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Bugs in the City

NOTE: The Smithsonian is crowdsourcing! Read all the way (or skip) to the bottom to learn how to become an online volunteer for the Smithsonian Museum’s bumblebee records project!

One thing that is extremely noticeable about our new location is the increase in the number of bugs inside the house. In South Minneapolis we had the occasional ant attack, and once some demon flies infested the apartment after I downloaded a desktop wallpaper, but here it seems that there are more and greater varieties of insect home invaders than we experienced in the city. It makes sense; our new house is in a more wooded area, and we now have a direct entry to the house rather than an apartment lobby entry. But what can you do? Once we got over our initial revulsion it just became a fact of life. Bought a fly swatter and it’s all good now. The cat is ecstatic to be able to put her long-dormant hunting skills back into play.

And really, I appreciate insects way too much to be grossed out for long. Also, it’s perhaps in part because of the greater number of insects that I’m also finding a greater number of spiders in the house. I like spiders. The Hubby rolls his eyes because I coddle them. I can often be heard encouraging a wayward spider to crawl behind the bookcase before the cat finds it. I’ve interrupted conversations to catch a spider and release it outside.

I am not, however, a huge fan of stinging insects, which makes these little nests in the eaves of the garage and in a tree on our lawn a little disconcerting – but still frickin’ amazing to look at. From a distance. Through a 200mm lens.

A honeycomb nest with white bulbs in some of the holes and wasps walking all around on it.

How cool! Look at all of ‘em go! *shudders*

A bee or wasp nest, papery looking with a nickel-sized hole in the side.

I could be much more appreciative of this gorgeous bee (or wasp?) nest if it wasn’t approximately two feet above my head and two feet away from the sidewalk that I walk on to get to and from my car every day.

I found this guy chilling on my screen door when I came home this evening:

Grasshopper hanging upside down from a screen door frame

But I’m not the only person in my area who is having fun with creepy crawlies.

My friend, Courtney, captured this yellow garden spider in her apartment (and released it outside upon learning that it wasn’t venomous). Apparently they make a cool zigzag shape in the middle of their webs called a stabilimentum for reasons not wholly agreed upon by entomologists.

Close up of a Yellow garden spider

And Jodi has had two neat bug sightings in Minneapolis. Last week she photographed a cicada:

A small gray winged bug resting on a shiny green leaf.

And today she posted this video of a disgusting/awesome grub:

Suggestions for what this might be include a baby sandworm from Beetlejuice, a parasitic alien, a larval Goa’uld, and a buried anteater or tiny elephant. Cattle grub has also been suggested.

On another bug news front: As I may have mentioned once or a bazillion times, my sister, Erin, has a job at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I know. So jelly. Her newest project is participating in the digitization of the museum’s approximately 45,000 bumblebees. And they need our help! The Smithsonian Museum is crowdsourcing online volunteers to help transcribe original labels into digital records. Repeat: The Smithsonian Museum wants us all to participate in a science project which will live in our national archives forever evar and possibly be used by scientists to help shed light on the reduction of pollinators.

If you want to find out more about becoming an online transcription volunteer for the Smithsonian, their website will walk you through the simple hows and whys of the process. Go go science crowdsourcing! And insects! And spiders!

Comments

    • Trebuchet says

      Based on what I learned after reading Dana’s blog today, I’d say the first nest is paper wasps (open cells) but the second may be bald-faced hornets, or some other variety. Still, two hymenoptera nest posts on FTB in one day! What are the odds of that!

      Nice grasshopper, too.

  1. ericblair says

    I have a simple rule. I do not willingly share my living space with any creature whose natural complement of legs is less than two or more than four. My two cats are rather efficient at catching the various more-than-fours that manage to get in, and for that, they get extra cuddles.

    What is the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist? An entomologist studies bugs. An etymologist is someone who knows the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist

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