Bill's Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Weird Bugs

Another neat thing about visiting my parents out in the country is the myriad of wild life we get to see. We don't live in the big city here, but compared to them, we might as well. Their home is surrounded by corn fields and there are cows within earshot. Every trip out, includes seeing something neat, whether it's dear eating the corn, freshly hatched birds, or cool insects.

A few weeks ago, we were out visiting and my brother was outside with the dogs. He came in and said you guys have to come see this. We all followed him outside and he showed us this little guy:

With the help of the good people at What's That Bug? we were able to determine that this little guy (not really all that little) was a newly metamorphosed Manduca sexta (Tobacco Sphinx or Tomato Hornworm) and its wings were not fully developed yet. Had it lived, the wings would have grown larger (as big as 5" span). We probably won't be seeing many more of them on future visits as my parents have begun spraying their tomato garden to ward against the hornworm.

This past weekend while we were out visiting, we came across a couple of interesting spiders. I didn't have the camera, but I was able to find a picture online of the same species. They are very interesting colored, black with very bright yellow striping.

Golden Orb Weaver

What was more interesting than the looks was the behavior. I wanted to see how they moved around and observe them on motion, so I grabbed a twig and gently nudged the larger of the two. It moved a little, mainly just to center itself on the web and then began to shake the web back and form. It seemed to do this any time it was agitated and only the larger of the two spiders did it. We figured it was some sort of posturing to ward off any attackers or something. I found out the spiders were Golden Orb Weavers (Argiope aurantia). The behavior of shaking the web is a mechanism for warding of predators. The shaking makes the silk of the web appear white instead of transparent and this moving object servers to scare away predators. Very fascinating.

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  • I don't have the pics uploaded yet, but the Golden Orb Weaver must have hitched a ride in our van on our last visit to my parents. My wife showed me one that has built its web between plants in our garden and the neighbors shed. I'll get some pictures up tomorrow.

    By Blogger Bill Blankmeyer, at 29 September, 2005 11:31  

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