11 April 1994
Volume 2: no. 4
The large Royal, Luna, Sphinx and Underwing moths are all flying. Now is the time to get out and look for these night flying beauties. If you are a bit lazy, at least get up early and check around one of your favorite lights for some activity. I captured a beautiful Royal Moth on a parking lot underneath a light this week and have had reports from others about seeing Lunas. Butterflies are also flying. Many of the Sulfurs and larger butterflies have already become active. I recently received via internet a request which I want to pass on to you:
I'm writing from the World School for Adventure Learning, an electronic network of classrooms that are joined by Internet. I'd like to ask your help on our spring project.
This spring our students will be mapping, for the first time ever, the spring migration of monarch butterflies as they travel north from Mexico. We're looking for contacts around the country who are willing to watch for the monarch butterfly as it arrives in their area and report their sightings to us electronically.
Your data will be part of Journey North, the World School's spring program that will let students witness the miracle of migration as it happens. In addition to the monarch butterfly, students around the world will track on-line the migration of whales, eagles, sea turtles, songbirds and waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. Journey North has been developed and designed by the University of Indiana, and Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. The more butterfly observations we have the more complete the migration map will be, so pass the word along. If you are interested in participating in this exciting project, please send a confirmation ASAP and more information will follow.
Journey North Program World School for Adventure Learning
708 Osceola Avenue,
St. Paul, MN 55105
If you are interested in participating in this project, contact Cassandra for more information. I have the reporting forms which I can send to anyone who is interested in reporting Monarch sightings. The Journey North Program monitors 16 migratory animals. Monarchs have already arrived in Texas, so there is a possibility that you will see some soon.
The plans for the camp on June 5-10, 1994 are coming together. We visited the site last week and are all set for a great camp. YOUR REGISTRATION IS ALL WE LACK! We must have registrations in hand by May 6, so that we can be sure that enough supplies are ordered for the camp. We have a design for our T-shirt ( a copy of the design is enclosed in this Gloworm). We are still encouraging adults as well as young people ages 10 to 18 to join us at Holmes County State Park for a week of excitement - bug style!
More Insect Projects: Insects have been used in various commercial ways for centuries. The Chinese and other Eastern cultures developed the silkworm and its gossamer by-product, silk, into a world market which has lasted for nearly 5000 years. Shellac is produced from the secretions of the lac insect, a scale which grows on fig, banyan, and other plants in the Far East. Dyes and other products have been produced from insects from the southwestern U.S. Bees and bee byproducts make up a multi-million dollar industry. At times companies, like Myles Laboratories and others, collect insects for their venom to make allergy extracts or for research. These specialty uses are usually not very profitable to the collector.
The renewed interest in organic gardening has also brought renewed interest in beneficial insects. Included in this group are ladybird beetles, lacewings, preying mantids, and a number of parasitic insects. Commercial production of beneficial insects has been locally successful at times, though never on a large scale. Ladybird beetles and mantids are sold to organic gardeners in some areas. These insects are difficult to culture, but they may often be collected in large numbers from naturally occurring populations.
Insect pets - Crickets, mantids, and ants are among those insects kept as pets. Crickets and mantids may be held in screened cages or terrariums. Cricket culture will be discussed in a future Gloworm. Mantids may be kept in small screened cages or terrariums, but since they are predators they will cannibalize one another and other insects. Thus, one or two mantids per cage are adequate for pets. They will feed on almost any other insect placed in their cage. Ants are usually kept in a specially constructed vertical box with glass sides. The box should be constructed of glass sides 12 inches long by 12 inches deep and 1.5 inches wide. The top, ends, and bottom of the box must be of sturdy wood and must be ant proof. The glass sides must be of opaque material; otherwise the tunnels will all be away from the glass and not visible. Ants may be introduced into the cage by digging up a colony and placing it along with dirt into the box. It is essential that the queen and all stages and castes be included in the mixture. Do not use FIRE ANTS. These social insects will live quite well if a dampened sponge is kept in the box on the surface of the soil and if a few insects or a few drops of honey or molasses are added occasionally for food.
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837