Friday, June 10, 2011

Bug series, Part 1: You can lead a bug to water...

But s/he may not be a bug. We call most creepy crawlies and freaky flies 'bugs', but many are not true bugs. What's the difference, you ask? For the in-depth story, click here. Anne's short and sweet version is this: the difference is in the metamorphosis. True bugs don't go through the egg - larva - pupa - adult stages of metamorphosis;
true bugs go through what you might call false (or incomplete) metamorphosis, i.e., egg - nymph - adult.
Whether they are true bugs or just called bugs, these are some interesting critters. I'll show you both kinds in this series, and I'd like to thank Carol O and Carol T for the inspiration (and Angie, Fred, and Ned for the photos.)
First up, some water 'bugs' you can find in Sabino Creek.

Photo by Angie Perryman
The Giant Water Bug, commonly known as the 'toe biter', is a true and a truly ferocious bug. These critters hunt creatures larger than themselves (like your toes), pierce and inject digestive enzymes. Their bite is said to be VERY painful, so don't scoop up one of these guys for fun. You'll know them by their size. They are the biggest bug you'll see in or near the creek. The photo above shows a male carrying the eggs on his back. Yes, the males do this little reproductive service. The nymphs (hatchlings) often eat each other. First one out of the egg wins.

Photo by Fred Heath
Another 'bug' in the creek is the Whirligig Beetle. It's not a true bug. It undergoes complete metamorphosis, although the larvae are seldom seen. You'll recognize this critter by its whirligiggy swimming on the surface of the water. And what a great word is 'whirligig.'  

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