Flight of the Ants

This ‘one minute bugs’ post is a video about a nuptial flight of ants. Ants perform these ‘nuptial’ or ‘reproductive’ flights so that new colonies can be started. Winged males and females fly up into the air where they meet, mate, and then the females look for suitable nesting sites. The females then become queens of their new colony.

I filmed this material last week, and there have been other ant flights since then. There was even one today. But I reckon that’s got to be the last one for the season because tomorrow a severe cold front hits the area. Just in time, ants!

I hope you enjoy the video – as usual it’s short and sweet! Let me know what you think. Please hit the subscribe button in the widget if you would like to receive email alerts about new posts.

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Night of the Moths

Nerd alert! In my latest video I get rather excited about the arrival of the ‘rain moths’ (Trictena atripalpis). The first rains of autumn usually brings them out and this year it was spectacular!

These moths are quite harmless, but may vary in size from relatively modest to rather huge (depending on how much food they consumed while larvae). Just listen to the sound a large one makes as it crashes into my microphone!

I hope you enjoy the video – as usual it’s short and sweet! Let me know what you think.

If you want to learn more about these moths, you can read one of my earlier posts by clicking here.

Please hit the subscribe button in the widget if you would like to receive email alerts about new posts.

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What have insects ever done for us?

I know my title is a lazy reference to a scene from the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian, but I think it is appropriate given all the recent talk about the decline of insects around the world. Does it matter if all the insects disappear?

Many (most?) people only notice insects when those insects are affecting them directly and in a negative way, e.g. stinging them, biting them, annoying them with buzzing, or chewing on one of their beloved plants (like the Grapevine moth Phalaenoides glycinae larva below).

Phalaenoides glycinae

The vast majority of insects are not pests, nor are they what we might call beneficial insects (i.e. beneficial to us humans). Most insects are just out there doing their thing, being a part of their particular ecosystem, being part of the web of life. Insects play extremely significant roles in pretty much every terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. In fact insects are the biological foundation for terrestrial ecosystems.

Imagine a world without insects and you are imagining a world without many of our pollinators, and therefore many flowering plants. You are also imagining a world without many (most?) insectivorous fish, birds, bats and other small mammals. Then imagine the knock-on effect of losing those animals – for example, what fed on those particular fish or birds? On and on it goes.

Onthophagus

A world without insects also means a world without most of the creatures which help break down and bury wood, carcasses and dung (dung beetles like the one pictured above are dung-burying specialists). If we lose the insects we also lose some important soil aerators and fertilizers – for example, in the arid parts of Australia termites and ants replace earthworms.

Maybe we shouldn’t be asking – what have insects ever done for us? Maybe we should just accept that insects are vitally important to the terrestrial ecosystems of this Earth. Maybe we should be asking – what have we ever done for insects?

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