Monthly Archives: May 2014

Insect Investigators

By: Kim Scotto

What’s buzzin’, nature lovers?

Here at Ashland Nature Center, we are as busy as bees preparing for our Investigating Insects program, this Wednesday, May 21st from 6:30-8:30 PM. And what better way to get excited about the fascinating world of insects than by sharing some of our favorite insect adaptations?

One cool adaptation that many insects have are false eyes. These are actually patterns on their wings or body that look just like the eyes of a larger animal! They help the insect scare off potential predators.

 

Yellow and green caterpillar with large black false eyes

My, what big eyes you have! This Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar looks a lot more intimidating than it really is! Can you find its real head? Photo by Joe Sebastiani

This Silk Moth has false eyes on its wing that makes it look like an owl! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

This Silk Moth has false eyes on its wing that make it look like an owl! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

 

Think insects’ fake eyes are cool? Imagine spending your entire life looking through a kaleidoscope. Insects have compound eyes, meaning that each eye has hundreds to thousands of different lenses! While their vision isn’t as sharp as an animal with simple eyes (like humans), they can see at different angles and can better sense movement!┬áDragonflies in particular can have up to 50,000 lenses per eye, giving them a tremendous range of vision.

 

See how the dragonfly's eyes wrap around its head? Their eyes help them hunt smaller insects while avoiding predators, like birds! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

See how the dragonfly’s eyes wrap around its head? Their eyes help them hunt smaller insects while avoiding predators, like birds! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

 

Some insects can fly, but others have to get around just with their (six) legs! Many insects have little barbs on their legs that help them get a good grip, allowing them to walk up walls, or even hang upside down!

 

Can you count the legs?

Check out the barbed legs on one of our Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches! Photo by Jeff Haas.

 

Want to discover more about the wild world of insects? Come join us Wednesday, May 21st from 6:30-8:30 PM here at Ashland Nature Center. Make your own insect craft, compete in the Insect Olympics, and eat an insect themed snack. End the evening with a guided walk to look for fireflies, moths, and to listen to the sounds of nocturnal insects! Pre-registration required.