What do Jumping Spiders and cats have in common? Apart from being adorably fuzzy, they are also both enraptured by laser pointers! The reason being Jumping Spiders’ powerful and rather unique eyes which can even see the moon. Not bad for something whose eyes are less than a millimeter large.
If the first rule of looking for insects is “check the flowers,” then wild geraniums(Geranium maculatum) are the flower to watch right now. Insects perceive UV light differently than we do, and the transparent veins that lead them across the petals to the payload at the center of the flower (they’re called “nectar guides”) are far more conspicuous to them.
Another celebration of insects that are not good enough nor bad enough nor beautiful enough nor bizarre enough to have fan clubs, or common names, or even much of a biography.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English carol that was probably borrowed from the French and that was originally an acapella chant/call-and-response/children’s memory game. It first appeared in writing in 1780, and there were (and still are) many variations of it, though the words were more-or-less standardized when an official melody was finally written for it in 1909.
Splendid Dwarf Spiders belong to the large Linyphiidae spider family. Linyphiids are second in species numbers only to Jumping spiders and are a dominant group of spiders in the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere (where they’re sometimes seen walking on snow). Splendid dwarf spiders are found from coast to coast, mostly across the northern half of the U.S. and southern Canada.
Brilliant Jumping Spiders, a.k.a. Red and black jumping spiders, can be found from coast to coast but are more common in the eastern half of North America. Creatures of tallgrass prairies and open spaces, these spiders not only sit near the tops of plants, they put their nests and egg sacs there, too.
Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.
Nursery Web Spiders are found in tall grass, along wooded edges, and in shrubs (and sometimes houses) from the Atlantic into the Great Plains (the species is also found in Europe), and one spider expert speculates that Pisaura mira may be one of the most common spiders in eastern North America.
Dandelions produce both nectar and pollen and so are appreciated by wildlife, especially early bees and butterflies (100 species of pollinators have been tallied). The BugLady has been dawdling among dandelions to see who else appreciates them. She saw representatives of 8 kinds of hymenopterans (ants/bees/wasps), 4 kinds of flies, 3 of arachnids (spiders and spider relatives), and 1 beetle. Seen, but not photographed, were a few cabbage butterflies.
It turns out that spiders aren’t the only animals that make silk. The ability to make silk is found in most of the 26 (or so) insect orders. Larvae of many of the species of insects that have complete metamorphosis (egg-larva-pupa-adult)—like ants, wasps, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies—can make silk. Young fleas, lacewings, mayflies, thrips, some leafhoppers do it. Silverfish, and a family called “raspy crickets,” and a primitive little tropical order called Embioptera (web spinners) make silk as adults.