Tag archives for Bugs
If you have ever eaten a bug, chances are it was on a dare! According to the United Nations, though, we should all start eating more bugs. About two billion people across the globe eat insects.
Why eat bugs? They’re high in protein, an important building block for the human body. You don’t need to feed bugs as much as livestock such as chickens or cows. Plus, eating bugs is a more environmentally friendly way to get rid of extra bugs than pesticide!
This spring, swarms of periodical cicadas will emerge on the east coast of the United States. These Brood II (or Brood 2), 1.5-inch long cicadas spend most of their lives underground, coming to the surface 17 years after they were laid as eggs by their mother! The cicadas start appearing after the temperature in the ground rises to 64°F. The year’s first cicadas have been spotted in the last few days.
They don’t sting or bite, but there will be millions of them crawling and flying around.
BOOK NAME: Masterpiece
AUTHOR: Elise Broach
After reading this book, you will never look at a beetle the same way again! Meet Marvin, a beetle living in a New York City apartment who is content with his normal life as a bug. But everything changes when the boy in the apartment, James, gets an ink set for his birthday. Suddenly Marvin discovers a talent he possesses, drawing! He dips his feet in the leftover ink and starts drawing miniature pictures. The drawings he makes are the bug size equivalent of regular art and so he makes miniature masterpieces. But all too soon, his amazing skill gets him into a heap of trouble. His parents warn him not to get mixed up in the world of humans, but it’s too late. With help from James, he manages to make a difference in the art world. In the process, Marvin not only learns a lot about humans, but also a lot about himself.
This was a book that I thought was really well rounded and would please a lot of bookworms. As a Rebecca Caudill nominee for 2012, I knew it would not be disappointing (I recommend you also read the other Caudill nominations since they always make for a good read). This charming story gets you to stop and think about what life is like for a bug. I love how you get to live the adventure through the eyes of a beetle and wonder what it would be like to live life miniature style. It definitely makes you appreciate the smaller things in life! Masterpiece would make for a great book to read over the summer. It’s fun, with just enough suspense to keep you turning the pages.
The tamarisk tree was brought to the United States in the 1800s as a decorative tree, and it was also used to help stabilize the soil on rivers. The tree has thrived in the southwest, crowding out native trees. For many years, biologists have removed the invasive trees by digging them up or using herbicides In 2001, land managers began releasing imported salt cedar leaf beetles in an attempt to help stop the spread of the trees (tamarisk trees are also called salt cedars).
The beetles are doing their job more effectively than expected and have migrated up to 100 miles away from where they were released. Scientists are now concerned that species that have gotten used to the tamarisk trees may have trouble adjusting when the trees are gone. One example of this is the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, which prefers nesting in tamarisk trees even when there are other native trees available.
Iggy Arbuckle has tried a similar trick to eliminate invasive species in the Kookamunga! Watch the video on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic
The common wasp is an invasive species in New Zealand. These wasps compete for food with an ant species called Prolasius advenus, which is a native species. Scientists performing an experiment with the insects noticed the wasps doing something unique: picking up ants crawling on food, flying a short distance away, and then dropping the ants. The scientists noticed that while the two species competed for a food source, the ants could be aggressive towards the much larger wasps, trying to bite them or spraying them with formic acid. The researchers think that the wasps might drop the ants, rather than killing them, to touch as little of the formic acid as possible.
Photograph by Julien Grangier, Victoria University of Wellington
Four common species of bumblebees have been disappearing over the past 20 years. A new study estimates that these populations have declined as much as 96%. The disappearance of the bees is still a mystery, but some scientists think that the bees may have been infected by a fungus called Nosema bombi, which is an invasive fungus from Europe.
Bumblebees pollinate important crops, such as blueberries and tomatoes. They are more efficient pollinators than honeybees.
Read more about this study on National Geographic News.
Read about the honeybee mystery on National Geographic Kids.
Get the facts on honeybees in the Creature Feature.
Photograph by Bill Beatty, Visuals Unlimited
Have you seen ladybugs near where you live? Did you know that the ladybugs you see may not be from a native ladybug species? Over the years, native ladybugs have become rare, while species of ladybugs that come from other places have become more common. The Lost Ladybug Project is looking for native ladybugs (and counting invasive ladybugs, too) to find out why the native species are becoming so rare.
You can help by finding and photographing ladybugs! Visit the Lost Ladybug Project website with your parents to learn how to find ladybugs and send in your pictures.
Get the facts on ladybugs in the Creature Feature.
Photograph by Paul Garcia, My Shot
What appears to be a flower bud is actually a bee nest. One species of bee called, Osmia tergestensis, made it by “gluing” flower petals together with mud. Once the container is complete, the bee fills it with nectar and pollen and lays a single egg inside.
After finishing the egg chamber, the bee buries it. As the chamber dries, it becomes very hard, which protects the egg inside. The baby bee hatches after spending ten months in the flowery egg chamber.
See more pictures and learn more about the bees on National Geographic News.
Why are honey bees disappearing? Investigate the honey bee mystery on National Geographic Kids
Photographs courtesy J.G. Rozen, AMNH
Scientists are concerned that fireflies may be disappearing. With the help of volunteers around the country, they hope to collect information about where and when fireflies are appearing this year. Ask your parents if you can help count fireflies. Visit Ready, Set, Glow! to learn how to observe fireflies in your backyard. You can also learn some firefly jokes and do some activities.
Check out bug photos on National Geographic Kids.
To celebrate the launch of the National Children’s Museum’s Ready, Set, Glow! project, families join Museum of Science Boston educator Don Salvatore, holding a firefly fishing pole, for a firefly night walk.
Photograph courtesy the National Children’s Museum
While we were at the Posada Amazonas lodge in the Amazon, we saw many cool creatures, from monkeys to birds to capybaras. My favorite animals to see (although it was pretty hard to choose a favorite) were the many species of insects and arachnids found on every tree, always amazing. I saw a scorpion (thank you for pointing that one out, Elliot), many spiders, some moth larvae, some centipedes, and many, many snails. Snails were in trees, on leaves, on flowers, everywhere! The mosquitoes, on the other hand, were, should I say, annoying, but because of the rain, we didn’t see too many for a few days. Speaking of creepy-crawlies, we were offered to try termites, a food source for those who have run out of supplies. I…tried some. It tasted a little weird, but if you didn’t think about it, you could eat them without difficulty.
Don’t get me wrong, the birds and mammals were spectacular as well! We saw some grey titi monkeys and we saw and HEARD some howler monkeys. The titi monkeys were adorable; I wanted to hold one! We also saw some gorgeous scarlet macaws. They were like the birds you see in movies, only better! We saw them fly by; flashes of yellow, blue, and red darted across the sky as we took the boat back to dry land. They were flying to the clay licks, where they eat the red-brown earth to help with digestion. I don’t know how that helps, but I’ll do my best to find out. The guides were amazing! They could just say, without another thought, “That’s definitely a green violetear, a type of hummingbird.” Just like that! Wow! The insects were still one of the chart toppers.
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Photograph by Polka Dot Images via Photolibrary
Gross but true: Maggots help wounds to heal faster. Some hospitals use maggots to help difficult wounds like ulcers and burns to heal. The maggots eat dead tissue around the wound that can prevent healing and cause infection. Doctors know it works, but how? A new study suggests that maggots secrete a special fluid that helps them to eat the dead tissue.
What does this mean? In the future, doctors may be able to harness the bacteria-busting power of maggots without having to put the creepy-crawlies on people. David Pritchard, a researcher working on the project at the University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy in the U.K., says that putting the liquid in a gel or ointment is the most likely way the liquid will be used. Such a treatment would probably be just as effective as using the maggots.
Read more about the study on National Geographic News.
Read about plants that eat flies on National Geographic Kids.
Hi everybody, this is Rachel! Today was our first full day in the Amazon rain forest. Our group was split up into 6 different groups to do different activities at different times. Our morning team activity was to go to Oxbow Lake to search for giant river otters, which can be 2-3 meters (6-9 feet) long. To get to the lake, we went by boat ride on the river and then hiked on a very muddy trail for about 20 minutes. We never saw any otters but we saw bats clinging to the side of a tree, several birds, and we fished for piranhas! Grace K. and Dewey both caught piranhas. It was very cool. We did put them back in the lake after we looked at them.
Photograph by Rebecca Joye
Several native ladybug species are disappearing and being replaced by ladybugs from other places. The nine-spotted ladybug and other species have become so rare that scientists are hoping kids can find some in their neighborhoods. Cornell University wants kids go out and search for ladybugs and send in pictures to include in their database. To find out how you can help, visit http://lostladybug.org.
BOOK NAME: Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Creepy-Crawlies
AUTHOR: Claire Llewellyn
Creepy-Crawlies is an interesting book about how a bird named Dr. K. Fisher fixes the problems of other creatures. Some pages of the book are written as letters to Dr. Fisher and the opposite pages are the bird’s letters back.
One of the letters is from a hover fly who says he gets pollen all over him when he drinks nectar from flowers. Dr. Fisher tells him that it’s good for him to pick up pollen and to spread it from flower to flower because it helps the flowers make seeds. Other letters are from a scorpion, glowworm, stick bug, earthworm, millipede and caterpillar.
Other pages of the book are guides to different facts about insects, like their many disguises and wings.
What is really cool is about the book is that on the very first page there’s a real envelope that you can open with a real letter inside from Dr. K. Fisher to you.
I’ve never read a book like this. I like it a lot. What I really like about it is how the bird sends notes back to different bugs to help them out and she writes about bug facts that are really, really cool.