CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Beautiful Bugs
Good Afternoon Watershed Explorers,
Today's critter spotlight will be a general one to get you interested in learning more about BUGS! Many people consider BUGS to be pests. I am hoping if you feel that way that this blog changes your mind. Bugs are really beautiful and since insects alone represent more than one million species on the tree of life, we are surrounded by them.
You may think of bugs as insects, but there are many tiny creatures that are not insects that many people would classify as BUGS. There are pill bugs which are really crustaceans like crayfish, there are worms which are annelids, and there are spiders too. Entomologists, which are scientists who study bugs, only use the term bugs for creatures in a group called Hemiptera. These are the true bugs. These creatures have beak-like mouthparts and front wings that fold over their backs. True bugs are water striders, bed bugs, and assassin bugs. However, there are plenty more little crawling creatures that many of us would consider BUGS!
Some creatures that are considered bugs can cause humans harm. It is really important to always remember to be considerate of all creatures when observing or handling them. It's also best to keep away from bugs that can be dangerous to humans, including those that carry disease or inflict harm. All living creatures are important to watershed areas, even mosquitos that carry deadly diseases. Attempting to avoid these creatures and/or managing them with natural control is always better than killing them with pesticides or other unnatural methods. For example, amphibians and bats love to eat mosquitos, so providing a habitat for these creatures and allowing them to rid your yard of these pesky insects is much better than spraying harmful chemicals.
Here are two really cool pages from a great book entitled, Busy with Bugs. After reading about these bugs, go on a bug hunt and see if you can find some!
As NBC Watershed Explorers, we will be talking about interesting bugs called macroinvertebrates this year. Macroinvertebrates are small animals without bones. Macroinvertebrates tell watershed scientists a ton about the health of watersheds. These really important critters are indicator species for water. What does this mean? Some macroinvertebrates have very strong bodies and can live in water where there is pollution, other macroinvertebrates are very sensitive and cannot withstand water with pollutants. If scientists find many sensitive macroinvertebrates in the water it indicates a healthy watershed area, if scientists find many tolerant macroinvertebrates, it indicates a compromised watershed area.
I really hope you enjoyed learning more about bugs today and I hope that you will get out to explore. Bring your Watershed Explorer notebook and take some notes about the bugs that you observe!
Happy exploring my friends,