Monday, September 6, 2010


I love nature of any kind and I'm always aware of natures wonderful and beautiful creatures that we share the world with.  Here are a few friends in the insect world that I am fortune enough to having living in my area.

The Tarantula Hawk is a species of spider wasp which hunts tarantulas as food for its larvae.

Up to two inches (50 mm) long with a blue-black body and bright rust-colored wings, tarantula hawks are among the largest of wasps. The coloring on their wings warns potential predators that they are
dangerous (Aposematism). Their long legs have hooked claws for grappling with their victims. The stinger of a female tarantula hawk can be up to 1/3 inch (7 mm) long, and delivers a sting which is rated among the most painful in the insect world.  (They rarely string humans.)

The "Bumble Bee" is a big, hairy, black or black and yellow bee whose size can range from 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch.

There are over 200 types of Bumble bees in the world. Fifty different types can be found in North America. Each different species will have its own preference to types of nectar and prefers different flowers.

The bumble bee is an important, beneficial insect. They pollinate plants and flowers as they forage for food. To gardeners, it is a welcome sight to see these large, flying insects carrying large loads of pollen, flying into and around their flower beds and gardens. While busy searching for food (and at the same time, pollinating plants) bumble bees are rarely a problem when in close proximity to humans. They will actually (in most cases) go out of their way to avoid human contact. Bumble bees will, however, defend themselves if they sense that they are cornered and cannot escape. Most of the time they will fly away from danger but will sting if they are under duress.

The Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a North and South American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae (the brush-foots) with a wingspan of 2.75–3.25" (70–88mm)..

It is orange or brown with black wing borders and small white forewing spots on its dorsal wing surface, and reddish ventral wing surface fairly similar to the dorsal surface. The ventral hindwings have black veand small white spots in a black border. The male has a black androconial scent patch on its dorsal hindwings. Their flight is slow and they are reasonably easy to approach, but will fly for some distance if approached too closely.

Red Velvet Ants – actually wasps – get their name from the hairs that cover their body and because they resemble ants. The flightless females, which are often encountered while wandering on the ground, especially resemble ants. Two common varieties include thistledown (Dasymutilla gloriosa) and red (Dasymutilla magnifica).  They are all in the family Mutillidae. 

Velvet Ants range in size from 1/8 inch to one inch, with great variation within species. Size appears to depend upon size of host used during development. Velvet ants look like miniature walking cotton balls.  Red, orange, yellow, black or white bristle-like hairs, known as setae, cover the entire body. Biologists call this type of coloration "aposematic," and they used the term to refer to conspicuous warning colors of animals that predators should avoid.

Males have wings but no stingers, while females have stingers but lack wings.

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