14 March 1994
Volume 2: no. 3
It seems that we need to come up with some rainy day games, for lately it has been very difficult to get outside to enjoy the coming of spring and although we will probably have some more cold weather, even frost, SPRING is coming! It's a little early for butterflies, but I have already seen some moths and grasshoppers, and the crane flies are moving about again. Look for these delicate legged insects around lights on warm nights. When you catch one be careful for the legs will come off easily. I spray captured specimens with hair spray to help keep their legs. A quick drying spray adhesive (non sticky) might also work. Crane flies belong to the Order Diptera, Family Tipulidae. They are most often seen in damp localities, especially where there is rank vegetation. They are generally weak fliers. These delicate insects are often called mosquito hawks but most adult crane flies feed on nectar of flowers. Most of the larvae are either aquatic or semi-aquatic, living in mud or sand at water margins, and are scavengers feeding on decaying materials. Some are predators and some even feed on plant tissues. There is one group known as the snow-flies which crawl about in the snow. Now is a good time to begin checking those areas where there are bright lights at night, i.e. the tennis courts, a night time baseball game or other such areas. Get those collections down and begin to rework them, check to see which specimens must be replaced be sure and look at the crane flies closely.
Plans are coming together for the Entomology Camp, June 5 - 10, and excitement is rising. Our instructors are planning some unique and educational activities for the camp. Dr. Larry Corpus will begin the week demonstrating some neat ways to construct equipment and will share ideas for collecting, preserving, identifying and displaying insects. He is also an aquatic insect enthusiast, so campers might be able to augment that phase of their entomological knowledge. Dr. Jerry Baker will share insight on those "unwanted arthropods" - ticks, centipedes, millipedes and even rollipolies. Dr. Richard Brown is planning some blacklight collecting for night time activities. We'll probably have a tall tale teller or two to share some stories during those sessions. He is an expert on Lepidoptera, so campers will have opportunity to learn about butterflies and moths from him. Dr. Clarence Collison is planning a bee workshop for those who are interested. There will also be plenty of time for other fun activities like hiking, swimming, skating, softball, volleyball, etc. We are hoping to provide some Continuing Education credit to teachers and certainly want to encourage adults to come to the camp. There is some out-of-state interest and those of you from outside Mississippi are also welcome to come to camp. Camp space is limited and it is first come first serve....so fill out the enclosed form!
More Insect Projects: The Black Swallowtail butterfly uses dill as its preferred larval host. Plant an area of the garden with dill and as the spring progresses make regular observations to see if the green, black and yellow larvae appear on the dill plants. The BST is migratory and will probably appear in the dill sometime in May. If you desire to observe the BST closer, a planting of dill should also be made in coffee cans or flower pots. After the larvae appear on the dill in the garden a few can be transferred to the dill in the cans/pots. These containers should be placed inside a cage to prevent the larvae from crawling off. As the larvae grow, the dill in the cage may become depleted, so they must be fed more dill. Additional pots of growing dill may be used for this purpose or cut plants in water can be added to the cage. Each larvae will change into a chrysalis in 3 to 4 weeks. Most will attach themselves to the side of the cage. After all of the larvae pupate, the dill can be removed. A small tray of moist sand should be added to the cage. This tray should have a small amount of water added daily to keep the humidity up. The adult butterflies should begin emerging in about 2 weeks. Not all adults will emerge, some chrysalis will stay inactive until the following spring before the adult butterflies emerge. After the adults emerge, they should be released out of doors or mounted and prepared for specimen collections. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN THE REARING CAGE, they will ruin their wings and die after a day or two. This information was obtained from the Oklahoma 4-H Entomology School Science Program booklet no. 182 `The Black Swallowtail Butterfly' edited by Don Arnold, Oklahoma CES.
Riker Mounts - Occasionally specimens of butterflies or moths are so outstanding that we would like to display them separately. One method to do this is to construct a riker mount. A shallow cardboard box may be used, but a more permanent deep picture frame or shallow shadow box is more permanent. The top of the box should have either acetate or glass so the insect can be observed. Place cotton (from a roll) in the bottom of the box and then place the unpinned, spread specimen on the cotton. It is a good idea to add a moth ball to the box underneath the cotton. Fit the lid over the specimen and seal the box. Shadow boxes without the cotton may also be used to display insects. These are usually mounted along with dried flowers or twigs.
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837