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The rush milkweed (also called desert milkweed) plants are in bloom.

Turns out the buds, flowers, and seed pods are a bounty of food for insects.

If you have been following Bug of the Week, you can probably recognize some of the seven insects that I found on the rush milkweed today.

  1. What are the  yellow-orange insects?

2. How about this red and black one?

3. What is this insect? What do you think it's waiting for?

4. Here's another waiting insect. What is it?

5. This one is tricky. What do you think it is?

6. This is another tough one. We've already looked at the yellow orange insects. So, what is the pale green oval at the end of the hairlike stalk?

7. Finally, who is this striped cutie?

Milkweeds are home to some interesting insects. Do you have any milkweeds growing nearby?

Edit:  The answers are now posted.

If you are going to be teaching a class or doing an art project and you need images of insects or spiders, check out Insects Unlocked. Their goal is to supply high quality public domain insect photographs for anyone who needs to use them.

Examples downloaded from their Flickr photostream:

How about an image that shows the diversity of beetles?

assorted-beetlesBeetles come in such as range of sizes, shapes, and colors.

public-domain-green-june-beetleHere's a green June beetle. I love how this photographer used a human finger for scale. It really brings you into the photograph.

glowworm-beetle-maleWait, that's a beetle? Yes, it is the face-on view of a male glowworm beetle in flight. Its antennae look like curly fringe, don't they?

I also like how the credits are included with the image. Its always a good idea to make sure the source and/or photographer gets credit even with public domain images. This site makes it easy to do.

If you use one of their images in a project, feel free to leave us a comment telling us about it. We'd like some ideas about how they are being used.









Ever see fireflies light up a summer night? It can be an amazing sight.

What are fireflies?

firefly-side-aFireflies (also called lightning bugs) are beetles. Many of the adults and some of the larvae are able to produce light via a chemical process.

firefly_0365Not all fireflies light up. The ones that fly during the day and don't flash at night are sometimes called "dark fireflies." Without the ability to flash, dark fireflies attract each other via chemicals called pheromones.

firefly-1Adult firefly beetles often can be found resting on plants during the day.

Do fireflies occur where you live? Would you like to study them? You might want to get involved with the Firefly Watch citizen science project.

To learn more about the science of fireflies check out this video from ScienceFriday which explains more about why and how fireflies light up (Note: It does talk about fireflies mating and a predator, so check for suitability before showing to children.)


See a review of the new adult popular science book Silent Sparks by Sara Lewis at Wild About Ants.