are active.

Alexandra found this amazing group of about 15 assassin bug nymphs. I'm guessing they'd newly hatched as they were all bunched up together. These have a very painful bite, but they are great for ridding your yard of other pests, so we left them alone. I remember several years ago covering some plants to protect them from one of our rare frosts. When I brought the sheets in and put them in the garage, these nymphs were all over them! I'm so glad I didn't get bit - I didn't even know what they were at the time or that they would bite.


cryssi said...

Cool pictures. Sounds like yall are having alot of fun. If the nymphs are anything like fire ants I can imagine what they feel like. I enjoy reading about your school days. Gives me lots of ideas for mine.


Robin said...

Oh, Dana! I really enjoyed your post today! It was so interesting. I can't wait for GB to wake up so I can show him those nymphs. When I enlarged the picture, you could see all these spiky things on their bodies. So cool! I love how your pictures can do that.
I think it's really neat that you found some monarch caterpillars in your own yard. I'll be watching to see if you can make it work. What kind of container are you keeping them in? And what else is in there besides leaves? Next Spring I'd like to give this activity a try.

lindafay said...

My children and I just LOVE your nature photos. This has inspired them to be more 'buggy!'


live4evermom said...

Love your photos.

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