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Bug Love, What is Involved
June 25, 2012

(A little bunny visiting the yard.)

Leave for three days, come back home, and a person needs a machete to get through the jungle he calls a yard.

It's not quite that drastic, but you may understand the changes that take place in a short period of time.

Gone for a couple of days, and the changes in some plants when you aren't there to see them everyday is truly amazing.

Some plants are a foot taller, some support blooms.

Tomatoes and cucumber vines seem to have exploded with new growth.

A timely rain and tropical heat will do that for some plants.

We had a wonderful time, and the weather was ideal.

I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked, as shopping out ruled sight seeing.

I really wanted to venture a bit further to see the damage of the recent forest fire, but time became an issue.

Still, I managed to have some time looking at waterfalls and the Big Boy Toys (Soo Locks), as Karen and Yolanda hit every tourist trap store they could find.

(Pictured is an 844 foot ship 'Great Lakes Trader' leaving Lake Superior, as it enters the locks and St. Mary's River, for Lake Huron and beyond.)

I never tire of seeing the Mackinac Bridge, a true marvel and engineering wonder.

The tea colored water is common in
many creeks and rivers of the north.

Cedar swamps drain into the streams and the tannin or tannic acid gives the water that certain color.

It also makes the water very soft.

One thing about short trips, is the work involved before you take off and the work ahead when you return.

No matter, I am looking forward for my next trip Up North.

It is where my spirit gets renewed.

Where the woods are bigger and wildlife is everywhere.

The waters seem bluer and for sure cleaner.

It is where my spirit soars, and I feel God romancing me.

Have you noticed, the songs of mating birds has pretty much subsided.

As July approaches, most birds species are winding down the reproduction mode.

I miss the early morning songs and the ones that go into the night.

One last thing.

Happy Birthday Canada this coming Sunday (July 1ST), and to all of our friends that are north of the border.

Last week I wrote a bit on perfume for insects, how flowers and pollinators are created to attract each other, even for specific species.

So, how do bugs find each other when it come time for ??

You know........

Bug love.

Again, last week you may have learned a bit on Fireflies and how light signals are used to attract mates.

So what about the thousands of other bug species out there?

I don't have tons of pictures of mating bugs to share, and time constraints don't allow for me to go bug hunting right now.

I think we all get the drift without pictures.


Love at First Sight:

Did you ever feel this way?

Wow, she catches the eye.

After one date, "I think I'm in love".

Some insects use visual cues like bright colors and patterns to find and attract mates.

These insects often have excellent eyesight.

Male dragonflies look for a female with the right color and pattern.

Once he has found her, he may also do a special “courtship dance” to attract her.

If the female likes the courtship dance, she will allow the male to mate with her.

Butterflies are near sighted, but often can spot others of the species (pheromones are important).

Male flies, often will wait for another to fly by and then check it out.

For the casual observer, it is difficult to know what insect is male of female.

For many entomologists, it is hard to discern as well.

Often, one must specialize in certain insects to understand the species and if it is male or female.

Dances and Foreplay:

Any woman is a sucker for a man that can dance.

Some male insects and spiders "waltz" their way to love, performing elaborate dances for their chosen mates.

Jumping spiders for example, are famous for these skills.

They can perform a linear dance, a zigzag dance, and even a sort of can-can with their forelegs.

Certain male flies perform aerial dances around a female to attract her attention and win the right to mate with her.

Few things in nature are more seductive than watching a pair of butterflies in a prenuptial dance.

Some female insects like to be cuddled and caressed to get in the mood.

This is especially true of the more primitive, wingless insects.

Springtails, for instance, will touch each other with their antennae.

Some dung beetles engage in a different kind of foreplay.

Together, the pair rolls a ball of dung to serve as a nursery for their offspring.

Love is in the Air:


Night-flying moths don’t have good eyesight and can’t use visual cues to find mates.

They use chemical cues, called pheromones to find each other.

The female emits a pheromone only males of her species can “smell.” The male moth will detect the pheromone at very low concentrations and may fly
several miles to find a receptive female.

Male moths have thousands of pheromone receptor neurons at the base of their antennae to help them do this.

Pheromones aren't simply for the night fliers, they are used for most insect species.

From butterflies to lady bugs, smell is the main attractant.

Back when in my younger days, I thought Japanese Beetle traps were the way to go to trap these pests.

What they did, was attract more than they trapped and made matters worse.

These traps use pheromones to attract both ale and females.

One time, while I was peeling and opening the pest strip to attach to the yellow plastic thing, I was almost instantly covered with Japanese beetles.

Before I could ever get the pheromone strip attached or the trap and bag placed, I was surrounded by excited beetles.

it is known, that certain insects can smell another from more than a mile away.

Trickery and Deceit :

Males of some insect groups even use deceit and trickery to ensure their paternity.

For example, male damselflies remove sperm from previously mated females to make sure their genes are passed to the next generation.

In this case, it is best to be last on the love train.

Noisy Boys:

Males of some insect species make sound to attract their mates.

Males with the most vigorous sound will attract the healthiest females and more offspring.

Pay attention to the sounds of late summer, you may be able to hear the mating sounds of these insects:

Crickets: The chirping of crickets is an annoyance to some, but a welcome sound to others.

Crickets produce sound by rubbing their wings together (not their legs), a sound-producing method called stridulation.

There is a thick, ridged vein at the base of the forewing which acts as a file.

The upper surface of the forewing is hardened, like a scraper.

When the male cricket calls for a mate, he lift his wings and pulls the file of one wing across the scraper of the other.

The thin, papery portions of the wings vibrate and amplify the sound.

This is similar to running your fingernail across a plastic comb.

Male crickets actually produce several different calls for different purposes.

The calling song helps the female find the male.

Once she is close to him, the male switches to a courtship song to convince her to mate with him.

Scientists have also discovered crickets produce an aggressive sound to discourage nearby males and a post-copulatory sound.

It has been noticed, male crickets chirp faster at higher temperatures.

The rule of thumb is if you add 40 to the number of chirps produced by the snowing tree cricket in 14 seconds, you will get the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.

Mole crickets, which are ground dwellers, actually construct special entrance tunnels shaped like megaphones, from which they amplify their calls.

Some insects simply tap on a hard surface to produce their love calls.

The Death-Watch beetle, for example, bangs his noggin against the roof of his tunnel to attract a mate.

These beetles feed on old wood, and the sound of his head tapping resonates through the wood.

Katydids also make mating sounds in mid to late summer.

This too is produced by rubbing wings and not legs.

Cicadas: The annual or “dog-day” cicada appears mid- to late summer (we always called them heat bugs when i was a young boy).

These robust, familiar insects have green to brown bodies with black markings and a whitish bloom on their bodies and have clear wings.

They look very much like a regular housefly on some serious steroids.

Male cicadas cluster high in trees and produce a high-pitched whine using two special vibrating membranes, called timbals, found on the underside of the first abdominal segment.

The sound is amplified in the male cicada’s body.

Choruses of male cicadas can be deafening.

Sounds of individual cicadas have been measured to be more than 100 decibels.

Both male and female cicadas have hearing organs for hearing.

They receive sound via a pair of large, mirror-like membranes, called tympana which are connected to an auditory organ by a short tendon.

Courtship songs differ from calling songs, which are broadcast from a distance to help females find the males.

Fruit flies have no calling song, but do sing when a mate is in close range.

The fruit fly male vibrates his wings in a pulsing, rhythmic pattern. His song lets the female know he is of the same species, and available to mate.

Mosquitoes sing harmonic duets with each other, adjusting the frequencies of their songs simultaneously as they near the moment of copulation.

And to think, there are people that specialize, who study and research such things.

Then there is this.

The lean and mean.

The strongest, most buff.

The fastest, hottest male around.

There is often intense competition among males for available females.

The competition may be for prime egg-laying sites, to eliminate other males or simply to impress females.

In some species, males have developed hugely exaggerated features to improve their competitive

Male stag beetles have evolved huge jaws (mandibles) they use to wrestle their rivals and eliminate their competition.

Dinner and a Date.

Some male insects provide an edible offering to the female.

Male scorpion flies and Mormon crickets are known to offer an edible “gift” to the female.

A female Preying Mantis and Black Widow spider often eats the male after mating.

Guys, this a case of no greater love hath any man.

In this case, the female feasts to insure a good protein source for her eggs.

Well, it is time to fly.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

God's alternative to revenge is not truce or standoff or cold war or isolationism.

It's forgiveness.

author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Paul has this to say in the book of Ephesians.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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