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'" CARD 31


"'" GROUP 5: INSECTS &: SPIDERS \ . . . ~ \
Insecta Lepidoptera Nympha/idae Vanessa atalanta
The red admiral butterfly belongs to the vanessid group of
butterflies. They are among the largest and most colorful butterflies
that inhabit the northern temperate regions of the world.
Wingspan: 2-3 in.
Coloration: Red, black, and white.
Legs: Front legs, stumps covered
in brushes. Only uses rear two pairs
of legs for walking.
Breeding season: Spring.
Eggs: 1-100 per day.
Egg to chrysalis: 4-7 days.
Chrysalis to pupation: 2-3 weeks.
Diet: Mainly nectar of plants such
as nettle, wild daisy, and clover.
Also feeds on rotting fruit.
lifespan: About 10 months.
Vast number of different vanessid
(genus Vanessa) species including
painted ladies, peacock butterfly,
commodore butterfly, tortoiseshell
butterfly, and pansy butterfly.
Range of the red admiral butterfly.
Found throughout North America, Europe, North Africa, and
parts of Central America and the Middle East.
The vanessids (genus Vanessa) are among the least endan-
gered of butterflies, especially because they feed on plants
that man encourages to grow.
1. The red admiral butterfly is easily
recognized by its distinctive markings. It
lays its eggs, one at a time, on leaves.
2. Each caterpillar
pulls its leaf
around itself to
form a protective
enclosure. The leaf
is held closed by
silken threads.
3. During the late
summer and early
fall, the chrysalis
hangs from the
stem of its food
plant. When the butterfly finally
emerges, winter is approaching.
Some species can survive the cold
in hibernation, but the red admiral
butterfly cannot.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200151 PACKET 15
Vanessa butterflies are found
The female red admiral but-
terfly lays her eggs on a wide
range of food plants. She
generally chooses the leaves
of the nettle, or occasionally
those of the hop plant, on
which to lay her eggs. Each
egg is laid singly and placed
on the top surface of the leaf.
When the eggs hatch, the
caterpillars pull the leaves
around them to form a pro-
tective enclosure. They then
spin silken threads around
themselves to serve as protec-
tion from predators as they
Once they are fully grown,
the caterpillars move to a
hidden spot on the plant,
usually near the base of a leaf
I f\:"]
_____ th_ro_u_g_h_o_u_t _m_u_ch_of_t_h_e_w_o_r_ld_. ____ NATUREWATCH
Besides the red admiral butterfly, this group Red admiral butterflies are a
common sight in yards and
includes the tortoiseshell, painted lady, vacant lots. Planting late-
peacock, Camberwell beauty, blooming, nectar-rich flowers
is a sure way of attracting the
and comma butterflies. butterflies to your yard, as
by its stem, where they shed
their skins and pupate (go
through a non-feeding stage
of development). The cocoon
they spin (chrysalis) has gold-
natural supplies of food are
scarce at that t ime. They are
also attracted to nettles.
Inspect leaves of favorite
plants from May onward for
colored markings.
The chrysalises of other
vanessid butterflies often
resemble the surfaces on
which they rest.
Left: An egg
about to
hatch. The
female lays up
to 100 eggs
per day.
When red admiral butter-
flies migrate, they fly at five
to nine miles per hour.
The red admiral butterfly's
name comes from the word
admirable-it was admired
for its bright coloration.
Five of the most common
vanessids depend on the
nettle plant as their primary
source of food.
The painted lady, Cynthia
cardui, is the world's most
common butterfly and one of
the most widely distributed
insects on earth.
Tortoiseshell and peacock
caterpillars rise up and face
their predators to intimidate
The red admiral caterpillar a strong flyer and only the
has spiky extensions on its most agile birds can catch it
body that deter most birds, in flight. When it is resting,
I except the cuckoo, from the butterfly conceals itself
attacking them. Still, they from view by closing its
are very vulnerable to attack colorful wings. Still, the
J by parasitic wasps and flies. markings on its upper wings
The red admiral
The red admiral butterfly feeds
mainly on flower nectar. It also
feeds on nettles and clover in
the spring and summer, as
well as on common flowers
such as buddleia, Michaelmas
daisy, and ice plant.
It particularly likes daisies of
the family Asteraceae because
each flower contains a high
concentration of nectar.
The red admiral butterfly
also feeds on ivy flowers and
the juice of rotting fruit such
as apples, which it shares with
wasps and other vanessids
(genus Vanessa).
All vanessid butterflies have
special taste organs located in
their feet, but those of the red
admiral butterfly are espe-
cially sensitive. The organs
can distinguish between
water and a sugar solution
that is so weak that a person
cannot tell the difference.
Top: A red admiral butterfly rests
on a leaf.
Right: Painted lady butterfly.
Although the red admiral
butterfly is commonly seen
in temperate areas, it is actu-
ally a migrant from the Medi-
terranean regions of Europe
and from Guatemala and the
Antilles in the western hemi-
sphere. It flies north each
spring and lays its eggs when
it arrives at its breeding
grounds. The offspring re-
main at the breeding grounds
through summer and into the
cold winter.
Like the painted lady, which
also migrates, the red admiral
butterfly seems to lack the
instinct to return south as
cold weather approaches. In
the winter it attempts to
hibernate in tree hollows,
rocky crevices, or among
plant debris, but the cold
weather soon kills it.
Some vanessids are heartier
than the red admiral butter-
fly. The peacock, small
tortoiseshell, and comma
butterflies, for example, all
survive the winter.

________ ________
Hymenoptera Formicidae fciton
The lives of army ants differ from those of most other ants. These
nomadic hunters roam from one temporary nest to another and
devour any small creature in their path.
Length: Up to 1 in.
Coloration: Dark brown to black.
Mouthparts: Large, powerful,
pincerlike jaws.
Wings: Only on male.
Eggs: Up to 120,000 laid during
each stationary phase.
Larval development: 23-33 days.
Pupation: 10-15 days.
Habit: Lives in colonies; nomadic.
Diet: Small animals that colony
subdues, such as insects, baby
birds, and snakes.
There are about a dozen species
within the genus fciton. Together
with African driver ants and
several other genera, they make
up the subfamily Dorylinae.
Range of army ants.
Found from southern Mexico to tropical South America and
as far north as the Mississippi valley. Related species occur in
India and Malaysia.
Army ants are abundant and widespread in many parts of
their range. They are considered a nuisance when their
colonies meet human settlements.
Guard duty: As a
colony moves
through the
forest during its
migratory phase,
soldier ants
guard the sides
of the column.
Soldier ants: The size and appearance of each ant
depends on the role it plays in the colony. A soldier
ant is twice the size of a worker or winged male. It
also has a paler head and larger jaws.
than soldiers, work-
ers make up the bulk
of the colony. They
pass food down the
column, construct
temporary nests, and
attend to the needs
of the queen.
Jaws: A soldier
ant is armed
with large,
jaws. Its deadly
sting is used to
overpower prey
and predators.
0160200371 PACKET 37
A colony of army ants on the march
is an awe-inspiring sight. Hundreds of thousands
of individual ants form a highly organized procession.
Though sometimes feared, these ants
are of little danger to humans-
as long as people step aside and let them pass.
Army ants live in the lowland
forests of Central and South
America. They are unusual
among social insects in that
they lead nomadic lives. Each
colony contains hundreds of
thousands of ants. Most are
workers, and there are also
soldier ants. The central figure
in the colony is the queen,
who lays all the eggs.
The colony's activities are
based on a 30- to 40-day cycle
that is divided into a migratory
and a stationary phase. During
a migratory phase the colony
marches daily and rests at
night, sometimes in nests
formed by the workers' bodies.
The ants grip each other with
their legs and jaws to form
long chains. These chains in-
terweave into a net that sur-
rounds and protects the queen
and the young.
During the stationary phase
the colony builds a nest in a
sheltered spot on the forest
floor and the queen lays up to
120,000 eggs. The eggs soon
hatch into larvae and parties of
workers forage in the area to
bring them food. As the num-
ber of larvae increases, more
and more food is needed to
sustain the colony. Soon the
colony must migrate again in
search of food.
The migratory phase con-
tinues until the new larvae start
to pupate (develop). Pupating
larvae do not feed, so the
demand for food drops again,
and the cycle begins anew.
Army ants are carnivores, or
meat eaters. While marching,
they attack any animal within
reach, and they work togeth-
er to overcome prey much
larger than themselves. Slow-
moving insect larvae, mol-
lusks, and worms are their
easiest prey, but army ants
Left: Soldier ants have powerful
jaws that they use against
potential predators.
Columns of army ants can
march 65 feet in an hour.
The related African driver
ants have large, biting
jaws that can tear morsels
of flesh from animals.
also attack beetles, grasshop-
pers, spiders, and scorpions.
They can kill snakes, lizards,
and small mammals by mass
stinging and suffocation.
During the migratory pe-
riod, daily marches start at
dawn. Special scout workers
test various routes and then
form an advance front.
The scouts leave behind a
strong scent to guide their
followers. The remaining ants
march in a dense column,
carrying the queen and the
larvae. Food seized at the
front is passed back down
the column to feed the
young. Soldier ants at the
sides protect the marchers.
Right: Hundreds of worker ants
unite to overcome and dismember
a grasshopper.
Left: Instead of
going around
an obstacle,
an advancing
column of ants
forms a bridge
to cross a gap
on the forest
Below: A
worker tends a
queen ant that
is bloated with
The queen produces sterile
females for most of the year.
But once a year she produces a
special generation of fertile fe-
males and winged males. About
six young queens develop first.
A group of workers help the
first out of her cocoon, sur-
round her, and move her a
short distance from the main
colony. When a second queen
emerges, another section of
workers switches allegiance
from the main queen to her.
Queens that hatch later re-
ceive less attention.
A batch of up to 3,000
winged males then emerges
from the main nest. This
event splits the colony in two.
The main queen goes in one
direction and the eldest of
the young queens in another,
both surrounded by workers.
The younger queens usually
follow the latter, but they
rarely survive to establish
their own colonies.
The winged males wait until
evening and then mate with
the young queens. A queen
mates only once and stores
sperm in her body to produce
eggs for the rest of her life.
'" CARD 33
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Forficulidae Forficula auricularia
The common earwig can be identified easily by its pointed tail
pincers. It looks fierce, but it is a harmless creature, and
tales that it pierces eardrums are untrue.
Length: Up to ~ in.
Mouthparts: Simple biting jaws.
Wings: Forewings modified into
tough wing cases for large, very
thin, semicircular hind wings.
Breeding season: Early spring.
No. of eggs: 20-50.
Hatching time: 3-4 weeks.
Habit: Active at night; generally
Diet: Plant and animal remains
and live fruit and flowers.
Lifespan: 18 months or more.
There are 1,200 known species of
earwig. Common species include
the lesser earwig, Labia minor, and
the large earwig, Labidura riparia,
which may grow to 1 inch long.
Range of the earwig family.
The common earwig and related species are found world-
wide, except in the polar regions.
Earwigs are very adaptable and in no danger of becoming
extinct. But the world's largest earwig, Labidura herculiana
from Saint Helena, may be extinct because of loss of habitat.
Male: Identified by its thin, curved pin-
cers, which are used to hold the female
steady during courtship dances.
Female: Has straighter, stout pincers.
Wing cases:
Tough and
casings for the
wings, which
are folded
Wings: Most of the time the wings
are carefully folded and concealed
beneath the outer wing cases. In
some species a pair of hind wings
fits beneath the forewings.
Female can store the male's sperm
for up to one month inside her body.
Pincers (cerci):
Used for captur-
ing prey such as
small flies and
Antennae: Long
and mobile.
Used to grope
for traces of food.
0160200451 PACKET 45
The common earwig is unusual because
it cares for its young even before they hatch,
tending the eggs and licking them clean. Later,
it feeds its young and even accompanies them
on their first foraging expeditions. Such parental
attention is very rare in the insect world.

With flattened body and short
legs, the common earwig is
ideally shaped for lurking in
crevices. It wedges itself into
tight corners and squeezes its
body against the walls. It lies
dormant all day and creeps
out at night to feed, using its
antennae to grope for food.
If the previous night's food
source has been exhausted,
the common earwig may fly off
in search of food. Its wings are
concealed under a pair of very
short wing cases. Each wing is
quite large but extremely thin,
so it can be folded up under
its wing case like a parachute.
The earwig must carefully ma-
nipulate its tail pincers to un-
fold the wings, which may be
why it does not fly very much.

Earwigs pair and mate in late
summer or fall, before the
female finds a refuge for the
winter. Often the pair spends
the winter together, along
with other earwigs.
In early spring the female
lays 20 to 50 creamy-white
oval eggs in a crevice. She
guards the eggs, turning and
licking them to keep them free
of mold spores and bacteria
that could destroy them. The
eggs hatch after three or four
Left: Earwigs benefit gardens by
destroying aphids.
The earwig's wings are
folded into 40 layers to fit
under the wing cases.
Some tropical earwigs live
as parasites on rats and bats.
They infest the fur like lice or
feast on the debris found in
bat roosts.
weeks. A young earwig does
not undergo a larval stage. It
is much paler than an adult
and has no wings.
The mother earwig feeds
and protects the young for
about 10 days, until they shed
their skins. This is the first of
four or five instars (growth
stages). At the second instar
the young venture outside the
nest and begin to forage for
themselves. But a family group
frequently stays together until
the young are fully grown in
late summer.
Left: A newly
hatched earwig
is known as a
Right: A female
earwig tends
her eggs.
The name earwig origi-
nates from the belief that
earwigs crawl into people's
ears and bite holes in their
eardrums. It is possible the
insect might regard an ear as
a cozy crevice, but the rest of
the story is unfounded.
The common earwig is pri-
marily a scavenger that feeds
on decaying fruit and carrion
(dead flesh). It uses its biting
mouthparts to eat damaged
fruit, the delicate parts of flow-
ers, and fungi spores. On flow-
er and fruit farms, where food
is abundant, earwigs may mul-
tiply to plague proportions.
The common earwig may
capture insects in its powerful
tail pincers. More often it is on
the defensive. It will arch its
pincers over its back in order
to discourage attackers.
Left: Male and
female earwigs
can be identi-
fied by the
shape of their
cerci (pincers).
On the male
(left) the cerci
are slim and
curved. On the
female (right)
they are short,
thick, and
With their huge, iridescent wings, birdwing butterflies are among
the jewels of the tropical rainforest. They are the biggest
butterflies in the world and are highly prized by collectors.
Wingspan: The largest female
specimens of Ornithoptera
alexandrae measure 11 in.
Weight: Up to X oz.
Wings: Two pairs, with forewings
longer than hind wings.
Mouthparts: Sucking (adult),
chewing (larva).
Eggs: Laid singly on leaves.
Larva to pupa: 4 weeks.
Pupa to adult: 3 weeks.
Habit: Solitary, active by day.
Diet: Adult feeds on nectar from
the flowers of forest trees and
vines. Larva feeds on vine foliage.
The swallowtail and parnassian
butterflies found in North Amer-
ica belong to the same family as
the birdwings.
Range of birdwing butterflies.
Most birdwings are natives of New Gui"nea and the nearby
islands. They are also found from southern India and Ceylon
through Southeast Asia to northern Austral ia.
All birdwing butterflies are threatened by the destruction of
their rainforest habitat. But butterfly farming has helped
prevent the intentional killing of wild specimens.
Male: Often
found on river-
banks, where it
feeds on sodium salt
before mating. It also alights
on rotting fruit and flowers.
Male birdwings are usually more
brightly colored and iridescent
than females. Female: Rarely
seen because it flies at
treetop level above the
forest canopy. Most females
are brown.
Rajah Brooke's birdwing, Trogonoptera brookianus,
shown here, is found in Malaysia. Both male and
female have a wingspan of 5 ~ inches.
Color: Male has dark wings
streaked with amber, gold, or
emerald. These colors are
produced by pigments and by
the refraction of sunlight off
the scales.
0160200431 PACKET 43
Birdwing butterfly specimens can be found in
collections in all parts of the world. Ironically,
this trade may help to preserve living butterflies
and their rainforest habitat in Southeast Asia
and Australia. The local people are being
encouraged to set up butterfly farms instead
of cutting down trees to grow crops.
With wingspans of up to 11
inches, birdwings are the big-
gest, most spectacular butter-
flies in the world. They are
found in the rainforests of
Southeast Asia and Australasia,
where they live in treetops
high above the forest floor.
The name "birdwing" refers
to the shape of the butterfly's
forewings, which are long and
slender compared to the rel-
atively small hind wings. This
gives them a somewhat bird-
like appearance as they slowly
fly between trees.
As with many insects, the
females are larger than the
males, but the males are more
colorful. Their dark, velvety
wings are streaked with irides-
cent amber, gold, or emerald.
The colors are produced partly
by pigments but primarily by
the scattering of light from the
wing scales. The scales are only
loosely attached to the wings,
like tiles on a roof. As the but-
terfly ages, they tend to fall off,
revealing the clear glassy struc-
ture of the wings.
Right: After a butterfly emerges
from the chrysalis, it must wait
for its wings to dry.
Birdwing larvae (caterpillars)
need to eat all day so they can
grow. Their bodies are basical-
ly muscular bags designed to
take in and process as much
food as possible. The larvae
feed mainly on the leaves of
Aristolochia vines, which con-
tain toxic substances. It seems
probable that the birdwing lar-
va absorbs the toxins into its
system, making itself poison-
ous to its enemies.
A birdwing adult needs high-
left: The Cairns birdwing is
found in tropical areas of north-
eastern Australia.
Some birdwings are so big
that collectors used to kill
them with bows and arrows.
If attacked, a larva will
defend itself by exuding a
foul odor from a retractable
organ behind its head.
Butterflies are attracted to
each other by smell rather
energy food as fuel for flying
and mating, and nectar is an
ideal source. Like other but-
terflies, the birdwing obtains
nectar by uncoiling its long
proboscis, or mouthpart, and
inserting it into the center of
a flower. The proboscis is actu-
ally two structures that form
a tube when they are held to-
gether. The butterfly uses the
tube to suck up the nectar-
a process comparable to drink-
ing through a straw.
Right: The birdwing adult feeds
on the nectar it collects from
forest flowers.
than color. When scientists
bred a male butterfly of the
"wrong" color, it did not
bother the female.
After fertilization, the male
plugs the female's genital
tract with a frothy secretion
to prevent other males from
mating with her.
Like all butterflies, birdwings
have a four-stage lifecycle. The
egg h a t ~ h e s into a larva, which
then becomes a chrysalis, or
pupa. The winged adult finally
emerges from the pupa.
The female birdwing lays her
eggs on the upper sides of the
leaves and leaves them to de-
velop unguarded. After they
hatch, the larvae feed vora-
ciously and reach their max-
imum size within a month.
Each larva outgrows its skin
several times as it gets bigger.
Finally it stops feeding and
develops a tough pupal skin.
left: This larva
is fully grown
and ready to
pupate, or turn
into a butterfly.
At this stage it
produces a
silken girdle
around its
"waist" and
attaches itself
to a leaf.
During this chrysalis phase, the
insect is sealed inside a cocoon
and does not eat. The cocoon
is attached to a plant by a pad
of silk at its lower end and a
girdle around its "waist."
Inside the cocoon the body
of the insect is completely re-
built. Most of the larval cells
are broken down, and a few
dormant cells are brought to
life to create the body of the
winged adult. Within three
weeks the process is complete.
The butterfly emerges from
the cocoon, expands its wings,
and flies off to find a mate.
_______ G_R_O_U_P
Musca domestica
The housefly is a pest that spreads dirt and disease wherever it
goes. It is also among the most sophisticated insects, with a
method of flying that has much in common with an airplane.

Mouthparts: Sucking.
Wings: One pair of wings, plus a
pair of halteres, or "balancers."
Breeding season: Varies depend-
ing on climate.
Eggs: Up to 900 per female, laid in
batches of 120-150.
Development time: A minimum
of one week from egg to adult.
Longer in cool conditions.
Habit: Solitary, but known to con-
gregate at feeding sites.
Diet: Any easily digested organic
material. Mainly rotting flesh, fruit,
and excrement.
Common relatives include the
flesh-eating blowflies, dung flies,
and bloodsucking stable flies.
Range of the housefly.
One of the most widespread of all animals, the housefly is
found all over the world except in the polar regions.
The housefly is considered one of the world's worst pests. De-
spite numerous attempts to exterminate it, the housefly re-
mains common, especially in areas with primitive sanitation
and garbage disposal facilities.
1. Eggs: Laid by
the female in
batches of 120
to 150 in decay-
ing material ,
where the larvae
will find food.
The tiny eggs
are about 1/25
inch long.
5. At three days
old the adult fe-
male is ready to
lay eggs.
2. Larvae: Eggs hatch within
8 to 36 hours. Maggots feed
voraciously on surrounding
food supplies.
3. Pupa: The lar-
va pupates 3 to
4 days after
hatching and
forms a hard,
capsule, but its
wings are not
us P 6001 12052 PACKET 52
The housefly flourishes in garbage dumps and sewers
throughout the world. It frequently lays its eggs in
manure, sewage, or rotting food. While other animals
are threatened by the continuing expansion of the
human population, the housefly thrives among
hordes of people, feeding on their waste.
Since it cannot chew or swallow
solid food, the housefly must
suck it up in liquid form. Its
mouthparts are well adapted
for sucking liquids, since they
broaden into a fleshy, absor-
bent "mop."
Many of the housefly's favor-
ite foods are semiliquids such
as excrement, decaying flesh,
and rotting vegetation. In or-
der to sample a solid food, the
fly must first liquify the item by
spreading saliva on it. The sali-
va dissolves the food, and the
fly then sucks up the liquid.
The housefly often regurgi-
tates some of its previous meal
on the food it is eating and
spreads infection in the pro-
cess. The bacteria that cause
dysentery and similar diseases
are carried by the housefly
from the feces of an infected
person to the food of another.
This is one reason why it is im-
portant to improve sanitation
throughout the world.
The lifecycle of the housefly is
divided into four phases. It be-
gins life as an egg and then
hatches into a larva (maggot),
which feeds intensively before
pupating. The pupa is the transi-
tion state between the maggot
and the final breeding stage-
the winged adult.
The female lays batches of
120 to 150 eggs in decaying or-
ganic material such as rotting
meat or manure. These eggs
hatch in as little as eight hours
in warm weather, and they
rarely take longer than three
days. The white maggots that
emerge are legless and carrot-
shaped, with mouths at the
left: The housefly contaminates
food with germs that it picks up
from refuse.
The housefly can quickly be-
come immune to pesticides,
which kill the vulnerable adults,
leaving a few that are resistant
to the chemicals. These sur-
vivors pass on their immunity
to future generations.
One housefly can carry over
narrow ends. Each maggot
gorges itself on the food that
surrounds it and grows rapidly.
Within a few days, the mag-
got is ready to pupate. It com-
pletes its metamorphosis (change)
into an adult housefly inside a
hard, barrel-shaped capsule.
When it is fully developed, the
fly forces the end off the cap-
sule by inflating a balloonlike
sac on its head. The fly hauls it-
self out of the capsule, deflates
t he sac, and flies away to find a
mate. In the tropics, the cycle
may be complete in a week. As
long as the air temperature
stays above 60F, houseflies
breed continuously.
Ri ght: The housefly cleans itself
constantly, but thousands of bac-
teria still cling to its legs.
a million bacteria, anyone of
which may spread disease.
Many houseflies die in win-
ter, but others hibernate in
sheltered places and emerge
to breed in spring. Flies in
warm buildings will breed
throughout the winter.
The housefly has only two real off course. Sensory cells detect
wings. The hind pair are not these vibrations and feed the
true wings-they are modified information to the brain, so
into pinlike structures called the fly can make a correction.
halteres. The halteres act like Thus the halteres work as sta-
pendulums, vibrating in the bilizers, like the gyroscopes in
I same plane even if the f_ly_go_e_s __ an_ ai_rp_l_an_e_au_t_o,_ p_ilo_t_. __ ----'
The housefly feeds on, and
breeds in, the debris produced
by people all over the world.
Like many flies, it is a scaven-
ger and plays an important
role in disposing of waste. But
this valuable service is not
without its price.
To a housefly, everything
organic is potential food. It
makes no distinction between
left: The housefly deposits saliva
on food to break it down into an
edible liquid.
garbage, excrement, and food
for human consumption. The
housefly prefers raw sewage,
which in many parts of the
world is infected with bacteria
that cause gastrointestinal dis-
eases such as dysentery. In
these areas houseflies are ma-
jor carriers of infection because
they transmit bacteria to food.
Contaminated food causes
millions of deaths each year
through dehydration resulting
from diarrhea.
Insecta Lepidoptera Lycaenidae Lycaena phlaeas
The American copper butterfly, with its brightly colored forewings,
is a familiar sight hovering over fields and gardens. But it flies
so swiftly that it is difficult to follow with the eye.
Wingspan: Male, 11.; in. Female
slightly larger.
Coloration: Copper-orange fore-
wing with black spots and border.
Black hind wing with copper-
orange band. Sexes similar.
Larva: Green or green and pink.
Breeding season: From April to
Eggs: About 10, laid singly.
Hatching time: 1 week.
Larval stage: 1 month; 7 months
in those that overwinter as larvae.
Diet: Adult feeds on flower nectar.
Larva eats sorrel and dock plants.
Lifecycle: 2 generations a year.
The American copper is a member
of the family Lycaenidae, which in-
cludes the large copper and the
hairstreaks as well as the blues.
Range of the American copper butterfly.
Found in North America, all of Europe and temperate Asia, and
in western North Africa.
The American copper is abundant and widely distributed. Pop-
ulations drop in damp, cold summers but quickly recover in a
good summer. Dry, hot summer weather can also harm popu-
lations by killing the food plants of the larvae.
Adult: Copper-orange forewings
have dark spots and border. Hind
wings are dark with copper-orange
border, sometimes spotted
blue. Sexes are Similar, but
female is larger.
Pupa (chrysalis): Stays motionless,
anchored to a leaf stem by tail hooks
and a silk thread encircling its middle.
Adult emerges after 3 to 4 weeks.
Eggs: About
10 round white
eggs are laid on
the upper surface
of the leaves of
sorrel and dock
plants. It takes
a week for
the eggs
to hatch.
Larva (caterp'illar): Colored
green or green and pink after the
first molt. Feeds on leaves.
Goes through 4 molts
before becoming
a pupa.
0160200501 PACKET 50
As a member of the family Lycaenidae,
the American copper is related to many bright blue
butterflies, including the spring genre, common blue,
and northern blue. Both male and female share the
same rich, copper-orange coloring. As a result, this
common butterfly is quite easy to identify in gardens
and meadows as it feeds on the nectar of flowers.
~ H A B I T A T
The American copper butterfly
is common in many parts of
North America.
Because the larva has a high-
ly specialized diet, the species
does not travel far and occurs
only in areas containing suitable
food plants. It can be found in
I ~ .
The Ameri can copper is seen
from spring to fall . The female
is slightly larger than the male,
but both sexes have copper-
orange forewings with black
spots and a dark border. The
rear of the dark hind wings has
a copper-orange border.
meadows, pastures, and heath-
land. In fact, the American cop-
per frequents almost any fertile
ground where insecticides are
not in use, including urban gar-
dens. The male has a territory
that he maintains by chasing
away other insects.
Although the American cop-
per butterfly is fairly small and
moves quickly, it is usually easy
to see because it flies close to
the ground and is not shy.
Viewed up close, it is one of
the most beautiful butterflies
in the United States.
Like most butterfly species, the
American copper is unable to
chew. It feeds by sucking up
liquids through its proboscis-
a slender, hollow tube. When
not in use, the proboscis is
coiled under the butterfly's
head. The American copper
feeds mainly on flower nectar.
It especially likes the flowers of
Left: While resting on a leaf, this
American copper stays alert, ready
to chase off intruders.
The depth and color of the
American copper's markings
vary. One variety has blue
spots inside the orange border
on its hind wings.
An arctic subspecies of the
American copper, L. p. polaris,
produces one brood each year.
During an especially mild
buttercups and clover. But if
these are not available, it will
seek nectar from many com-
mon plants.
The larva is not as adaptable
as the adult butterfly. It feeds
only on the leaves of specific
wild plants, including broad-
leaved and curled dock and
common and sheep's sorrel.
Right: The American copper is the
most abundant copper species in
the eastern United States.
year, three generations of
American copper butterflies
may be produced. The fall
brood can overwinter as lar-
vae, remaining at this stage for
up to seven months. Butter-
flies from this brood, born in
the spring, are often smaller
than the others.
The female American copper
usually lays her eggs on the leaf
of a food plant near the leaf
stalk. About a week later, a
larva (caterpillar) eats its way
out of the egg and moves to
the underside of the leaf. Here
it eats out a groove and rests,
well hidden from predators.
The yellow-white larva is cov-
ered with long, white hairs.
The larva feeds on leaves and
soon grows too big for its skin,
which it sheds. Its new coloring
is solid green or striped green
and pink, blending in with the
plant to camouflage the larva.
Left: The lower surfaces of the
American copper's wings lack the
rich orange color.
Left: The green
or green-and-
pink coloring of
the American
copper larva
it on its food
plant. The
plant provides
the larva with
the shelter and
nourishment it
needs in order
to pupate.
It remains this color for anoth-
er three molts. After about a
month, it stops feeding and
begins to change into a pupa.
The pupa is pale brown,
speckled with darker brown
and black. It often attaches
itself to the space between a
dead leaf and the stem of the
food plant. It is held in place
with tail hooks attached to a
pad of silk spun under the leaf.
A length of silk around the
middle of its body acts like a
safety belt, helping to anchor
the larva to the stem.
After three to four weeks,
the adult butterfly emerges
from the pupa, ready to mate
" CARD 37
Water striders are among our most unusual bugs. With their long,
thin legs, they are able to walk on water. They can be found
darting across the still surfaces of ponds and lakes.
Body length: Under 1 in.
Coloration: Dark blue and brown,
usually paler on the underside of
the body.
Mouthparts: Long, daggerlike,
and hollow.
Wings: Winged form has 2 pairs.
Mating season: Spring and sum-
mer. At least 2 generations in a year.
No. of eggs: 20 or more.
Incubation: 1 month.
Range of water striders.
Habit: Lives in clusters.
Diet: Insects and larvae.
Lifespan: Up to 4 months for first
generation; 8 months for second.
Water striders are common on slow-moving rivers and still or
stagnant ponds and lakes throughout the world.
Water striders are widespread and numerous, and they are in
An unusual relative of the genus
Gerris is Ha/obates, a water strider
that lives on the ocean.
no immediate danger. But detergents, oil, pesticides, and other
sources of pollution are making many ponds and lakes uninhab-
itable for water striders.
Forelimbs: Two short limbs at the
front of the body are used to grasp
prey. They are often held up and
forward, ready to strike.
Middle and hind limbs: These
very long, thin legs splay out in
an X shape to spread the body weight.
They are used to walk on the water's
surface. To help the insect walk
on the water, there is a pad
of water-repellent hairs
and a claw at the tip of
each leg.
Mouthparts: Long,
hollow, and dagger-
like, for piercing the
victim's body and suck-
ing up the tissues.
Body: Long and narrow. Col-
ored dark blue and brown,
with paler water- repellent
hairs on the underparts.
Wings: Usually found only on
insects of the second genera-
tion. There are two pairs of
wings. The forewings are
horny to protect the del icate
flying wings beneath.
0160200551 PACKET 55
On summer days water striders are a common sight
on ponds and lakes. They can be spotted by the
characteristic dimples on the water made by their legs.
These insects are specially adapted to make the most of
their life on the water's surface. They move across the
surface with ease, preying on insects that have fallen into
the water and insect larvae that live on the surface.
Water striders are found on the
surfaces of lakes, ponds, and
slow-moving rivers. They move
across the water by exploiting
surface tension, which forms a
"skin" on top of the water. Be-
cause water molecules are more
attracted to each other than to
the air above, they cling togeth-
er, creating an elastic film that
can support very light objects.
Although water striders are heav-
ier than other water-walking in-
sects, their long, splayed legs
spread their weight. The tips of
their legs are covered in water-
repellent hairs to keep the legs
dry and prevent the water strid-
erfrom sinking.
On the water surface there is
plenty of food, but there are
relatively few predators. For
insects that are unable to walk
on water, surface tension is a
trap. As soon as they hit the
surface, the tension holds them
under, and they must be very
strong to escape.
In April water striders emerge
from hibernation ready to mate.
To attract a female, the male
drums his legs on the water sur-
face. He fights off any rivals but
dies soon after mating. Over the
next few weeks the female lays
about 20 eggs on vegetation at
the water's edge. They hatch
about a month later.
A young water strider looks
like a miniature adult. Although
it molts (sheds) its skin while it
grows, its shape does not change
much. It lives in protected areas
at the water's edge or under
left: Only the tips of a water
strider's legs come into contact
with the water.
If startled, a water strider may
jump 20 inches into the air.
Water striders travel across
the water by sliding their mid-
dle and hind legs over the sur-
face. They can reach speeds of
four feet per second.
Pollution creates problems
for water striders. Detergents
vegetation, while the adult pre-
fers the open water.
At least two generations of wa-
ter striders are born each year.
The first generation hatches be-
tween May and July and lives for
about four months. These in-
sects are usually wingless, but
their offspring-which hatch in
August or September-have
wings. The first generation stays
in one place, but the second
generation flies off to colonize
other ponds. In winter these
insects hibernate in clumps of
grass near water.
Right: A young water strider is sim-
ilar in shape to an adult, but it has
a fatter body.
reduce the water's surface ten-
sion and can cause the insect
to sink. In oil-polluted water,
water striders cannot slide
their legs over the surface and
must walk instead.
In storms, water striders seek
shelter on land, where they
move slowly and clumsily.
Look for water striders on still
water in summer. Their legs
dimple the water surface and
cast shadows on the bottom.
Stand with the sun in front of
you, as the insect may dart
away if you cast a shadow on
it. If handled, it may bite.
Water striders prey on aquatic
creatures that rise to the surface
to breathe or live on the water
surface, such as mosquito lar-
vae. Insects that fall into the
water are also easy prey.
Water striders use the water
surface to locate prey in much
the same way as spiders use
their webs. With its sensitive
feet, a water strider feels the
left: A water strider sucks out the
tissues of its victim with its piercing,
hollow mouthparts.
-, ..
- ~ . '.'
- . ,.:- I
I ~ ~ ~
' - ~ .-.,,' . . - < ~ ~
I /
" I I
I / _. _,_
i _-__
ripples caused by a struggling
insect and judges where its vic-
tim is. After piercing its prey's
body with its hollow, dagger-
like mouthparts, it sucks out
the juices, leaving behind only
an empty skin.
In spring, water striders may
eat their own young if food is
scarce. They may also eat their
young by accident-if they
confuse the ripples sent out
by their young with those of
struggling insects.
" CARD 38
Leptinotarsa decemlineata
The Colorado potato beetle has been attacked with every variety
of insecticide. Yet this hardy insect still flourishes and remains a
major pest in potato fields throughout the world.
Length: Adult, in. Larva, in.
Coloration: Adult, bright yellow
with black stripes on wing covers.
Larva, deep pink with black spots
when hatched, then yellow with
black markings.
Breeding season: Late spring to
late summer.
No. of eggs: Up to 2,500, laid in
batches of 20-80.
Hatching time: 10-14 days.
Habit: Larvae feed in broods, but
adult is basically solitary.
Diet: Foliage of potato and other
plants of the nightshade family.
Lifespan: 1-2 years.
The Colorado potato beetle is one
of the leaf beetles, which also
include the elm leaf beetle, striped
cucumber beetle, and flea beetles.
Original range of the Colorado potato beetle.
Originally restricted to the Rocky Mountain states of the
United States, the Colorado potato beetle is now found
worldwide, wherever there are potato crops to feed on.
Despite exhaustive attempts to control the Colorado potato
beetle, it remains common in many areas throughout the
world and shows no sign of declining.
Adult: Sexually mature at 6 weeks old.
Active throughout the summer. May
sleep underground through the winter.
Elytra (wing covers): Horny, protective
casings over a pair of functional
wings. Each elytron is bright
yellow with 5 black stripes.
Larva: Deep pink with black spots
when hatched. Fully grown at 2 to 3
weeks, when it burrows underground
to pupate. Starts eating foliage as
soon as it emerges from the egg.
There may be up to 3 generations
in a single summer.
0160200461 PACKET 46
Since its discovery in the nineteenth century,
the infamous Colorado potato beetle has spread
to almost every country where potatoes are cultivated.
Feeding on the leaves of the crop, the beetle multiplies
to plague proportions-and it may ultimately
destroy its own food supply because of the
sheer magnitude of its numbers.

The Colorado potato beetle
originally fed on the buffalo-
bur, Solanum rostratum, a wild
plant that is a close relative of
the cultivated potato, Solanum
tuberosum. The beetle was origi-
nally limited to Central and
North America, particularly the
Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
But when pioneer farmers intro-
duced the potato during the
1 850s, they presented the bee-
tle with a new and apparently
unlimited food source.
The first infestations were
recorded in Nebraska in 1859.

beetle moved east across the
United States at a rate of 85
miles a year until it reached the
Atlantic coast.
By 1870 the Colorado potato
beetle had appeared in several
places in Germany, and within
seven years it was a serious pest
in German potato fields. By the
late 1920s this beetle was dev-
astating crops throughout con-
tinental Europe and moving
eastward into Asia. Today it is
found virtually everywhere in
the world, except on some is-
lands such as Great Britain,
where it has been suppressed.
The Colorado potato beetle
and its larvae feed on the
leaves of the potato plant,
using their powerful jaws to
slice through the leaves at an
amazing rate. A few insects
can rapidly strip a plant of its
leaves, and a thriving popula-
tion can easily ravage a whole
field. The potato tubers are
not touched because they are
underground. But once the
plants have lost their foliage,
the tubers stop growing, and
Left: The hardy Colorado potato
beetle has survived the many
attempts to destroy it.
The Colorado potato beetle
can survive both scorching
summers and arctic winters.
If alarmed, a Colorado
potato beetle will lie on its
back with its legs and anten-
nae retracted to fake death.
When it was discovered in
1824 the Colorado potato
the crop is ruined as a result.
Although the Colorado po-
tato beetle prefers to eat po-
tatoes, it will feed on related
plants such as nightshades,
tomatoes, and buffalo-burs.
These plants are all members
of the family Solanaceae, and
they have highly toxic alka-
loids (compounds containing
nitrogen) in their foliage. But
these poisons seem to have
no effect on the Colorado
potato beetle.
Right: The beetle eats just the
leaves of the potato plant, but
that is enough to destroy the crop.
beetle was considered a very
attractive rarity.
In Great Britain, people are
required to report any potato
beetle they find to the police.
They are asked to bring a spe-
cimen and note its location,
because prompt action could
prevent an outbreak.
Humans are the main enemies
of the Colorado potato beetle.
Although insecticides kill thou-
sands of potato beetles, little
damage has been done to the
overall population of this resil-
ient insect. The beetle breeds
too rapidly and profusely to be
eradicated by any known chem-
ical method.
The prolific breeding rate of the
Colorado potato beetle is the
key to its success. Each female
may lay up to 2,500 eggs in
batches of 20 to 80, attaching
them to the undersides of pota-
to leaves to protect them from
the rain and sun. These eggs
hatch within 1 0 to 14 days. The
larvae start eating at once, soon
stripping a plant of leaves.
Within two to three weeks
each larva is fully grown and
retires underground to pupate.
Left: The Colorado potato beetle
larva consumes buffalo-bur leaves
as greedily as its parent.
Another major threat to the
Colorado potato beetle comes
from the predatory Carabus
beetles, which devour both
adults and young. These large
ground beetles are one of the
best defenses against infestation
by Colorado potato beetles. But
they may be killed by the insec-
ticides intended for their prey.
After 1 0 to 1 5 days it emerges
as a mature beetle, ready to
start breeding.
In a warm summer there may
be three generations of larvae,
and the potential for population
growth is immense. One beetle
hatching in spring may have
many thousands of descendants
by fall, each capable of breed-
ing at the same rapid rate.
In winter the mature beetle
tunnels deep in the soil to hiber-
nate. It can survive freezing con-
ditions this way, emerging late
the following spring to assault
the new potato crops.
'" CARD 39 I
FAMILY ... ~
Pulicidae, etc.
Fleas are highly successful Insects. The numerous flea species have
settled in every part of the world, often spreading disease
and causing discomfort to thei, victims.
Size: Egg, .02 in. Larva, .15-.39 in.
Adult, .06-.36 in.
Mouthparts: Needlelike projec-
tions for piercing and sucking.
No. of eggs: 2-18.
Incubation: 2-3 weeks.
Larval stage: 1 y'!-28Y.! weeks.
Pupal stage: 1-50 weeks.
Habit: Parasitic, living on the skin
of warm-blooded animals.
Diet: Larva eats organic debris.
Adult feeds only on blood of mam-
mals and birds.
Lifespan: Adult, 1 8 days to 2 years.
There are about 1,800 flea species
worldwide, including the human
flea, Pulex irritans, and the rat flea,
Xenopsylla cheopsis.
4. Adult: Has a small head with 2
antennae and piercing mouthparts,
a flattened body that is covered with
hairs and spines, and
enlarged hind legs ~ , c ~ _
for jumping.
Range of fleas.
Fleas are found almost everywhere. Their eggs and pupae can
survive dry or cold weather and adults can live for long periods
without food, so fleas can live in most environments, particular-
ly if they are in the warmth of a nest or burrow.
The number of common domestic fleas has grown with
increased pet ownership and greater use of central heating.
1. Egg: Shiny white and
relatively large with
rounded ends. From 2 to
18 are laid in the host's
burrow or nest, or on its
skin, falling from there
onto the ground.
3. Pupa: When
fully grown, the
larva spins a
with debris or
dust. It pupates
for at least 7
days. The adult
emerges only
when disturbed.
2. larva:
Breaks out of the
egg after 2 to 3
weeks. It lacks
eyes and legs
but has biting
mouthparts. It
molts two times
before reaching
full size.
PRINTED IN U.S.A. 0160200591 PACKET 59
Fleas are parasites, living on the blood of birds
and mammals. Powered by its strong hind legs,
a flea can leap a great distance onto the body
of its chosen victim. Once it reaches the fur, hair,
or feathers of the host animal, it clings tightly
with its tiny claws, and its bristle-covered body
can become almost impossible to remove.
Fleas are extremely adaptable
insects that flourish wherever
suitable host animals are found.
Their bodies have been modi-
fied to suit their parasitic lifestyle
and differ from most other in-
sects' bodies. Adults vary con-
siderably in size, depending on
the species, with the males usu-
ally smaller than the females.
An adult flea is wingless with
a small head, simple eyes, and
two antennae that are partially
hidden in grooves. Its mouth-
parts consist of three needlelike
projections called stylets, which
it uses to pierce its victim's skin
and suck up the blood.
With its flattened body, a flea
can move easily through the
feathers or fur of its host. It can
cling tightly to almost any sur-
face with its tiny but strong
claws. Its covering of angled
hairs and spines helps to keep
the flea in place, making it diffi-
cult for the host to dislodge it.
Fleas can jump long distances
with their powerful, enlarged
hind legs. To gain extra power,
they compress and release an
arch of rubbery protein in the
middle of the thorax (the cen-
ter body section). But fleas use
jumping only to get onto a
host's body. Once there, they
use their sharp claws to walk
across the skin.
Adult fleas suck the blood of
mammals or birds. Each flea
species usually prefers a partic-
ular host species, but most will
feed on any available victim.
The human flea also bites pigs,
dogs, goats, and rats, while the
dog flea also feeds on humans.
A flea usually remains on its
host only while feeding. It then
hops off and rests in its victim's
Left: With its abdomen raised, a
flea penetrates deep into its victim's
skin with its mouthparts.
A flea embryo has a sharp
spine on its head to help it
crack open its egg.
Fleas can survive long peri-
ods of starvation. The human
flea can live for four months
without eating.
A flea infected with plague
develops a blockage in its
gut. When it tries to feed, in-
burrow or nest. A flea may have
to withstand long periods of
starvation before gorging itself
on a new host.
Instead of feeding on blood,
flea larvae eat dead plant and
animal debris found in a host's
burrow or nest. They may con-
sume blood in the form of the
partly digested waste excreted
by an adult flea.
Right: Fleas search for an area of
thin skin with blood vessels that
are close to the surface.
fected blood flows back into
the host. Because no food
can pass the blockage, the
flea becomes hungry and
feeds more often, spreading
the plague more rapidly.
The human flea can jump
more than a foot. This is the
same as a person jumping
over a building 360 feet high.
Fleas are known for the diseases
they can transmit . The rat flea,
for example, can carry typhus
and the bubonic plague, which
killed about 25 million people
in the Middle Ages. A person
can get one of these diseases
by being bitten by a flea that
has been infected by feeding
on a diseased rat's blood.
The flea breeds year-round in
the tropics. In cooler areas the
adults emerge only in the spring
and breed in summer.
After mating, the female has a
large meal of blood, then lays 2
to 18 eggs in the host's nest or
Left: The bird flea may wait at a
nest entrance, ready to jump on
to a host as it returns home.
Fleas may infect rabbits with
myxomatosis or transmit tape-
worms to cats and dogs. Tape-
worms live in the intestine of an
animal and produce eggs that
are excreted in the feces. If a
larval flea eats the tapeworm
eggs, they hatch in its body and
remain there until the flea is ac-
cidentally eaten by a cat or dog.
on its skin. In her lifetime, she
may lay hundreds of eggs.
The larva hatches after two to
three weeks. It molts (sheds its
covering) twice while it grows
and then spins a cocoon and
pupates. It may remain in its
cocoon for months, emerging
only when disturbed-usually
by vibrations made by the host.
In this way it ensures a host is
present when it becomes an
adult. A flea usually takes one to
two and a half months to com-
plete its lifecycle, depending on
the temperature and availability
of food.
Left: The legless larva of the flea
hatches from the egg after two or
three weeks.
"" CARD 40
, ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - -
Crane flies have very long legs-some species are even called
1/ daddy longlegs. 1/ In their adult state these creatures are harmless,
but the larvae may be pests, feeding hungrily on plant roots.
Body length: Female, up to 1 in.
Male, up to % in.
Mouthparts: Sucking.
Wings: 1 functional pair, with 1 pair
of halteres (balancers).
Breeding season: Spring (first gen-
eration) and late summer (second
Eggs: Up to 300 per adult female,
deposited in the ground.
Development time: From a few
weeks (first generation) to 7
months (second generation).
Habit: Basically solitary, but often
hatches in large numbers.
Diet: Larva eats roots and stems.
Adult laps plant juices.
There are more than 3,300 species
of crane fly worldwide.
Range of crane flies.
Species of crane flies are found worldwide except in polar and
desert regions.
Crane fly larvae are regarded as pests by many farmers and
gardeners, but attempts to control them have had little effect
on the population.
Legs: Brittle and
very long, en-
abling adult to
cling to plants
even in strong
winds. Some
species are
called "daddy
Wings: Like all members of the order
Diptera, a crane fly has two pairs of
wings in its adult form. The forewings
are strikingly marked. The hind wings
are small structures
called halteres.
Larva: Often referred to as a
"Ieatherjacket." Lives in water
or damp soil. Has a huge appetite
for plants.
~ - - - -
Halteres (above): Part of a sophisti-
\ ~ ' . cated flight mechanism, these. tiny
. . hind wings are used for balance
. when a crane fly is in
flight. These clublike
structures vibrate when the
forewings vibrate. The club
on the end of each haltere acts
as a weighted balance, counter-
acting the motion of the fore-
wings and enabling a crane
fly to control its flight.
0160200471 PACKET 47
A crane fly larva, or leather jacket, has an enormous
appetite for plant stems and roots. But an adult crane fly
hardly eats at all during its brief lifetime. Its sole purpose
is to breed, and the process takes up almost all of its
energy. As a result, the male dies shortly after mating. The
female lives a little longer-just until she lays all her eggs.
Crane flies produce two genera-
tions each year. When the first-
generation adults hatch in late
April or May, they immediately
search for mates.
Crane flies are most numerous
near water, in damp, shady loca-
tions with plenty of vegetation.
Here, in moist ground near
grasses or clovers, the female
lays about 300 eggs. In a warm
summer the eggs hatch after
about two weeks, producing
gray, maggotlike larvae that are
called leather jackets because of
their tough skin.
A crane fly larva feeds vora-
ciously and grows fast. It sheds
its skin several times before
wriggling up to the surface layer
of soil to pupate. In this pupal
stage the insect is developing
into an adult inside a cocoon
and does not feed. When the
transformation is complete, the
cocoon splits open, and an adult
crane fly emerges.
A second generation of adult
crane flies emerges in late sum-
mer, often in huge numbers.
After mating, the female lays
eggs in a few days, and the cy-
cle starts again, this time taking
much longer. The larvae hatch
in fall and spend all winter feed-
ing underground. Surviving lar-
vae pupate in spring, emerging
as adults in April or May.
True flies have only one pair of
wings, but most flying insects
have two pairs. In the order
Diptera, the second pair of
wings has been modified into
small structures called halteres.
These tiny hind wings help
crane flies keep their balance
and fly in a straight line.
The halteres vibrate when a
crane fly vibrates its wings.
But the heavy "club" on the
end of each haltere acts like a
pendulum and keeps the hal-
Left: Adult crane flies are most
often found near water or a good
supply of vegetation.
A crane fly's legs are very
long but surprisingly weak.
The insect cannot run and
uses its legs only to cling
to vegetation.
The male adult crane fly
often emerges before the
female and may have a long
tere swinging in the same
plane, even if the insect
changes direction. Sensory
cells at the base of each hal -
tere register changes in orien-
tation and send messages to
the flight control center in the
crane fly's nervous system. If
necessary, a correction can be
made to bring the insect back
on course. The system actual-
ly makes tiny corrections all
the time so that the insect can
fly in a straight line.
Right: An adult crane fly can sur-
vive the loss of one or two of its
brittle, spindly legs.
search before finding a mate.
Despite its sophisticated
flight mechanism, a crane fly
has little control in the air. It
cannot fly in windy weather:
it must remain on the ground
in anything stronger than a
gentle breeze.
Left: Crane fly
larvae are con-
sidered pests
by farmers and
gardeners. But
they do major
damage to veg-
etation only in
large numbers.
Adult crane flies are most nu-
merous in late summer, when
thousands may swarm over
damp grasslands. The larvae
are much less conspicuous,
but they are found by birds
such as starlings and crows.
The larvae, or leatherjackets,
that hatch from crane fly eggs
have bigger appetites than the
adults. They spend most of
their time tunneling through
the earth searching for roots.
They prefer the roots of grasses,
including the roots of crops
such as wheat and barley.
At night the larvae may come
to the surface to gnaw at plant
stems. They may even pull sev-
ered plants underground. Where
leatherjackets are numerous,
they can kill enough plants to
create large, bare patches of
Left: An adult crane fly's tubelike
mouthparts are ideal for sucking
nectar and plant fluids.
The birds can be seen mov-
ing across a lawn, stopping at
intervals to dig out the larvae.
The birds eat more larvae in
winter than in summer, when
the insects are hard to dig up
from the sun-baked earth.
soil. They are considered pests
by gardeners and farmers, who
try to eliminate them.
Like many insects, a crane fly
is in the final phase of its life
during the winged adult stage.
It is no longer growing so it
feeds very little. Its mouthparts
form a fleshy tube so it can
suck nectar and other plant
fluids for sustenance.
A crane fly's only purpose
is to breed, and that process
takes nearly all its energy. As
a result, the male dies shortly
after mating. The female lasts
longer, but only until she has
laid all her eggs. Then she too
dies, her job completed.