Lorraine Julien | Oct 29, 2015

It’s almost Halloween and the following creepy creatures seemed appropriate for this scary time of the year:

15 43 outdoors mole cricketThe Northern Mole Cricket:

Photo by Betsy Betros, bugguide.net, used by permission

As the name suggests, this insect’s actions are much like a mole as it spends most of its life underground and near water. Its stocky front legs are designed for digging - the legs look more like garden trowels than the usual cricket legs. Although the Northern Mole Cricket does stay underground for the most part, it can sometimes be found near light posts or house lights at night because it does have the ability to fly. The front wings are very short and they make chirping noises, much like other crickets. Even though the name suggests this bug lives in the north, it is only found occasionally in southern Ontario, as it prefers warmer climates. It is an invasive species that was inadvertently introduced to the southern U.S. around the year 1900 and has now spread over much of eastern North America. It can do a lot of damage to plants and crops as it feeds primarily on the roots of plants and crops. Perhaps with global warming, we will see more of this creepy cousin of the field cricket.

15 43 outdoors bold jumper spiderThe Bold Jumper Spider

Photo: Bold Jumper Spider by Kaldari.

The Bold Jumper Spider is almost cute when compared to the Mole Cricket. It has eight legs, eight eyes, hair on its body and legs and is quite small. It doesn’t move around like most other spiders. As the name suggests, it jumps – a lot. The head can swivel around, and with all those eyes, you don’t stand a chance of catching one. I know, I’ve tried, as they sometimes get in the house. They’re easy to spot as they must like the light and usually go to windowsills.

The Harvestman is the proper name for the bug we call “Daddy Long Legs”. Harvestmen are not spiders as their bodies are constructed quite differently from spiders. The main thing that sets them apart is the fact that the head and body are not separated. They are also unable to make silk and spin webs. Harvestmen can be quite predatory, at least with prey no bigger than themselves. They do a lot of good in the garden, though, as they eat all kinds of decaying material, including dead bugs. I still think Daddy Long Legs is a much more appropriate name for this eight legged insect on stilts.

15 43 outdoors bird poop weevilThe Bird Poop Weevil:

Photo: Bird Dropping Weevil - Cryptorhynchus lapathi, DeadInsects.Net, used by permission

This weevil is a strange looking beetle. The head of a weevil is constructed quite differently as the jaws are at the end of a long snout, called a rostrum, and they are operated by long, tendon-like rods that attach to muscles in the main part of the head. Weevils use the rostrum both for feeding and as a drill with which they prepare a hole before laying their eggs. This weevil gets its name from its survival trick of looking like a small bit of dried-up, black and white bird poop – all birds recognize this and none of them want to eat poop. There are other examples of this bird-poop mimicry, for example, moths, which hide by day in plain sight, looking like bird poop on a leaf or a twig. Even beige-coloured clusters of Gypsy Moth eggs could be mistaken for a glob of bird poop on the side of a tree trunk!

Happy Trick or Treating to all the little Ghosts and Goblins!



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