Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Insect Activity

Insects are so numerous and varied that it can seem daunting to even begin to get to grips with them. Yet, there are some fascinating insects right under our University noses and their activity is hotting up with the recent warmer weather. For example, walk any of the paths around and over the rough grasslands to the east of the Science Site and Mountjoy at the moment and these two insects should be easy to find and recognise.

The first is the Scorpion fly. An impressive insect, about a couple of centimetres long, it gets its name because the abdomen of the male curls up at the end rather like a scorpion's tail. Worry not, the upturned end isn't a sting at all but the male reproductive organ. The female’s abdomen is more or less straight by comparison. The second example is a soldier beetle. Beetles are easy to recognise from other types of insect in that most have a pair of hard wing covers that meet in a straight line down the centre of the back.

The photograph below shows how the black wing covers open to reveal the folded up wings which the beetle expands for flight.

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