31 August 2003

New insect and animal discoveries

1. No-see-ums (Biting Midges) [Taken from a wildlife web site]
North country campers may be surprised to be bitten by tiny insects that can hardly be seen. So minute are these midges, called no-see-ums, that they can easily go through window screens and the mesh of some tents. Also called punkies and sand flies, these 1/10-inch-long critters are the smallest of the northland biters. They belong to the family Ceratopogonidae, which has about 460 North American species. Most feed on nectar. Several midge species will attack other insects. If a mosquito is full of blood, a no-see-um may bite her and steal the blood.
When and how does it bite? A few species of midges go for human blood. The females need protein-rich blood so their eggs can develop. Like mosquitoes, midges feed at dusk. They puncture skin with a pair of mandibles, which look like scissors blades.
Life cycle. Midge eggs are laid in ponds. The larvae look like thin worms. The pupa floats but does not swim. Adults usually emerge in summer and feed in June and July. Adults do not fly far from their breeding grounds. Some people say you can escape from no-see-ums by simply moving a few feet away.
Good news. Thanks to biting midges we have chocolate. One species pollinates cacao trees, the source of chocolate, in lowland tropical forests.

2. The Good News Bee
This bee does not sting but makes quite a loud buzzing sound as it flies around. It tends to speed along, then stop and hover just in front of you (as if it was telling you some good news) and then flies on. They look exactly like a horrible nasty biting wasp.

3. Crawdads
These are like mini crayfish that live in the creeks and streams. Eric and James had a great time exploring with Jonathan Floyd in the creek at the Floyd’s place. They found Crawdads, blue tailed lizards, salamanders, skinks and lots of nifty things.

4. Huge butterflies and Moths
We have seen some really large and beautiful butterflies and moths including the white Webworm Moth, Tiger and Black Swallowtails and others.

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