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We have a lot of white threads around this week.

The threads are a type of silk.

Here's another patch of silk.

One patch of silk was made by the creature in the photograph above.

The other patch of silk was made by these creatures.

Can you tell which is which?

Why do you think the animals make silk? Do they both make it for the same reason(s)?



Sometimes simply adding one plant to your yard can attract new insects. This week our Mexican hat or prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) is flowering.


Look at all the bugs enjoying the blooms.


Of course you would expect to see bees visiting flowers.


This bee was collecting loads of pollen.

beetle-0290Also visiting the flowers were beetles,

lacebug-0311lace bugs,

looper-caterpillar-231and a looper or geometrid caterpillar. Actually, there are two caterpillars in this photograph. Look down and to the left.

tiny-caterpillar-in-focus242Maybe you can see it better in this photograph. It looks like a thread of white on the edge of the petal towards the bottom. It is a first instar or newly-hatched caterpillar.

crab-spider-plus0307Wherever there are bugs feeding on plants, there are predators like this crab spider ready to feed on the bugs.

Dung beetles have a rather odd lifestyle, but nonetheless they are fascinating for a number of reasons.

dungbeetle-X2(Public domain photograph by Alex Wild)

  1. Dung beetles help recycle dung by feeding on it.
  2. Dung beetles either roll the dung or bury it to prevent it from drying out.
  3. Dung beetles navigate to and from their burrows by the position of the sun and some can even navigate by recognizing the Milky Way at night.
  4. Female dung beetles, or sometimes both parents, may stay with their offspring after the eggs hatch and take care of them, something that is unusual with insects.
  5. Although most often seen on the ground, the adult beetles are actually strong fliers.

We'll learn more about one of the first people to dung beetles for STEM Friday this week.