Archive for the ‘Defences’ category

Bug With A Face Mask

February 23rd, 2012

I love the variety of different Bugs in the UK .

This one is a particular favorite of mine.   Ever since I looked close up after taking the picture I then noticed patterns on it back that resembled a face mask….

Bug with mask

Bug with mask

I am unsure what the species is, but I think its great.

There are quite a few types of beetles and Bugs in the UK that have what looks like a human face on their backs (wing cases)

It may be to scare off predators or just a humorous coincidence….

Rhododendron Leaf Hopper

February 5th, 2012

I was staying over a family friends for a couple of days and as they have a rather big garden (the size of a small park!) I thought I would take the opportunity to explore and see what I could see.

After quite a bit of looking around I noticed something very bright on a leaf of a very big shrub….

on further inspection I was able to see quite a few of these over the bush.

Rhododendron Leaf Hopper

Rhododendron Leaf Hopper

While leaf hoppers do look very much like frog hoppers, the Rhododendron Leaf hopper was able to jump from a leaf and then after a short flight, fly back to the Rhododendron bush.  This all occured in a couple of seconds!

So from my limited observations of Leaf Hoppers, they seem to have much more control over their flight and are therefore able to do some very impressive in fly maneuvers.

Unlike there frog hopping cousins, who seem to leap in a forward direction and then land wherever they land.



While they readily jump if you do get to close.  When they stay still they are very well camouflaged.  You can see in the picture that they have the same colors as the leaves and the pink colored strips the same a the stems on the leaves.

Not so good for the gardener

Unfortunately for the gardener Rhododendron Leaf hoppers can do a fair amount of damage to the Rhododendron and its buds.

Hopefully your Rhododendron wont have to many leaf hoppers on it, so you wont have to resort to insecticides.  Which would be a shame as they are very attractive bugs.


Marbles On Oak Tree’s | Gall Wasp.

July 23rd, 2011

Gall WaspI remember seeing round marble size balls on oak tree’s as a child and liked to pick them, but didn’t really know what they were!

There was sometimes a little hole in the side….

It was the gall wasp all along

It was only in more recent years that I found out these were wasp galls.   What I find really interesting about these galls is how are they formed in the first place?

Its the sort of thing we just accept when we are young, but these galls dont just appear out of nowhere do they….

Now we know that pearls come from a oyster and they start to form within the oyster due to a little piece of sand or stone getting into the shell.

This causes an irritation to the animal and to stop itself from feeling it, it starts to cover it with a hard substance, over time these pearls grow and they are then collected by divers for their worth.

How does the Gall Wasp stimulate the tree to produce a gall

It got me thinking that maybe a similar technique is used by the gall wasp to produce the galls?

Does the gall wasp create a irritation that drives the Oak tree to put a protection around it?

Well I would expect that it has something to do with the female wasp laying the eggs within the flesh of the oak tree and this process sets off a chain of events that stimulates the tree to start creating a gall.


Bombardier Beetle. It’s All In The Name

June 23rd, 2011

Bombardier beetle defense

Now I haven’t actually seen one of these little beetles up close and it’s probably just aswell…

They have an amazing defense mechanism that is quite hard to believe, its almost alien!

This beetle has the ability to spay a liquid from their rear end.  Now you may say ‘what is so amazing about that?’ We all know that the skunk uses this same method to ward off predators.

What is different in this case is the liquid is 100°C,  the same as boiling water!

Its called the bombardier beetle, and these have unfortunately become quite rare in the UK.

So how can an animal withstand these temperatures inside its tiny body? Well the answer is, it doesn’t have to….

How does the bombardier beetle deal with this

The Bombardier beetle stores two different types of chemicals in it’s body within separate chambers, and then when it needs to defend itself, these chemicals are then quickly mixed together which causes a very fast chemical reaction.

At the precise moment, this toxic mixture is then released as a steaming jet at some unsuspecting creature.  Now this jet of liquid is usually enough to ward the attacker off and in the case of small animals like other insects, kill them altogether!

How did this defense mechanism for the bombardier beetle came into being?

It’s certainly beyond my ability to comprehend.  Your thoughts on this please.

Jumping Zebra On Vertical Walls : Zebra Spider.

June 9th, 2011

There is a common spider than is a particular favorited of mine.

Its called the Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus).  Is it a small spider and black and white in colour as its name suggests.

Zebra Spider

Zebra Spider

Now what I find amazing about this spider, is its ability to jump….

Making the zebra spider jump

If you harass the spider by putting a finger close to it, it will most probably jump out of the way.

Not only can it jump while on a flat surface, it can also jump while climbing a vertical wall and quite happily land on its eight feet further down the wall!

As small as this spider is, it is a hunting spider and therefore goes looking for it’s prey.  It has been known to catch prey much larger than itself.

I seem to remember one making a web (in a bottle top) but don’t quote me on that.  Normally you will encounter them climbing a wall or fence looking for something to jump onto and eat.

The Zebra Spider has Strong Legs

If you look at the legs of this the zebra spider, you don’t see anything that is different from any other spider. It certainly doesn’t have legs like a Grasshopper.

Now does the Zebra Spider do it?

So how does it manage to jump so well? It obviously has very powerful legs, but I will have to leave it to the scientists to explain how and where it stores up all this energy, that enables it to leap like a frog.