Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Feed an Antlion

Today I’m sharing photos and writing for kids of all ages.  
When it comes to some things, I’ll always be a kid. 
 I remember very well spending hours watching insects, frogs, 
and whatever other little creatures I could find. 
 I could still be quite content spending time like that.  
It’s just that time is a little harder to find now than it was back then!

I wonder if you have you ever noticed sandy looking
 little cone shaped holes in the ground?  
Do you know what they are? 
Ever wonder who made them, or why they’re there? 

They’re a special kind of trap made by a hungry lion!!!  
Now, it might not be the lion you’re thinking of. 
 It’s not hungry for gazelles and zebras, it’s hungry for ants!  
This lion is kind of ugly.  It’s a dirty brown color with long pinchers in the front 
that are perfect for snagging ants that wander into its trap.  
This Antlion is actually a larva that develops into a flying insect 
which looks a little bit like a small dragonfly or a lacewing. 

 You can often find these Antlion traps under porches, swing sets, picnic tables, 
or anywhere there is bare soil that is loose and dry.
  If you can discover some Antlion pits, 
you’ll probably be able to feed an Antlion. J

 First of all you’ll need to find some ants. 

 Drop one or two into a pit, hold very still, watch, and wait. 
 The ant will try to escape, but the steep sides and loose sand 
will cause it to keep sliding back into the bottom of the trap
 where the Antlion is waiting. 
(Sometimes an extra lucky ant will make it to the top.  
Yay for the American Ninja Ant Warrior!  I’ll let you decide if he has earned his freedom or if you drop him back into the terrible trap.) 
 You may even see dirt shooting up, knocking the ant 
back down to the bottom of the pit where the he can be nabbed.  
This is the Antlion’s dirt flicking trick to keep him from escaping.  
If everything goes right for the Antlion, you will soon see 
the ant disappear as he pulls his prize down underground for supper.
 Here you can see that I've circled Ant Number 2 
who's been caught, and only his legs are sticking out.
 If you would like to actually see the Antlion, you will have to dig him up.  
Take a small spoon and very carefully dig at the side of the pit. 
Don’t go straight down at the bottom 
or you will squish the little guy.  
Gently scoop up the dirt from the very bottom of the pit, 
and spread it out on a light colored paper.  
The Antlion will probably lie on his back with his feet in the air playing dead. 
(Once you return him to his home, he’ll begin burrowing back underground.)

 Here is a small Antlion I dug from a small sized trap.  
The ant is almost as big as he is!

Can you spot the Antlion burrowing back underground?  
They are well camouflaged!  

I would love to hear your Antlion stories or other insect stories in the comment section!

“Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”
Psalm 148:7-13

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rhinoceros Beetles and Such

I was inspired by a Rhinoceros Beetle 
to look through some of my random summer bug pictures.  
(I’m not being too scientific here – “bug” meaning
 things that are sort-of-buglike.)

Here is a Robber Fly who found himself trapped
 in our Jeep where I was able to get a picture of him.
  (Google is my best friend for insect identification. 
Much easier than the field guides!)

He is slightly adorable and frightening at the same time.  
Like Uncle Si.  
And he’s not a tiny fly.  
He’s over an inch long!
Instead of thinking “squish it” when you see a bug,
 why not actually take time to notice 
the amazing features that make them unique?  
Each little detail on each little bug shows 
something beyond our own humanness.

Ants are always fun to watch.  
Unless they are biting you of course.  
This little guy was dragging this monstrous grub
 across our front porch. 
Talk about vision and determination! 

An Eastern Buckmoth with its beautifully 
furry underside.

The Willow Oak in our front yard had quite a few
 Yellowstriped Oakworm caterpillars on it.  
We finally figured out why some had shiny bulging
 bodies and some had a more matte skin 
with stripes that didn’t look so stretched.  
They molt!  
Here's one coming out of his skin.
Here are a cluster of the caterpillars growing fat 
on the oak leaves.  
See the ones who are about to molt?  
Their skins are glossy black from being stretched to the max.  
The one with the yellow head is in the process of leaving his skin behind.  
Apparently the heads turn back to black when they dry.
I like bugs.  But this many crawling around on my hand?  
Ummm… maybe not!  
My kids are cooler than I am.

With their bulgy alien eyes on the sides of their heads 
and their clear wings, 
they’re pretty awesome.  
A few weeks ago we heard a Cicada buzzing in our back yard.  
Not their normal raspy song, but the distressed buzzing sound they make.  
Kadence went to find it.   
Sure enough, it had been attacked by a Giant European Hornet.  
Very interesting to watch.  
I didn’t get any great photos though, 
cause I didn’t want to disturb the hornet.  
If you read on the internet that these hornets rarely sting, don’t believe it.  
I was stung by one that flew to the light on 
our front porch one night, landed on me, and stung me instantly.  
Some of the worst pain ever!!!

On a happier note, I saw a picture online of a 
Robber Fly (at the top of this post) 
eating one of these ginormous hornets.  
That Robber Fly is getting cuter all the time.

What I think is a Walnut Sphinx Moth that 
flew to our front door at night.

And the best is saved for last – the Rhinoceros Beetle 
that my dad brought to church last Sunday!  
He found it on his shoe when he got in the car, 
so he brought it along and had some fun.  
To the dismay of some of the ladies at church.  
Good times! J
This big  guy is over two inches long!  
I don’t believe everything I read online, 
but “they” say that these males don’t hurt 
when they pinch with their horns. 
I didn’t bother sticking my finger in to check if “they” are correct! 

Speaking of details, look at his hooks that are feet.  Pretty cool.

Sitting on my foot for size perspective.
I told you my kids are cool.  
And he is alive and crawling up her shirt 
(in case you’re wondering)! J

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities
--His eternal power and divine nature--
have been clearly seen, 
being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse."
Romans 1:20

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beautiful Eyes - I Heart Faces Entry

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.
Is that why there are beautifully sad eyes
 on rainy summer days?

The challenge theme for September is “Beautiful Eyes”
at I Heart Faces.

Photo Challenge Submission

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