Flipping rocks was somewhat disappointing at first. It has been the third driest summer on record in central Arizona, and because the summer is when we normally get most of our precipitation, we are really dry. The terms dry as a bone, parched, and desiccated come to mind. Most of the rocks we looked under would normally have isopods (rolypolies), ants or earwigs, but we didn’t see any of those. Occasionally we might see a scorpion. We didn’t see any of those either.
What we did find was this:
Any ideas what might cause these white tunnels? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t a type of spider, although it is made of silk.
In fact, the tunnels are made by an insect. Here are some photos I took of one earlier this summer.
All in all, we saw something we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and realized how much the lack of rain is changing the environment for even tiny things that live under rocks. And best of all, we got outside and had some fun.
I found an unusual insect this morning. Here is a peek:
This is a webspinner. It may look a little like a termite reproductive (or swarmer), but I can tell it is not because it has bulges on its front legs. Those bulges contain special glands that make silk. Webspinners are the only insects that make silk with their legs!
This is a male webspinner. It is a male because it has wings and because it was out and about, not hidden. Females lack wings and hide under layers of silk laid under stones, piles of leaves or on bark of trees. I have only seen a female a few times.
Webspinners (Order Embioptera) are small, shy and are completely harmless. Not much is known about them because they are reclusive. Webspinners have two appendages at the rear, and some people think they may be related to earwigs, our bug of the week last week.