What cool bugs can you find in your backyard?

Monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies
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 Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail
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/Damselflies

Dragonflies/Damselflies
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

Grasshoppers
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 plants.

Crickets

Crickets
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.

Praying Mantids

Praying Mantids
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

Walkingsticks
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
Beetles

Beetles
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 of insects.

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.

Cicadas

Cicadas
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

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 homes.

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