Weaver Ant

Weaver ants boast a skill that no one could ever teach.

  • Weaver ants are an ant species native to the tropical habitats of Australia, southeast Asia and India, and they are also known as ‘orange gasters’, ‘red ants’, ‘green tree ants’, ‘kerengga’, and ‘green ants’.
  • The scientific name of a weaver ant is Oecophylla smaragdina and it is from the family Formicidae, the family of ants.
  • Weaver ants are notable for constructing nests using a number of leaves, which are held together with silk, that they carefully squeeze out of their larvae.
  • Weaver ants are typically an orange or red colour, though sometimes they will have green abdomens, while the queen is often a combination of brown and green.
  • Weaver ants span gaps and bend leaves into usable positions by grabbing onto leaves with their legs and mandibles, and linking with one another in chains.

Weaver Ant, Trivia, Insect, Animal, Ten Random Facts, Leaves, Nest, White, Brown, Branches,

  • The diet of weaver ants consists primarily of insects and honeydew collected from scale bugs, and the ants live in trees.
  • Worker weaver ants range from 5 to 10 millimetres (0.2 to 0.4 of an inch) in length, and their size is relative to their role in the colony, while the queen ant reaches up to 25 millimetres (1 inch) in length.
  • Weaver ants have a natural territorial attitude towards other creatures, so farmers have used them to reduce pest numbers among crops.
  • A bite of a weaver ant is generally quite painful, as the ant commonly injects the bite with formic acid that it produces.
  • Communities in parts of southeast Asia collect the pupae and larvae of weaver ants for a variety of purposes, including food, traditional medicine ingredients, or as bait for fishing.
Bibliography:
Oecophylla smaragdina, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oecophylla_smaragdina
Tan R, Weaver Ants, 2001, Mangrove and wetland wildlife at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/inverts/weaver_ants.htm
Weaver Ant, 2015, AntARK, http://antark.net/ant-species/weaver-ant-oecophylla-smaragdina/

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Monarch Butterfly

Be warned when the monarch butterfly displays its bright wings.

  • A monarch butterfly is a species of common and easily recognisable butterfly, native to North America, though they are now found in a number of countries around the world.
  • ‘Monarch butterflies’ are also known as ‘milkweeds’, ‘common tigers’, ‘monarchs’, ‘black veined browns’, ‘King Billies’ and ‘wanderers’.
  • The scientific name of the monarch butterfly is Danaus plexippus and it is from the family Nymphalidae, the family of brush-footed butterflies.
  • The wingspan of monarch butterflies typically extends a distance of 8.6 to 12.4 centimetres (3.4 to 4.9 inches), and they generally travel thousands of kilometres each year, when they migrate to warmer areas in autumn where they overwinter.
  • Monarch butterflies are a distinctive orange and black colour, and sometimes white and black, though this is rare, with white spots decorating the wing borders; a pattern similar to that of the viceroy butterfly.
Monarch Butterfly, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Orange, Insect, Animal, Resting, Flower
Monarch Butterfly
Image courtesy of William Warby/Flickr
  • The diet of the monarch butterfly caterpillar consists of mainly milkweed leaves, from various species in the Asclepias genus, while the butterfly will feed on nectar from various flowers including milkweed.
  • After hatching from an egg, it takes roughly 9 to 14 days for a monarch butterfly caterpillar to moult and form into a chrysalis, while it takes 9 to 15 days for the butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis.
  • Monarch butterfly larvae or caterpillars are generally patterned with yellow, white and black stripes, while the chrysalis is mostly green with the odd yellow speck.
  • The taste of monarch butterfly is particularly putrid and potentially poisonous towards many possible predators as a result of the insect’s milkweed diet.
  • Monarch butterfly caterpillars were taken to the International Space Station in 2009, where the specimens both lived and emerged from their chrysalis under the watchful eye of scientists.
Bibliography:
Danaus plexippus, 1999, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Danaus_plexippus/
Monarch Butterfly, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus Plexippus), n.d., Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/monarch-butterfly/danaus-plexippus/

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Biting Midges

Biting midges are awful irritators – or amazing, depending on the way you look at it.

  • Biting midges are flying insects that are considered pests due to their habit of consuming human blood, and they are also known as ‘no-see-ums’, ‘midgies’, ‘midges’, ‘punkies’, and somewhat incorrectly as ‘sandflies’, although they are a technically a fly.
  • Ceratopogonidae, is the family of biting midges, while those in the Culicoides genus number greater than one thousand, and they are generally found in areas near water or in mountainous regions.
  • There are more than 200 biting midges in the Culicoides genus, the most common found in Australia, and they are native to moist, muddy or mass-vegetated habitats often in coastal areas, particularly those in northern Australia (especially the tropics), although other midges in the genus are found around the world.
  •  The size of a biting midge is extremely small, ranging from 1 to 3 millimetres (0.04 to 0.12 inches) in length and the insect consumes nectar from plants as part of its diet.
  • Some biting midges cause significant irritation in humans after biting, which is caused by chemicals in the insect’s saliva, although not all midges are human pests; and it is often thought that their urine is what creates the burning irritation on one’s skin, however this is false.
Biting Midge, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Fly, Insect, Female, Animal, Pest
A Biting Midge
Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr
  • Blood is collected only by female biting midges, to supply adequate nutrients for egg reproduction, and for this reason, males are harmless.
  • The larvae of biting midges moult four times with the final time being the pupa stage, emerging as an adult two to three days later, with the entire process taking 3 to 22 weeks according to species, and it can also be dependent upon the moon and tide cycles.
  • Biting midges are generally most active at dawn and dusk, when the females tend to bite, but they can also be a pest during the night and occasionally in overcast weather, however, they are generally less active when it is windy, and more active around full and new moons.
  • The bites of biting midges are typically itchy and/or painful, and red swelling may be evident and grow to multiple centimetres in diameter, depending on one’s immunity, which can build over time, and unlike mosquitoes, midges in Australia are not known to spread disease among humans, though disease spread among animals and humans in other countries is evident.
  • Biting midges tend to stay low to the ground, so they are not typically a pest in high-set buildings, and humans are best protected from their bites by being fully covered by clothing, with the addition of chemical insect repellents on uncovered areas, while the consumption of vitamin B1 (as suggested by some) is ineffective.
Bibliography:
Biting Midges, 2015, Merck Manuals, http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/integumentary_system/flies/biting_midges.html
Biting Midges or “Sandflies” in the NT, 2003, Northern Territory Government, http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/3713/BitingMidge.pdf
Biting Midges or Sandflies, 2009, Government of Western Australia, http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/cproot/2658/2/biting%20midges%20or%20sandflies.pdf
Culicoides spp., 2013, University of Florida, http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/aquatic/biting_midges.htm

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Puss Moth

Puss moths are an example of grey-scale beauty.

  • Puss moths are a species of moth of a medium size, native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia.
  • The scientific name of a puss moth is Cerura vinula and it is from the family Notodontidae, a family of moths known as ‘prominents’.
  • Puss moths have wings that are predominantly a white, grey or cream colour, that are patterned with black coloured marble styled markings, and the body is similar in colouring.
  • The wingspan of a puss moth is roughly 5 to 8 centimetres (2 to 3 inches) in length, though they may be larger, while the length of the caterpillar is approximately 8 centimetres (3 inches).
  • Puss moth caterpillars are primarily green in colour when mature (black when juvenile) and have small white spots, and their head is surrounded by a red coloured ring that is decorated with two black spots so that it appears to be a face.
Puss Moth, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Animal, Trivia, White, Rest
Puss Moth
Image courtesy of Ben Sale/Flickr
  • Puss moth caterpillars strike a defence pose when feeling threatened, which involves intimidation with its pretend ‘face’ and the two red tipped projections on its rear.
  • As a method of protection, puss moth caterpillars may excrete formic acid which is sprayed out when they are further threatened, a feature that makes it one of the more dangerous caterpillars in the United Kingdom.
  • The diet of puss moth caterpillars mainly consists of vegetation from poplars and willow trees, and once hatched, they have an average lifespan of three to five months.
  • Puss moths have a soft furry texture that is comparable to the fur of a cat, which is the reason for the moth’s common name, and they are said to be threatened in some areas due to continuous woodland destruction and pollution.
  • Puss moth caterpillars construct hard waterproof cocoons that are considered one the strongest among moth species, and once the metamorphosis process has concluded, the moth releases a liquid to soften the cocoon so that it can be liberated.
Bibliography:
Cerura Vinula, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerura_vinula
Puss Moth, 2013, Buglife, https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/puss-moth
Puss Moth, 2015, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/puss-moth/

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Hercules Beetle

Hercules beetles have undeniable strength.

  • Hercules beetles are rainforest and jungle insects that are found in South and Central America.
  • The scientific name of a Hercules beetle is Dynastes hercules, and it is from the family Scarabaeidae, the family of scarabs.
  • Hercules beetles can grow to be 4 to 18 centimetres (1.6 to 7 inches) in length, placing them among the top three largest beetles.
  • Male Hercules beetles always have horns, or large pincers, which females lack, although the latter generally have a larger body.
  • The outer shell of a Hercules beetle is generally a combination of brown or black, and yellow or green, and it can change colour, depending on the humidity.
Hercules Beetle, Animals, Insect, Beetle, Large, Ten Random Facts, Side, BlackHercules Beetle
Image courtesy of Mr Bluff/Flickr
  • The diet of a Hercules beetle typically consists of decomposing fruit, wood, leaves or other vegetation, and sometimes little insects.
  • Hercules beetles are among the strongest animals in relation to body weight, with the ability to carry their own weight multiplied by 80.
  • Hercules beetles hatch from eggs laid by the females, and the larvae spend a year or two burrowing through wood, which they eat, until the young become adults through a pupa, then moulting stage.
  • Male Hercules beetles sometimes battle each other with their pincers, and the pincers can be longer than the main part of their body.
  • Hercules beetles can live up to twelve months as an adult, making a total lifespan of close to three years.
Bibliography:
Hercules Beetle, 2008, University of Kentucky Etymology, http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/insects/beetles/hercules/hercules.htm
Hercules Beetle, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/hercules-beetle/
Hercules Beetle, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercules_beetle

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Children’s Stick Insect

Children’s Stick Insects are masters of camouflage.

  • A Children’s Stick Insect is a winged insect native to eastern parts of Australia, that are medium in size, compared to other stick insects.
  • Children’s Stick Insects have the scientific name Tropidoderus childrenii and are from the family Phasmatidae, a family of stick insects that can regrow their own limbs.
  • ‘Children’s Stick Insects’ are also known as ‘yellow-winged spectres’ and they have the ability to fly, although females are less likely to do so.
  • Children’s Stick Insects range from 11 to 14 centimetres (4.3 to 5.5 inches) in length, and they have long legs.
  • The diet of a Children’s Stick Insect consists solely of Australian native eucalyptus leaves, and they spend most of their time in trees.

Children's Stick Insect, Green, Camp, Back, Animal, Insect, Ten Random Facts, Australia

  • A Children’s Stick Insect has the ability to release its limbs, allowing it to escape from predators when caught.
  • Children’s Stick Insects range from green, red, brown, cream, pink and purple in colour, depending on the gender and the age of the insect, and wings are typically a faint yellow to green.
  • Camouflage is one of the primary protection techniques used by Children’s Stick Insects, as they often have the appearance of leaves.
  • Children’s Stick Insects lay small ovoid eggs in the trees, that drop down to the ground and are typically grey in colour, and they take approximately four months to hatch.
  • Fellow stick insects occasionally mistake Children’s Stick Insects’ wings for leaves, and as a result eat them, but they are generally not bothered by it, as the wings are insensitive.

 

Bibliography:
Chapman A, Children’s Stick Insect (Tropidoderus childrenii), n.d, OzAnimals.com, http://www.ozanimals.com/Insect/Children’s-Stick-Insect/Tropidoderus/childrenii.html
Children’s Stick Insect – Tropidoderus childrenii, n.d, Bugs Ed, http://www.bugsed.com/fact_sheets/childrens_stick_insect.html
Tropidoderus childrenii, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropidoderus_childrenii

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