Sunday, September 7, 2008

Larvae, Larvae, Having a Party!

At lunch today, we noticed that the wet seed (from the recent monsoons) was coming out of the openings of the bird feeder and was piling up on the tray. Curious about this, B went to investigate. He easily found the source: weevils!


Some mama beetle has come and laid her eggs in the birdseed and they have hatched---big time!

I caught some of them as they were pushed out of the holes by the other weevils.


I now have a jar with several of them and their seed food. This is the larval stage. We shall see if they will make their pupae as we observe them at school.

Apparently from what I read, there are about 8 moths and 40 beetles that infest birdseed and other grains. Because I can see the snout on these big guys, I have ruled out moths.



At the same time, I noticed a large planter box needed to have a small amount of  rainwater removed. Instead of pouring it out on the ground, I poured it all into a jar. Sure enough, there were mosquito larvae of varying sizes. In the picture below, you can see one on its way up for air. It is just right of center: a small diagonal line in the water. They have little snorkels that they use to breathe from the surface but they feed on the bottom. So they go up and down the water column making for interesting observation. We will keep the lid on the jar because the larvae will be pupating and then hatching into full adult mosquitoes in no time at all. I saw there are some that have already become pupae.


Later, we stopped by a field where we have seen passion vine growing. This time of year, we knew we could most likely find some orange caterpillars eating the leaves. We were rewarded. I picked some of the vine and put it in water at home. There were two large, almost mature caterpillars, 2 very small ones and 1 teeny one. I think there were also unhatched eggs: I will look carefully tomorrow with my students.


I have an aquarium with a screen top that I will put this all into. When the caterpillars (also larvae) get ready to make their chrysalises, they have a tendency to wander, so the enclosure, keeps them where we can see them make their next stage. Every year in my classroom, we have  some kind of caterpillar that we raise to be a butterfly. These will be  lovely Gulf Fritillaries. Below are pictures I took last year.



It is going to be a very exciting day in kindergarten, come Monday.

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