Professor Brian Cox explains how Monarch Butterflies navigate by “monitoring the position of the sun, and compensating for its location in the sky using their internal timekeeping mechanism… even when it’s cloudy.” This is an episode 5 preview of the BBC’s Wonders of Life. Full screen this.
Stuart Hind, Identification and Advisory Service Manager at the Natural History Museum in London, spends his days identifying the bugs that people bring in to the museum. Jars, match boxes, shoe boxes, and even jewelry boxes have transported creatures to his desk. Often Stuart doesn’t know what kind of insect or arachnid to expect until he peeks inside.
In this video, he introduces a Stag Beetle, a Long-horned Beetle and a Tube Web Spider. You can read more about all three of them at the Natural History Museum’s site.
Tommi Vainionpaa keeps Indian Walking Sticks (Carausius Morosus) as pets. They are about 10cm long each, perhaps as long as 15cm if you include their legs. He filmed them eating, climbing and trying to hide in plain sight as they stayed as still as possible… like sticks! Slow moving at times, but completely fascinating. From National Geographic:
As its name suggests, the stick insect resembles the twigs among which it lives, providing it with one of the most efficient natural camouflages on Earth. It and the equally inconspicuous leaf insect comprise the Phasmida order, of which there are approximately 3,000 species.
That’s worth repeating: 3000 kinds of stick and leaf insects!
Phasmids generally mimic their surroundings in color, normally green or brown, although some species are brilliantly colored and others conspicuously striped. Many stick insects have wings, some spectacularly beautiful, while others resemble little more than a stump. A number of species have spines and tubercles on their bodies.
Found predominantly in the tropics and subtropics—although several species live in temperate regions—stick insects thrive in forests and grasslands, where they feed on leaves. Mainly nocturnal creatures, they spend much of their day motionless, hidden under plants.
There’s a great three minute stick insect introduction with narration via Backyard Bugs. Definitely worth watching next!
And here are stick insects from the archives.
David Attenborough narrates ant life in the Australian mangroves — “various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics.” Such excellent footage, it’s yet another fascinating nature clip from the BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth. The kid should see this!