Most of Ohio’s butterflies go through the winter in the egg or pupa stage of their life cycle. But a handful of butterflies – the mourning cloak and the eastern coma being two common examples – spend the winter hibernating as adults. They are sometimes take flight on mild days in December and January and are always the first butterflies to be seen in the early spring.
Earwigs are one of the few non-social insects to show maternal care to their eggs. They pay attention to the warmth and protection of the eggs. They also clean the eggs to prevent fungus from growing on them. Many insects over winter in a dormant state called quiescence, when it warms enough to support their physiological processes, they become active. Think of that “drunk” fly buzzing around on a warm January day! The insects become dormant again as soon as the temperature cools.
Animals like cockroaches are really important in a habitat because they eat the dead plants and recycle the nutrients back into the soil, which helps the plants to grow.
Not all animals have “ears” on their heads. Some moths have the equivalent of the eardrum mounted in the middle of their thorax, while spiders and crickets have them on their legs.
Have you ever gotten into stinging nettles, which is also called “itch weed”? Nettles are an important food for several species of butterfly caterpillars.
The Monarch Butterfly migrates up from Mexico in the spring and lays eggs on the undersides of Milkweed plants, which are the only food source for the hatched caterpillars.
The eardrums of a katydid are located on its front legs. They just have to move their front legs to hear in any direction.
The Monarch butterflies are arriving in their over wintering areas in the mountains of central Mexico this week. A Monarch tagged in Crawford County last summer migrated over 1700 miles and was recovered in Mexico in March of 2008.
Wooly bear caterpillars are the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth. They're a couple inches long, black on each end with a brown band around the middle. Folklore says that if the brown band is wide, then the winter will be mild and if the brown band is narrow, then get ready for deep snow and cold well into April. It's a quick way to forecast the weather but it is just folklore!
The organ-pipe mud dauber (Trypoxylon politum) builds a nest in the shape of a cylindrical tube. Its eggs are laid individually in cells and provisioned with spiders as a food source for when they hatch.
The common name of the praying mantis comes from the Greek word “mantis” which means prophet. When in the striking position their arms appear to be folded in prayer.
The three common species of praying mantis in this area are the introduced Chinese (Tenodera aridifolia) and European (Mantis religiosa) mantis and the native Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina). One way of identifying these species is by observing the differences in their egg cases.
Earthworms have both male and female reproductive organs, five hearts and some have the ability to regenerate lost segments.
The largest blossom in the world belongs to the parasitic plant _Rafflesia_ _arnoldii_ or the “stinking corpse lily.” Found only in the rainforest of Sumatra and Borneo, the flower can measure 3 feet in diameter and weigh 11 kilograms. Its horrible smell attracts flies and beetles which pollinate it.
Violets recruit the help of ants when it comes to seed dispersal. The flower produces an elaiosome which is attached to the seed. When the ants, being attracted to the elaiosome for its nutrient value, carry it back to the nest the seed is carried along. The colony eats the elaiosome and discards the seed unharmed.
About 136 species of butterflies have been documented in Ohio but that number pales to the number of moth species we have….2,500!
Ants are champion earthmovers--they move more earth than any other organism including earthworms!
Yellow jacket is the common name for predatory wasps of the genera Vespula and Dlichovespula. Most of these wasps are black and yellow. Many people of Crawford County mistakenly call the yellow jacket a bee. The pesky yellow jacket can be found at your picnic and is not choosy about food. Many people have been stung when taking a drink of soda without realizing a yellow jacket has entered the pop can.