Thursday, July 05, 2007

Where the bugs are

This is a special post for arboretum nature guides who may be interested in leading a group on a bug safari tour next week but didn't get to come tour our Preview Bug Hunt tonight. (Thanks to Jerry, Lou and Diane for coming!)

It should be fun, with plenty of bugs to see, but because it will be in the evening, and there will be so many more people than a "regular" bug safari, there are a few special considerations:

Limit the use of the nets. First of all, there will likely be more children than there are nets. Second, and more important, there won't be a heck of a lot to use the nets for anyway. By the time the sunlight is no longer shining directly on the plants, very few bugs will still be flying. I still think it's a good idea for each guide, and maybe one other willing adult in the group to carry a net, just in case, but you might not even need it.

Because insect activity goes down with the sun, seek areas that are still sunny for the best chance to see bees and butterflies. Other bugs, such as grasshoppers, spiders and inchworms, will continue to "hang out" even as it begins to get dark. The trick is just looking and finding.

Whenever possible, try to have the kids observe the bugs right on the flowers and plants. That way, the bugs will still be in place when the next group comes through. If they do handle something, like the ladybugs or box elder bugs, please encourage them to release them where they found them when they are finished observing them.

What follows is, in no particular order, my best attempt at showing any other interested guides where they might want to take the kids to look for bugs, and what they can hope to find.

This is the path that parallels the entrance path. There is a bunch of milkweed there, with various bugs (no monarch caterpillars that I could see)

Tiny milkweed bugs cluster on the seedpods.

Oleander aphids

Ladybug larva

Along the path to the Pavillion, there are dusty-colored mallow plants that have some grasshoppers in them. Also, there are some little yellow flowers that attract bees, including the metallic green "sweat bees".

On the west side of the offices, there's this one bush full of spittle bugs.

You can pick off a little blob of spittle and carefully reveal the tiny bug inside.
These insects protect their soft bodies with their spittle "homes", and suck the juices out of the plant stems.

In front of Oak Hall, these little shrubs are full of ladybugs, their larvae, and pupae, too.

There are always a few people attending the bug safaris who aren't aware that ladybugs, like all beetles, go through a metamorphosis just like butterflies.

The tall fennel plants have ladybugs, and, if you're lucky some anise swallowtail caterpillars.

This one had several caterpillars on it a few days ago. Tonight we only saw one. I blame the wasps. (more on that later)

These low-lying, leafy plants next to the fennel have little grasshoppers and katydids on them.
Did I mention they are little? Hopefully a pack of sharp-eyed kids will be able to find them.

The fried egg poppies have a mid-size green lynx spider. These spiders don't build a web, but stake out a territory, usually near flowers, and grab bees and other bugs that are attracted to the flower.

On this path that runs between the Chaparral and Channel Islands areas there are a couple of plants that have bugs. The more distant circled bush is the bladderpod. It has lots of harlequin bugs on it.

Round bodied harlequin nymphs.

Sheild shaped adult harlequin bug.

Then, downhill a bit is this little mallow-y bush next to the bench. Its blooming season is just about done, but you still may see a variety of bugs on it, including tree crickets.

This is a tree cricket.

It's very tedious making such a long and photo-filled post (Blogger uploads pictures so slowly!!)
So I've divided this post up to make it more manageable. You can get to the next section by clicking here.
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