Volume 4: no.1
21 February 1996
It's really hard to realize that February is almost gone and we are just now getting around to a new Gloworm. I suppose there is a case to be made for being too busy and that seems to be the way things have been going since last fall. Spring flowers are already thinking about blooming and we are seeing near 80 degree days, so it won't be long before some of the insects which come out early will also begin to fly. In the last week or so we have had some warm nights and are already seeing some moths and even a few beetles around lights. Some of these earlier creatures are only seen during this time of year, so it would be good to check them out and add to your collection any which might be new to you. This is also an ideal time to inventory and refurbish equipment. We'll review some of that kind of thing in the Gloworm this issue, but we'll also talk about some `buggy' things, as well. In the past some of you have submitted articles, asked for specific subjects to be addressed, and in general participated in what went into the newsletter. I'd like to make an appeal to you to do that in 1996. Let me know what you'd like discussed and we'll try to get it done. We are busy putting the plans together for the 1996 edition of the ENTOMOLOGY CAMP. The camp will be held at Paul B. Johnson State Park near Hattiesburg, MS on June 2-6. Individuals, aged 10 and above (adults are included), are invited to come camp with us and learn about the world of insects which surround us.
There are nearly 100,000 named species of insects in the U.S. alone so sometimes it's difficult to decide where to begin. Therefore, we will begin with a few interesting facts about insects and proceed to myriads of other things. The following are a few in the `did you know' category:
- Ants can carry up to 20 times their weight.
- A moth larva inside the bean is responsible for the movement of the Mexican Jumping Bean.
- Some insects detect the sonar produced by bats and use it to evade being eaten by them.
- Insects live in mountainous regions as high as 16,500 feet and as deep in caves as several thousand feet.
- A number of insects, mayflies for example, have no functional mouthparts and do not feed as adults.
- A housefly can beat its wings at more than 330 strokes per second.
- An insect's ears (if they have them) are usually located on the legs or the thorax.
- Some insects have taste buds on the pads of their feet.
- Bees can tell the difference between sugar and saccharin.
- Some insects have up to 5 hearts.
- Insects breathe through small holes in their abdomen called spiracles.
Insects play an important role in our lives. They serve as food for many birds and other creatures. Bees and other insects pollinate flowers enabling us to have seeds and new plants each year. Even termites, which eat fallen limbs and debris on the forest floor, and other seemingly destructive insects can be beneficial in the right place. The study of insects: ENTOMOLOGY - can be rewarding, fun and at times even profitable.
The following items are basic needs for making and maintaining an insect collection. Most of them can be bought through a biological supply house, like BioQuip, or they can be constructed fairly easily. (Almost every state extension service has detailed instructions for constructing insect collecting and maintenance equipment.)
The collector will need:
2) kill jar
3) spreading board
4) pinning block
5) relaxing jar
6) display box
7) insect identification book
8) insect pins.
We have discussed these items in numerous issues of the Gloworm and will do so again in coming issues. Part of the adventure of an insect collection is constructing the needed equipment. Nets are fairly easily made from clothes hangers, broom handles, a scrap of muslin and duct tape. Even some of the guys can sew a sack together, or they at least can sweet talk mom into doing it for them. Kill jars are constructed using sawdust, plaster of Paris and a wide mouthed fruit jar. That's always fun and at times messy, so do it outside! Most of the other items are also easily made or substituted for. Cigar boxes and Styrofoam make good combinations to temporarily hold insects prior to final placement in a box.
This is the fourth year of production of the Gloworm, and it has been a lot of fun for me. Along the way, for one reason or another I have added people's names to the mailing list. It has grown! So it was suggested that we request that you the reader decide whether you still wanted to receive it. I include the renewal coupon in most of the mailings at the beginning of the year. If you want to continue to receive the letter, please renew by sending the coupon back to me. Comments, suggestions, and anecdotes are always welcome. Send us the names and addresses of others who are interested as well, and we'll add them to the list. You can e-mail me by clicking here. If you want a copy of the Renewal form, click here.
MICHAEL R. WILLIAMS
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837/B>