Volume 4: no.3
17 April 1996
Wonder of wonders, you are receiving a second Gloworm in less than a month. It's probably more timely to do it at this than to wait until late in the month. Even though this has been one of the coolest springs since 1900, we are seeing some insects begin to move around. Gardeners have really complained about `seed corn maggot' this spring and there have been some other indications of different insects around. Check out your lights in the next week or two and you should see some nice freshly emerged specimens. The Monarch watchers are reporting numerous sightings of the butterfly as far north as Missouri and Tennessee. The local swallowtails have been flying in our area for a couple of weeks. Giant waterbugs are on the move, especially after rain showers, so watch for them under mercury vapor lights. Break out the black lights and see what comes, we should see some Luna and some of the other large moths, as well as a myriad of beetles and other types. We are now on the INTERNET World Wide Web, address: http://www.msstate.edu//entomology/entplp.html. If you are into INTERNET, visit the site and give us your comments. In this issue of I want to continue a thread we started a couple of issues back, that is sharing some facts about insects.
Some basic insect facts
Insects are animals whose body has three distinct parts - head, thorax and abdomen. HEAD: Prominently on most adult insects' head are the eyes, antennae and mouth. There are often both compound and simple eyes, called ocelli. The antennae are used as feelers and as chemical receptors (much like a nose). Other body parts may also be sensitive to taste and smell. The tarsi (on the feet) may have sensory hairs which enable an insect to identify potential food. The palpi, structures around the mouth, are also often equipped with sensory hairs for taste and smell. Insects are usually well equipped to detect odors at far distances. This can be easily tested by placing a food source outside on a warm day and timing the arrival of insects. With some modification and variation, all insects have either sucking or chewing mouthparts. For example a house fly's mouthparts are modified to sponge up liquefied food, a butterfly siphons nectar, and a grasshopper chews the leaves of grass. THORAX: There are a few wingless adult insects, but most have wings, one or two pair, and three pairs of jointed legs, all attached to the thorax. Most wings have thickened lines which run from the base to the tip. These veins give strength to the wings. The venation is always the same in a given species, thus becomes a way to identify insects. There are several types of wings: membranous - housefly, the wings look like clear cellophane; leathery - beetles and bugs, hard outer or fore wing; scaly - moths/butterflies, wings covered with scales; feathery - thrips, filigreed wings look like bird feather; parchment - grasshoppers, crickets, etc., toughened outer wings which look like heavy paper. The legs of adult insects are easily distinguished. Each one has 5 movable parts. Legs vary in design depending upon the type of movement needed. There are legs adapted to walking, running, jumping, swimming, digging, and grasping. Some immature insects have prolegs, fleshy appendages adapted for clinging to objects. Some immature insects do not have legs. The abdomen is the largest body division. On the sides of the abdomen are the spiracles, these are small openings on each abdominal body segment through which the insect breathes. Some insects also have long appendages at the end of the abdomen. These may serve as ovipositors which assist in egg laying or in mating.
Camp time is just around the corner and in order for us to plan well we need your application in as early as possible, so go on and make the plunge. The camp will include information for beginners and more advanced students of entomology. We will have a little more national flavor this year as we have registered campers from Texas, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey as well as from some wild places in Mississippi.
This is the fourth year of production of the Gloworm, and it has been a lot of fun for me. Along the way, for one reason or another I have added people's names to the mailing list. It has grown! So it was suggested that we request that you the reader decide whether you still wanted to receive it. If you want to continue to receive the letter, write to me and let me know!
MICHAEL R. WILLIAMS
Dr. Michael R. Williams
Entomology & Plant Pathology
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
phone - 601-325-2085
home - 601-323-5699
FAX - 601-325-8837