Did you know...
Wedge-shaped beetles (family Ripiphoridae) aren't your average parasites. Their young feed on the larvae of solitary bees, but the mama beetle doesn't make it easy for them. She deposits her eggs on flowers. When the beetle larva emerges, it waits for a visiting bee, and then climbs on her back. The beetle larva clings to the bee during the flight back to her nest, where it disembarks. Only then can the wedge-shaped beetle larva find a host to parasitize.
Boy, does time fly! This is my 250th Bug of the Week challenge. And just think, there's only about 1 million more bugs (by conservative estimates) to go. Do you know what this one is? Post your answer in a comment, and come back next Wednesday for challenge #251.
As for #249? That photo featured the oak timber worm, Arrhenodes minutes, a type of weevil. As you likely suspect from its common name, this weevil is a pest of oak trees. Kudos to Monique for answering correctly.
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
It's Cyber Monday, when millions of holiday shoppers take to the internet to order gifts for family and friends. But what to get for that special someone who loves bugs?
Click over to the Xerces Society website and order a gift that will mean something to both the bug lover and the bugs! The Xerces Society's mission is to protect invertebrates and their habitat, and they've been doing so for over 40 years. Anything you order through their store goes to support this nonprofit's important work. Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Xerces Society, but I think they do good work and want to spread the word.
Does your loved one love bees? You can help Xerces protect pollinators with the perfect gift combo for the bee lover in your family. Purchase a pollinator habitat sign, a copy of Attracting Native Pollinators, and a Xerces membership. Get some honey from your local beekeeper and a few packets of native wildflower seeds, and make a bee-friendly gift basket!
One last look at the new articles published this month on About Insects:
Did you know...
Yes, you read that right, cooloola monsters. That's the common name given to an odd little family of crickets found only in Australia. Just three known species belong to the family Cooloolidae. Cooloola monsters have robust abdomens with stumpy legs, and don't jump like most crickets do.
Need something to do after you've eaten your fill of turkey and stuffing tomorrow? Try to identify this mystery insect! If you know what it is, post your answer in a comment below. Next Wednesday, I'll give you the answer and a new Bug of the Week ID challenge.
Last week's post featured the leopard lacewing butterfly, Cethosia cyane. I photographed this beautiful Asian species at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Photo: Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org
Butterflies collected over a century ago are helping researchers understand the impact of climate change today.
Heather Kharouba, then a doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia, led the study. Scientists from three universities examined over 200 species of butterflies represented in both museum and private insect collections, and referenced collection records spanning over 130 years. The team used the collection data for each butterfly to determine the timing of its flight season. They then compared these flight records with historical weather data.
Kharouba determined that for each degree Celsius of temperature increase, a butterfly's flight season began an average of 2.4 days earlier than it had before. What does this mean for butterflies? Kharouba notes that "This could have several implications for butterflies. If they emerge too early, they could encounter frost and die. Or they might emerge before the food plants they rely on appear and starve." Two days could be the difference between life and death.
Source: Climate change may disrupt butterfly flight seasons, University of British Columbia media release, November 18, 2013
Photo credit: © Heather Kharouba/UBC Science
Did you know...
Hilltopping is an interesting behavior employed by some insects, in which males and females gather on a summit to mate. Why would insects fly to the top of a hill or mountain to reproduce? This behavior is typically seen in species that depend on rare plants or prey for their food. Because they rely on scattered or scarce food sources, the individuals of the species tend to be spread over a larger geographic area than other insects for which resources are plentiful. This makes it tough to find a mate. So, these insects instinctively meet on a mountaintop when it comes time to reproduce.
Here's your Bug of the Week! I almost always post a North American species for the weekly insect identification challenge, but this creature hails from Asia. Think you can figure out what it is? Post your answer in a comment, please.
Last week's photo featured the kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria. This exotic, invasive insect from Asia is a nuisance to homeowners, as it likes to seek shelter on or in people's homes in the fall. It's also a serious pest of soybeans. Kudos to Moni for correctly identifying this pest.
Photo: Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey
Yesterday, it was 70 degrees in my area, but forecasters predict temperatures will drop 30 degrees over the next day or so. It's hard to adjust from wearing shorts and sandals to socks and sweatshirts so quickly. At least I'm warm-blooded. Insects can't regulate their own body temperatures the way we can, making this sudden seasonal change even more challenging to the 6-legged critters among us.
Many insects around my yard are adjusting to the change in weather by forcing their way indoors. My basement is full of chirping crickets, and my bedroom windows are crawling with stink bugs and lady beetles.
If you're battling bugs in your home, it's time to do a little house maintenance. Follow my advice in 15 Ways to Bug Proof Your Home, and the stink bugs and other home invaders will go knocking at your neighbor's house instead.