Monarch butterflies are the Texas state insect. These butterflies
are orange and black. Their larvae are yellow, black and white
striped. The larvae, or caterpillars, feed on milkweed. Milkweed
has a toxin in it that makes the adult butterfly poisonous to
birds that eat them.
Monarchs are migratory and will fly from north to south in the
autumn and then from south to north during the spring. They can
be seen overwintering in trees in California and Mexico.
Tiger swallowtails are a type of butterfly. Swallowtails usually
have a tail at the end of each hindwing. These butterflies are
yellow and black with some red and blue spots on their wings.
Dragonflies and damselflies are in the order Odonata. Dragonflies
hold their wings out when they are at rest, while damselflies
hold their wings up over their back. Odonates are wonderful to
have in your backyard since they are predaceous and will feed
on other insects. They actually capture their prey, what they
eat, while flying. They have large eyes to view the prey with
and also their head can turn almost all the way around.
Grasshoppers are very common and come in a variety of colors.
They can be green, yellow, black, red or orange. They have large
hind legs for jumping. Grasshoppers can create sound by rubbing
their hind leg against their front wing. Grasshoppers feed on
Crickets are closely related to grasshoppers. Crickets can make
noise by rubbing their front wings together. Male crickets chirp
to attract a female cricket to mate. There are different types
of crickets you may find-they can be black, brown or whitish.
Mantids are large insects that, in Texas, are usually green in
color. They also can be brown, white or even pink! There are some
mantids that mimic flowers to help them capture prey. Mantids
have large raptorial front legs, which they use to capture and
hold prey. Mantids feed upon insects, but larger species sometimes
eat lizards or even hummingbirds.
Walkingsticks have a name that gives away their body shape-they
look like a stick. These insects use their bodies to blend into
the plant they sit on to avoid being eaten by birds or other predators.
Walkingsticks feed on leave of trees and shrubs. Species found
in the United States range from 2-7 inches in length. There are
species in the tropics that can reach 1 foot in length!
Beetles are in the order Coleoptera. This is the largest order
of insects with over 80,000 known species. Beetles have hardened
front wings called elytra. This hardened wing helps to protect
the hindwings, which are soft and membranous. The hindwings are
what the beetle uses to fly.
Ladybugs are a type of beetle. Usually ladybugs are red with black
spots, but they can also be orange with black spots or black with
red spots. Ladybugs sometimes don't have any spots at all! These
beetles are good to have in your yard. They will eat aphids, an
insect that sucks juices out of plants. Ladybugs are actually
sold for people to place in their gardens as a natural control
Scarab beetles were actually worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.
These beetles will locate a pile of dung and create a ball out
of it. They will roll the dung ball to a nest they created and
lay an egg on it. When the egg hatches, the larvae that emerges
will eat the dung ball. Egyptians saw this as a symbol of rebirth
and so worshipped the dung beetle.
In the autumn, you can usually hear the chirping of cicadas in
the trees. These are fairly large insects, up to two inches in
length. You can usually find cicada cast skins on trees. These
are brown cases that have an opening along the back from where
the adult cicada crawled out. Cicadas suck juices out of trees.
Orb Weaver Spiders
These are the gardens that are typically found in backyards. Some
of these spiders can get fairly large. Orb weavers spin a web
out of silk that has a ladder shape down the center. Spiders feed
on insects and other arthropods. They will consume pest insects
around your home, so they are good to keep around. Many people
actually believe that it is good luck to have spiders in their
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