10 September 2015

Creepy Crawlies

Pollinate those sunflowers!!!
Ever since my first entomology job in college, I've been fascinated by insects. I still prefer animals with fur or feathers or scales, but bugs, as weird as they are, have been the topic of a lot of the girls' and my study lately.
Playing with a newly transformed cicada.
The girls already recognize a great majority of the insects we come across: June bugs (one of Claire's favorites), praying mantises, cicadas, crickets, hobo spiders, walking sticks, night crawlers, mayflies, fireflies, jumping spiders, stable flies, slugscellar spiders, daddy long legs, swallowtail butterflies, orb spiders, honeybees...the list goes on and on. Thankfully, for those we don't recognize, there's always the internet.
A cute little baby praying mantis.
For example, one of the bugs we kept noticing hanging around this year was a menacing-looking, stripped fly. I didn't think too much of it until I was mowing and passed one that was clutching a honeybee in its arms. With a bit of investigation, we found out it's called a robber or assassin fly and, lucky us, it prefers to nab honeybees for a meal. Usually, I'm all about live and let live but when it's a merciless predator that eats our hardworking bees, I aim to kill.
An assassin fly. Creepy...
So far, it's me: 5, robber flies: 3 (a few have escaped). They're fast and I hear they have a painful bite but I've gotten pretty good at wielding my flip flops as a weapon.
One of the biggest walking sticks we've seen!
Everyone else, especially other, more docile and useful predatory bugs, are welcome to stay. We've had great success with our praying mantis pods which we herd into our garden when they're found. Dragonflies are a fun and welcomed guest as their young prey on mosquito larva and we've seen our fair share of walking sticks trying to escape our notice.
There's a pool party in the cats' bowl every morning.
Sometimes curiosity backfires. Many times, the girls have commandeered my Tupperware or built a Lego prison for insects they've trapped, only to have them brought inside where they escape. It's the price Jack and I pay for our girls being able to have hand-on learning experiences.
The bees getting a much needed drink from a leaky hose.
We've only scratched the surface of our knowledge of bugs but as we learn more, the more interesting they've become. They're a reminder that even the smallest of God's creatures has a part to play and that there's always something to learn and appreciate about the world around us. Even if they are creepy and crawly.

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