As described by Edward O. Wilson — perhaps the best known American biologist, researcher, naturalist and author — invertebrates are "The Little Things That Run the World." And indeed they do, in so many ways. In terms of numbers — while most invertebrates are pretty small, the sheer number of them is astounding. Together, they have more biomass than any other animal on earth. Learn more about the fascinating creatures that run the world, with Bug Bytes from the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium.
Bug Bytes: Burying Beetles And Mites
Burying beetles are often called sexton beetles since they perform duties similar to a sexton or gravedigger. These beetles have an amazing ability to locate fresh carrion from long distances, allowing them to find this valuable food source before competing scavengers do. But rather than consume the departed mouse, vole, shrew or other small vertebrate for themselves, they have other plans.
Bug Bytes: Giant Ichneumon Wasps
Learning to identify different wasp species can be challenging, but it’s not brain surgery. Well…actually, in this case it just might be. We’re talking about giant ichneumon wasps – a genus of only four species in North America. Females range from 3-4 inches in length, including what appears to be a long, massive stinger. While intimidating looking, they’re harmless. This stinger is actually an ovipositor, used for laying eggs.
Bug Bytes: How Fireflies Glow
If you’re lucky, it might be an annual occurrence in your backyard. For others, it may be a memory from a summer vacation. And for all the romantics out there, it’s the icing on the cake to a picture-perfect summer evening. We’re talking about fireflies. Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are famous for their glowing, flashing rear ends. But the questions are how and why do they have a glimmering derriere?
Bug Bytes: Voodoo Wasp
The more you learn about the insect world, you realize that the act of parasitism – where one species lives off of and feeds upon another species – is surprisingly common. This is especially true among wasps. And while the act of parasitism may seem a bit gory, the details can be incredibly fascinating. In the case of a wasp commonly called the Voodoo wasp, it takes parasitism to an entirely new level by also controlling its victim’s behavior.
Bug Bytes: Tarantula hawk - Pepsis wasp
The deserts of the southwestern United States are home to some remarkable animals. One kind of creepy crawly often associated with this region is the tarantula. With several species growing to the size of an adult human’s hand, they are certainly impressive. But what’s even more impressive is an aerial predator called the tarantula hawk. While images of a feathered predator with talons might pop to mind, tarantula hawks are actually wasps.
Bug Bytes: The Story Of Pepe
It was a cold, snowy New Year’s Day in western Montana. What better way to kick off a new year of meals than making a pot of chili? After purchasing the onions and variety of peppers going into our meal, we began the preparation process. But cutting into what appeared to be an unblemished green pepper, we surprisingly found a little friend staring back at us.