Mosquito Eater, Or Is It?

Mosquito Eater or Crane Fly
Okay so we usually call these guys “mosquito eaters”. It is actually a crane fly or scientific name: Tipula paludosa.

They look like giant mosquitoes and this one found its way into my son’s workshop. He sat very still while I took a few photos and then with the magic of cropping, it really shows what he looks like.

This is from Wikipedia:
Numerous other common names have been applied to the crane fly, many of them more or less regional, including, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters (or skeeter eaters), gallinippers, gollywhoppers, and jimmy spinners.”

I was visiting my dad last week and we had a conversation that went something like this:
“Dad, you know those bugs we call mosquito eaters?”
“Yep.”
“Well, I just learned that they are actually called crane flies.”
“What?”
“You know those big flying bugs we see in the house, they are really big flies and they don’t eat mosquitoes at all.”
“Mosquito eaters, they are mosquito eaters.”

Oh well, he can call them mosquito eaters. :)



More information from UC Davis’ website:
“Adult crane flies emerge from the soil beneath turfgrass, pastures and other grassy areas in late summer and fall. The adults have very long legs and resemble large mosquitoes. Females mate and lay eggs in grass within 24 hours of emerging. Eggs hatch into small, brown, wormlike larvae that have very tough skin and are commonly referred to as “leatherjackets”. The leatherjackets feed on the roots and crowns of clover and grass plants during the fall. They spend the winter as larvae in the soil; when the weather warms in spring, they resume feeding. During the day larvae mostly stay underground, but on damp, warm nights they come to the surface to feed on the above ground parts of many plants. When mature, the larvae are about 1 to 1-1/2 inch long. Around mid-May they enter a nonfeeding pupal stage and remain just below the soil surface. In late summer, pupae wriggle to the surface and the adults emerge. There is one generation a year.”

More Nature Study #4 Cover image

Katydid or Grasshopper?

This little critter has been hard for us to identify. We found him and put him in our magnifying jar so we could take a really good look at him. I have never paid much attention to the differences between katydids and grasshoppers but now after identifying this guy, I know so much more about it.

This is what is called a Chapparal Katydid.

From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 343:
“I love to hear thine earnest voice
Wherever thou are hid,
Thou testy little dogmatist,
Thou pretty katydid,
Thou mindest me of gentle folks,
Old gentle folks are they,
Thou say’st an undisputed thing
In such a solemn way.” -Holmes

From page 344:
“The katydids resemble the long-horned grasshoppers and the crickets. They live in trees, and the male sings “katy did” by means of a musical instrument similar to that of the cricket.”

There is lots more information about katydids in the Handbook of Nature Study on pages 343-344.

Here is a little graphic my son made on the computer showing complete metamorphosis. Katydids go through incomplete metamorphosis. (see page 298 of the Handbook of Nature Study)

Crickets+Grasshoppers+Katydid+Nature+Study+@handbookofnaturestudy.jpg

How to Use the Handbook of Nature Study

Here is what made me not use this book before:
1. Size-over 800 pages doesn’t transport well in my backpack

2. Black and white photos

3. I was trying to use it as a field guide.
4. I wanted to just start at the front and work my way to the back like a “regular” book.

5. I thought it would take too much time to use this book in our nature study because of the size and the sheer volume of information.

Here are some thoughts that I have now that I took the plunge and started using this wonderful book:
1. Read the pages at the beginning of the book that talk generally about nature study.

2. Pick a topic to focus on and read the introductory pages for that section only. We are focusing on insects this term but you can pick anything that seems appropriate for your family. You could change your focus each season if you wanted to. 3. Take the time after your nature walk to look up things that you saw on that nature walk. I turn to the table of contents and just scan down the list and see if I can find what I want to research. For instance you might have seen a honeybee and it is very easy to skim down and find honeybee and turn right to those few pages.
4. Read the small section (usually 1 or 2 pages) that pertain to that object or creature.
5. Write in the book……gasp. Yes, write in the book as you go along to highlight the little bits of information that you want to share with your children.

6. If you don’t have time after your nature walk to look something up and share it right then, research it in the Handbook before your next nature study session and then share it the next time.

7. Realize that nature study is a lifelong project, or at least I think it should be. You don’t need to cover every aspect of everything you find.

Anna Botsford Comstock suggests that nature study be only 10 minutes to half an hour in length. (page 6) I am finding this is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes outside with my boys each day….yes we are committing to 10-60 minutes outside per day. We all feel so much more refreshed and it has actually helped us be more focused when we are doing our indoor work.