Goliath beetles are at the top of their game.
- Goliath beetles are five species of large beetles native to Africa’s tropical habitats.
- The scientific name of the Goliath beetle is Goliathus and it is from the family Scarabaeidae, the family of scarabs.
- With an adult length generally ranging from 5 to 11 centimetres (2 to 4.3 inches) and a larvae weight reaching 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 ounces), the Goliath beetle is one of the largest extant insects.
- The diet of the larvae of Goliath beetles consists primarily of decaying wood and vegetation, while the diet of the adults consists of fruit and sap from trees.
- Goliath beetles can be a black, brown, yellow or white colour, and they generally feature black coloured patterns.
- During the dry season, Goliath beetle larvae will pupate to become an adult, and they emerge in the wet season as beetles.
- Male Goliath beetles boast a horn that is shaped as a ‘y’, a feature absent in females who instead have a head that tapers to a thin edge.
- Goliath beetles tend to be inactive during cooler temperatures and become mobile on both foot and in flight when temperatures become warmer.
- Some people keep Goliath beetles as pets, and when captive, the beetles will commonly consume cat or dog food, which is effective in providing the large quantity of protein that the beetles require for breeding purposes.
- To fly, an adult Goliath beetle can extend its wings from the side of its body, rather than lift the wing shield-flaps up as most beetles do.
Devil’s flower mantises are dressed up all day, every day.
- The devil’s flower mantis is a species of large praying mantis, found among wildflowers of eastern Africa.
- The scientific name of the devil’s flower mantis is Idolomantis diabolica, the sole species of its genus, and it is from the family Empusidae, a family of mantises.
- Devil’s flower mantises grow to be roughly 10 to 13 centimetres (4 to 5 inches) in length, with the females generally larger than the males; and they are among the largest of all praying mantises.
- ‘Devil’s flower mantises’ are also known as ‘giant devil’s flower mantises’; and they have a lifespan of around one year.
- Adult devil’s flower mantises are mostly green coloured on their top side, while underneath, they are coloured green, white, red, black and purple, though some of these colours are not visible unless threatened.
- While an adult can assume the appearance of a flower, a young devil’s flower mantis is brown and appears to be a dead leaf, causing it to be camouflaged in its surroundings.
- If threatened, a devil’s flower mantis will rear up its body and front legs, resulting in its hidden flaps to flare out and display vibrant colours, causing it to look somewhat like a flower; and the mantis often waves about, to frighten the predator.
- Devil’s flower mantises have a diet consisting of flying insects like butterflies, flies, beetles, and moths, and the prey is snatched from mid air by the mantis if the insects come too close.
- Female devil’s flower mantises produce a number of foam-like capsules of eggs, out of which between 10 and 50 nymphs hatch after approximately 50 days.
- Devil’s flower mantises are popularly sought after as exotic pets; however they do not thrive in captivity and are quite expensive.
Humans can ice-skate, but common pond skaters can water-skate.
- Common pond skaters are insects native to Europe’s rivers and smaller water bodies, and they are known for their ability to stand on and skate across water, due to their light weight.
- ‘Common pond skaters’ are also known as ‘common water striders’, and they are brown to black in colour.
- The scientific name of the common pond skater is Gerris lacustris and it is from the family Gerridae, the family of pond skaters.
- Common pond skaters range from 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in length, and females are typically larger than males.
- Each pair of a common pond skater’s six legs have a different purpose; the first pair are used to catch prey, the second pair are used like oars to propel the insect across water, and the third pair are used to steer.
- Common pond skaters can jump off the surface of the water and land a distance of up to 10 cm from where they were initially positioned; while mature adults develop wings and are able to fly.
- The front legs of common pond skaters can sense the minimal vibrations of prey that accidentally fall into the water, such as flying insects and larvae that they consume.
- Common pond skaters are covered in minuscule, waxy hairs that keep them waterproof by trapping air bubbles, which is vital if the pond skater is to remain buoyant.
- The eggs of common pond skaters will typically hatch some 12 to 14 days after being laid, though this is reliant on the water temperature, and sometime after hatching, the larvae go through a process of metamorphosis.
- Common pond skaters are most commonly seen during the warmer months, and they hibernate on land throughout the winter season.
Cruiser butterflies sport a variety of different colours.
- Cruiser butterflies are a species of butterfly native to the tropics of New Guinea and surrounding islands, and parts of Queensland in Australia.
- The scientific name of a cruiser butterfly is Vindula arsinoe and it is from the family Nymphalidae, the family of brush-footed butterflies.
- The wings of a male cruiser butterfly are mostly an orange colour, decorated with black patterns including a couple of eye spots.
- Cruiser butterflies have a wingspan that generally ranges from 7.5 to 8.2 centimetres (3 to 3.2 inches) in length.
- A female cruiser butterfly has a combination of yellow/orange, brown, black and white coloured wings, and despite its difference in appearance to the male, it has similar black markings.
- Cruiser butterfly caterpillars are black and yellow to white in colour, and they have black branch like spikes down the back and sides of their body.
- The chrysalis of a cruiser butterfly reaches a length of 3 centimetres (1.2 inches), and is coloured brown to green, while the caterpillar itself is a centimetre (0.4 inches) longer.
- Cruiser butterfly larvae feed primarily from the species of the passion flower family, while the butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers.
- Cruiser butterflies have a habit of congregating around collections of moist to wet soil, where they obtain nutrients from the liquid they consume there, and this phenomenon is known as ‘mud-puddling’.
- The eggs of a female cruiser butterfly varies from a white to brown colour, with many small bumps on the exterior, and they are about 1.5 millimetres (0.06 inches) in height.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That’s insect repellent for you.
- Insect repellents are a compound that is put onto a surface, typically the skin, to deter insects from the surface and the immediate surrounding area.
- ‘Insect repellent’ is also known as ‘bug spray’, and the best repellents ward off insects like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, flies, and mites.
- Both natural and synthetic ingredient versions of insect repellents are available; however synthetic versions, in general, produce better results; and while ultrasonic technology has been experimented with as a form of repellent, studies have proven it to have a lack of effectiveness.
- Typically, insect repellents are available as an aerosol spray; roll-on liquid; a cream; or a gel, although some repellents are in the form of an object, like candles; wrist bands; mosquito coils; and clothing or nets typically treated with permethrin.
- Various communities have utilised natural insect repellents since ancient times, typically obtained from vegetation or other insects, or by burning a natural chemical or plant material.
- Synthetic exploration of insect repellents began in the 1920s, and it wasn’t until 1944 when a particularly effective repellent was discovered, known as DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide also known as ‘diethyltoluamide’), first used by United States military in World War II; and it has been the main active ingredient in most repellents sold since the 1950s, due to its ability to deter most disease-ridden biting insects; its notable safety record; and its long-lasting effects.
- How insect repellents exactly repel insects is uncertain, although it is hypothesised that the repellents masks certain human molecules that are detected by and attract insects.
- While a product like DEET, in rare circumstances can cause undesirable reactions, it is considered fairly safe, especially in the adult population, however, insect repellent can be hazardous, especially if used for extended periods in high doses, and it may cause adverse effects to the human body, especially in very young children and potentially in unborn babies.
- Insect repellents can provide protection from three to twelve hours, with shorter lengths typically attributed to lower active ingredient concentrations, while longer times usually result from higher concentrations of the active ingredient.
- Substantially more effective insect repellents than the commonly used DEET are presently in testing processes, while the relatively new picaridin (also known as ‘icaridin’) has become a rival on the market; while lemon eucalyptus oil has been discovered to have an effectiveness similar to DEET, unlike the once commonly used citronella oil which needs reapplying every half hour or so to remain effective.
Katz T, Miller J & Hebert A, Insect repellents: Historical perspectives and new developments, 2008, Journel of the American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622%2807%2901467-3/pdf
You’ll thank your lucky stars when you don’t aggravate an Asian giant hornet.
- Asian giant hornets are the largest extant species of hornet, and are native to the East Asian tropics.
- ‘Asian giant hornets’ are also known as ‘yak-killer hornets’ and ‘giant sparrow bees’.
- The scientific name of Asian giant hornets is Vespa mandarinia and it is from the family Vespidae, a family of wasps.
- The diet of Asian giant hornets consists primarily of beetles, as well as large insects including honey bees, as well as tree sap, honey and soft fruit, however, the adults are only able to consume liquid, though they chew solid food and feed it to their larvae.
- Asian giant hornets reach 3.5 to 5.5 centimetres (1.4 to 2.2 inches) in length and have a wingspan of 3.5 to 7.6 centimetres (1.4 to 3 inches); and they can devastate a hive of bees in six hours or less.
- Asian giant hornets have a yellow to orange coloured head with a black to brown thorax, and a striped yellow/orange and black abdomen.
- It is common for Asian giant hornets to live and nest underground, often under large tree roots abandoned by a past animal, however the hornets can dig if need be.
- Asian giant hornets have a 6 millimetre long stinger (0.24 inch) that can painfully inject toxins that are potentially fatal if stung in succession, and they are said to cause the deaths of 60 to 100 people across Japan and China each year, with symptoms that include cardiac arrest, organ failure and anaphylaxis.
- Asian giant hornets communicate primarily through the expulsion and trailing of scented chemicals known as ‘pheromones’, even uniquely marking food sources including hives with such a scent.
- Asian giant hornets have a life span of three months up to one year, depending on their gender and role in the hive; and the queen will initially lay as many as 40 eggs, however as the year progresses, she will usually lay many thousands.