12 August 2002
Volume X no. 3
Quite often we allow things to crowd in and cause us to procrastinate. That's been the fate of the Gloworm, recently. It seems there are many things which need to be done but I don't quite get there. That's not the way it is with an insect - they have to go with the flow. So I guess in some ways we need to learn from the insects around us, but I will hasten to say we don't need to always let that be our guide, because we do have a higher calling than to just let things happen around us. Enough buggy philosophy for now, consider the news and opportunities in 4-H Entomology.
Camps for 2002 are completed and they are mostly recorded on the WWW. Check out the 4-H Entomology Camps on the web: http://www.msstate.edu/Entomology/4 H/camp.html.
We had 2 successful camps in 2002 with 120 campers coming from 9 states. Two young men from California drove in to attend for the first time. We also had campers from Missouri, Ohio, Vermont, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, and of course Mississippi. Many of the campers left camp with a new energy to understand the world of insects around them and a number of them also filled an insect display box with enough specimens for the fair this fall. We were also able to offer Continuing Education Units to teachers this year. As usual, we got quality participation from adult campers, too! Our camps are largely successful because of the intense interest of the campers and our adult campers add stability to the sessions. We've not set the dates or location for camp for 2003, but will try to get that done and the notification out in the next few weeks. We'll plan on having 2 camps again in 2003. The camp Web Site will have the latest information.
Other 4-H entomology activities:
The American Bee Federation has announced the title for the 2003 Bee Essay Contest: Beekeeping in Colonial Times. Full contest rules are available on the web site at http://www.msstate.edu/Entomology/4 H/bee2002.html.
The deadline for Mississippi Bee Essay entries is 15 January 2003!!! Don't wait to get started on your essay, do it as a school writing project, then send it in November or December. Who knows you might get a good grade and some extra cash, as well. The Essay contest is open to ALL 4-Hers.
Linnaean Games: Preparation for the Regional 4-H Entomology Games in Memphis is going strong in most of the surrounding states. There are teams registered to `play' from Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. The games in Mississippi caused quite a stir this year. Junior competition at the 4-H Centennial Celebration - the Linnaean Superbowl resulted in Covington County Juniors in first place with Copiah Juniors close behind in second and Attala Juniors were third. Senior competition was also strong this year - Lee county was 1st, Webster was 2nd and Jones was 3rd.
Insect Collections: County, State and Regional Fair time is upon us and insect collections should be ready to go for display. Be sure to check your collection to make sure it s protected from scavengers. Most 4-Hers use moth balls or crystals, but pest strips also work well. Remember in order to qualify for the shows, collections must have a minimum of 10 Orders and at least 50 specimens for first year collections. The idea is for 4-Hers to add to their collection each year increasing the number of species and Orders as new acquisitions are made. Speciality collections after 2002 will have additional requirements in order to qualify. After the 2002 show season a speciality collection containing insects from one Order will need to include family names. We will continue to accept speciality collections, which depict some phase of life history for an insect of group.
Opportunity and need: Mr. Terry Prouty, otherwise known as `Hornetboy' at email@example.com has a neat website on social wasps and their nests. Check it out. http://www.angelfire.com/ok3/vespids/intro.html
He is looking for a deceased swarm of Polistes annularis from an EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE nest. The common names for this species include "red wasp" and "large paper wasp". They are larger than most other species of paper wasps. These are the ones that usually build their large paper combs in bushes or trees. We often find their nests overhanging bodies of water or in areas near water. If you can help Mr. Prouty by collecting a mature P. annularis colony, please contact him at the above email address.
Featured insect group: Since we have a request about wasps, I thought it might be good to share some information about some of them. The following information was gleaned from Iowa and Mississippi publications.
Social wasps such as the hornets, yellowjackets and paper wasps live in colonies in a fashion similar to the honey bees and ants. Most of the wasps in a colony are workers; i.e., the nest queen's nonreproductive daughters that build the nest, gather food and care for the queen's offspring.
Hornets build the familiar large nests of a paper-like material made from chewed wood mixed with saliva. Nests contain many tiers of cells covered by the outer shell with a single opening at the bottom. Hornet nests are usually located in wooded areas, attached to a tree branch, but may be attached to shrubs, utility poles or house siding. Each nest has only a few hundred workers that are about an inch long and dark with white, light yellow or cream colored markings on the abdomen, thorax, and face. Hornets can be aroused to sting in great numbers, but only when the nest is disturbed or threatened.
Yellowjackets are honey bee size (about 2 to 3/4 inch long) and black with bright yellow markings. (Honey bees are golden or brown.) Yellowjackets build paper nests similar to hornets but either in the ground, a log or landscape timber or building wall or attic. Yellowjackets are commonly observed hovering back and forth at the small nest opening or around garbage cans and other areas where they forage for food. Nests may contain up to 5,000 workers, most of which never travel more than a few hundred yards from the nest while looking for food. Yellowjacket stings are quite painful, but the wasps are usually not aggressive except when disturbed at the nest.
Paper wasps build the familiar umbrella shaped nests found hanging by a short stalk on the undersides of building eaves. Only a single tier of cells is constructed and there is no external covering over the nest. Each colony normally contains fewer than 25 wasps, but late in the season, the number may swell to over 100. Paper wasps are slightly longer and more slender than yellowjackets, and color is variable among the many species.
A social wasp colony lasts only 1 year. Paper wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets build a new nest each year and do not reuse the previous year's nest. The only wasps to overwinter are the fertilized queens. All the workers from a colony die with the first frosts. Many of the adult wasps are predators of pest insects, which attack crops. Adults feed on nectar and juices, hunt for and attack caterpillars or spiders, which are then fed to larvae.
Keep on Buggin'
Michael R. Williams