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Insects

Insects are part of a bigger animal group called arthropods. The word Arthropod literally means jointed limbs. The arthropods are the first animal group to have jointed legs. Insects have certain characteristics. They have six legs. They have three body parts, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. They have wings. They are by far the largest animal group. They also have an outer or exoskeleton made of a substance called chitin. There are over 950,000 species of insects. While they are relatively small in size compared to many animal groups, they are well adapted to their environments. Most live on land and all grow from eggs. They go through various stages until they reach adulthood. This transformation through these stages is called metamorphosis. Insects undergo either complete or incomplete metamorphosis. The dragonfly, termite, grasshopper and true bug undergo incomplete metamorphosis. In this process there are three stages called egg, nymph and adult. When the nymph hatches from the egg, it looks like the adult insect except it is smaller, has no wings and cannot reproduce yet. As the nymph grows it outgrows its outside skeleton and it is shed. It then regrows a new one. This happens several times before it finally becomes an adult. Insects like the butterfly, bee, ant, beetle and fly undergo complete metamorphosis. This involves four stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. The larvae looks like a worm and hatches from the egg. As it grows, it also sheds it skin. It then grows into a pupa. While the pupa doesn’t move around like the larva, it does eventually at this stage change from an immature form to adult form. There is another group within the arthropods called the arachnids. The arachnids are spiders, scorpions, etc. The annelids are similar to insects. However, they have eight legs. Their wings are quite different from those of the insects.

Cricket

Cricket

The Cricket can be found hiding under logs, grasses, and in crevices. They can also dig holes into the ground to create homes for themselves, or live in holes created by other animals. Males are territorial and will fight off other males, but allow any number of females to coexist in the same shelter. Male crickets produce several distinctive chirps and each chirp is made by rubbing the two outer wings together. Loud and steady chirps made throughout the night are to attract females and to warn off other males. Loud fast-frequency chirps are emitted when males encounter one another and are preparing to fight. They are intended to frighten off the rival male. A soft clipping sound is made when a female is known to be nearby. Its purpose is to encourage the female to mate. Fun Facts: In many parts of the world, the Cricket is thought to bring good luck. It is rumored that the Cricket can tell the outside temperature: Count the number of chirps they make in one minute, divide by 4 and then add the number 40 to reach the outside temperature. There are about 900 species of crickets worldwide.

Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket

 


Grasshopper


Grasshopper


Grasshopper

The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket can be found in most of Europe and as far eastwards as Japan, including all central Asia. It is a medium size (35mm) grasshopper with a pale green body covered with black spots and can be seen in dry locations: calcareous meadows, fallow lands, bushes and moorlands from July to October. It can be identified by its wings, which are much longer than the elytra (wing cases). The length of the antenna can reach four times the length of the body. The female’s abdomen ends with a sharply upturned ovipositor. The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket mainly feeds on plants and the female lay the eggs on the shrub’s leaves, particularly on Blackthorn. The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket can fly a relatively long distance when frightened. Although, not native to the British Isles, in 2006 a breeding colony was discovered during entomological survey work in Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve in East Sussex. This is the first confirmed breeding record of the species in Britain as adults and nymphs were recorded. Although it was also recorded in Cornwall over 100 years ago this may have been an occasional migrant but it seems that this continental species may be increasing its range.

 

Pink Grasshopper

Pink Grasshopper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This bright Pink Grasshopper is enough to make anyone jump” – and I didn’t find in the jungles of Borneo or Brazil but in Thomastown, County Kilkenny. When I first found ‘Mr. Pink’, I contacted the Irish Wildlife Trust straight away, thinking that my name would go down in the annals of Irish wildlife history but unfortunately for me, I was informed that it is not a rare species but it is a very unusual colour, which makes it a very rare, interesting and strange find. It’s colour, in terms of percentage in normal Meadow Grasshoppers is less than one percent. Most grasshopper species in Ireland are greenish-brown in colour, but some have genetics that can make them pink or purple-red. It is called erythrism, which is an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. The combination of red hair and freckles in humans is thought to be a form of erythrism, too. These grasshoppers tend not to make it to adulthood or survive for long in the wild as predators easily spot them, so it was a treat for me to see and photograph a grasshopper as beautiful as this one. I suppose if it was found in a field of pink flowers, this Pink Grasshopper would have a distinct advantage. PS: this photograph was voted the Irish National Winner in the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards and also graced the cover of the Irish Wildlife Magazine.

Damselfly

Common Blue-Tail Damselfly

The Dragonfly and Damselfly are insects, they are not flies. They can hover in mid air and eat other insects by catching them as they fly. There are 3 parts to their bodies: head, thorax and long thin abdomens. They have 3 pairs of jointed legs and 2 pairs of transparent wings. What are the differences between them? Dragonflies and damselflies are often mistaken for each other because they appear to be quite similar. However, when resting, damselflies hold their wings together above the body, while dragonflies hold their wings flat. The back wing of the dragonfly is broader near where it joins onto the body. Damselfly eyes are further apart than those of a dragonfly. Damselflies are usually smaller than dragonflies. Dragonflies can fly at 40 kilometers per hour whereas Damselflies fly more slowly.

Banded Demoiselle

Banded Demoiselle

These beautiful Demoiselles are the largest of our native damselflies. The males have a dark blue-green metallic body and dark blue coloured patches on their wings. It is a large damselfly with a total length of up to 48 mm (1.9 in) and a wing length of up to 36 mm (1.4 in). The female has translucent, pale green iridescent wings with a white patch near the tip and a metallic green body. She can lay up to 10 eggs per minute for 45 minutes (450). They lay in a wide variety of emergent or floating plants, sometimes even submerging to do so. Males are usually territorial, but large numbers can sometimes be found in lush bank-side plants and on floating objects. They are easily identified because they resemble butterflies with their gentle, fluttering flight. They court females by opening their wings and performing an aerial dance. You can usually find the Banded Demoiselle around slow moving areas of water and they are very sensitive to pollution so their presence is often an indicator of good water quality. They are on the wing throughout June and July and often into August and it is when they fly in the sunshine that you can see the stunning blue shimmer. The Banded Demoiselle is a Eurasian species and is present throughout Eurasia from the Atlantic coast to the northwest of China. They are also found throughout the UK and Ireland.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly (34 Photos Stacked)

 

 

 

 

 

A Dragonfly is a large insect and it is characterised by its large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings and an elongated body. Dragonflies possess six legs (like any other insect), but most of them cannot walk well. Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world. In general, large dragonflies like the hawkers have a maximum speed of 22–34 mph with average cruising speed of about 10 mph. Dragonflies are major predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and wasps and sometimes butterflies. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae are aquatic. About 5,900 different species of dragonflies are known in the world today.

Common Darter Dragonfly

Common Darter Dragonfly

The Common Darter Dragonfly can be seen on the wing all year round in southern Europe but in northern regions they occur from June to November. This small Dragonfly is seen in a wide variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, canals and slow-flowing rivers. They are ambush predators, waiting on a prominent perch – such as a leaf or the top of a gate, until prey fly past, whereupon they will fly after it. They are territorial on breeding waters, often attempting to chase much bigger Dragonflies away. This habit of repeatedly returning to a sunny spot allows you to easily predict where they are going to land, which is why it is one of the easiest dragonflies to photograph. In suitable hunting areas away from water, however, they are not territorial: large numbers may assemble – groups of several hundred in a single field have been recorded – and lines of insects can be seen along the top of field gates. Eggs are not laid, but broadcast from the air, the male Common Darter Dragonfly holds the female in tandem and swings her down and forward over water at a height of around 40 cm. At the furthest point of the arc the female releases some of her eggs to fall on the water.

 

Ladybird

Ladybird

 

 

 

 

 

The Ladybird (also known as the ladybug) is a small colourful beetle found all around the world. There are thought to be more than 5,000 different species of this insect in the world, with more than 450 species found in North America alone. It is best known for it’s spotted body (normally red and black, but often orange and yellow are found), and their ability to rid gardens of their aphid pests effectively. It is thought to be good luck to find that a ladybird has landed on you, and most definitely bad luck if you then squash it! They are small sized insects rarely growing to more than a centimeter in length. They have legs that are black in colour and their brightly coloured shell protects the wings of the ladybird that are concealed beneath the spots. They are known to hibernate once the warm summer weather begins to cool. They  will hibernate in large groups in sites that are used year after year, and ladybirds are thought to hibernate in this communal fashion in order to increase their chances of surviving the cold winter. It is thought that pheromones are released by hibernating ladybirds that attract other ladybirds to hibernate in the same place. They are fearsome predators within their environment and are known as gardener’s friends as they munch all of the tiny pests that eat the plants. They primarily eat aphids, greenfly, plant lice and other small insects. It is thought that the average ladybird eats more than 5,000 aphids in just one year. They are prey to a number of animals in their environment that include birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, rodents and other insects. It is thought that the bright colour of the ladybird is used to deter hungry predators as they think that the ladybird will taste disgusting or is poisonous.

Vine Weevil

Vine Weevil

 

 

 

 

 

The Vine Weevil is a beetle that attacks a wide range of plants, both indoors and outdoors, but especially plants grown in containers. It is one of the most common and devastating garden pests. The adult weevils eat plant leaves during spring and summer, but it is the grubs that cause the most damage over autumn and winter when they feed on plant roots, causing wilting, and often plant death. Plants growing in pots or other containers, outdoors or under cover, can be severely damaged by vine weevil grubs. Plants growing in the open ground are less susceptible.

Red Lily Beetle

Red Lilly Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Lily Beetle and its larvae are leaf-eating pests of lilies. The adult beetles occasionally eat other plants but lilies are the only plants on which they will lay eggs and the grubs can develop. Apart from spoiling the plants’ appearance, damaging attacks in early summer will result in undersized bulbs developing, which may not flower next year. The Red Lily Beetle overwinters as adult beetles that go down into the soil and leaf litter in the autumn. This could be anywhere, not necessarily in the vicinity of lilies. The beetles begin emerging on sunny days in late March and April when they seek out the foliage of host plants. Eggs are laid in small batches on the underside of leaves during April to mid-summer. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the foliage. When fully fed, the larvae go into the soil to pupate. The next generation of adult beetles emerges from mid-summer onwards.