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The Bugs of Bernheim: Cicada Killers

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Cicada Killers: who's listening? On hot summer days, the air is filled with the sound of cicadas.  The male's mating call is a loud series of beats and clicks strung together to make one long, continuous undulating song.  While preoccupied with finding love, the cicada has inadvertently captured the attention of another female insect who eagerly … [Read more]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Recently, I discovered bird droppings on a Pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) in my backyard.  Upon closer inspection it turns out, they were young caterpillars of one of my favorites, Zebra Swallowtail butterflies.  I was only momentarily torn between our native Pawpaw tree, which is the only temperate representative of an otherwise tropical plant … [Read more]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Click Beetles

Photo credit: Missouri Department of Conservation, Jim Rathert

Click Beetles are named after the noise they make when grabbed by a predator.  This amazing insect will fall onto its back after a confrontation with a predator and play dead.  In order to right itself, a Click Beetle will bend its head and chest forward, then place a spike in its chest into a hook in its abdomen.  Releasing the spine from the hook … [Read more]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Diptera, The True Flies

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Diptera, the true flies, are named because unlike many insects, they fly using two true wings.  There are more than 150,000 different species of flies. [In Greek:  Di = two, and Ptera = wings] While most people tend to think of them as dirty creatures, perhaps we should take a second look at that assumption.  In reality, our world would be a … [Read more]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Protective Resemblance

While crouching in a thicket during a game of hide-and-seek when I was about ten years old, I spied what appeared to be a thorn moving along the stem of a blackberry bramble. Taking a closer look, I noticed tiny legs beneath this “thorn” moving it along. I soon discovered that the wings folded over the back and formed a curved point --a perfect … [Read more]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Grasshoppers

Photo credit: Kansas State University

The Orthoptera order of insects derives from the Greek words “ortho” meaning straight and “ptera” meaning wing. Grasshoppers, Locusts, Katydids, and Crickets are all included in this order. Caelifera, otherwise known as grasshopper, has at least 11,000 species within its suborder. This insect may be elusive to some as the male is heard chirping … [Read more]