Late summer and fall are when many species reach their zenith and spin conspicuous webs across wooded paths, window sills, and hedges. As predators, spiders are an important part of the ecosystem and help keep insect populations in check. Join producer Steve Clark and Dr. Art Evans to find out more about these amazing, yet often misunderstood animals.
What's Bugging You?
Dr. Arthur V. Evans teams up with WCVE Public Radio producer Steve Clark for a weekly feature, “What’s Bugging You?,” which airs during NPR’s Morning Edition. The program takes its name from another of Evans’ books “What’s Bugging You – A Fond Look at the Animals We Love to Hate.”
Tune-in each Tuesday morning at 8:35 a.m. on 88.9 WCVE, Richmond’s Public Radio station.
WCVE Public Radio producer Steve Clark and entomologist Dr. Art Evans talked with best selling author Amy Stewart about her latest book Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects. Her most recent effort details some 100 “bug” culprits that have or have had the most dangerous effects on humans.
Casey’s June beetle, Dinacoma caseyi Blaisdell, is known from only two populations in the southern part of Palm Springs, California. Its remaining habitat of roughly 600 acres consists of approximately nine fragments and is rapidly declining. Adults emerge from the ground to mate in late March through June and reach their peak in mid to late May. The females have reduced wings and are flightless, while the males are fully-winged and capable of flight. Little is known of their life cycle or food plant preferences.
One of the largest wasps now found throughout Eastern North America, the European Hornet first arrived around 1840.
The hornets prefer to build their papery nest in a protected area such as under steps or inside tree holes. They will strip away bark from lilacs and other shrubs to use as building material, which they chew to make the paper nest.
The young of these insect predators are fed mostly a diet of pre-chewed flies and other insects, usually captured on the wing. Adult wasps prefer sap or nectar.
The GOES-13 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) captured this powerful image of Hurricane Irene inundating North Carolina and Virginia on the 27th of August, 2011. WCVE producer Steve Clark and Dr. Art Evans, Entomologist discuss what effects hurricanes and earthquakes might have on insect populations.
Horseshoe crabs are not crabs at all. They are the distant cousins of arachnids such as scorpions and spiders.
While sorting through some spring Malaise trap samples from the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve, Dr. Art Evans came across a single specimen of an unfamiliar beetle about five millimeters in length. After a bit of research, Evans determined the beetle to be Omethes marginatus LeConte in the family Omethidae.
The specimen represents a new species AND family record for Virginia. Omethes marginatus was previously known from Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; additional new state records include Arkansas and Indiana.
Steve Clark and Dr. Art Evans continue their discussion of forensic entomology and how a forensic entomologist cracked an unusual case involving a misplaced millipede and an allegation of child abuse.
Cicada killers, Sphecius speciosus, are large and solitary wasps that are widespread east of the Rocky Mountains and are active from mid July to September. Males emerge first. They stake out and defend territories in anticipation of females that emerge about a week later. Both males and females drink nectar for their own sustenance. Female cicada killers hunt cicadas by sight, sometimes capturing them in flight, and deliver a paralyzing sting. The living cicada is stuffed down a burrow as provisions for the developing cicada killer larva.
The name "mantis" means soothsayer – an attribution relating to it’s typical “prayer-like” stance.
Mantids, with their huge compound eyes mounted on a triangular shaped head, are literally able to look over their shoulder. With a combination of incredibly powerful forelegs, camouflage, and stealth mantids can quickly seize unwitting prey in a vice-like grip and devour it alive.
As with the black widow spider, male mantids occasionally become the unfortunate meal of the female. However, his sacrifice provides much needed protein for the female's egg production.