Insect Appreciation

Jeff Babson

Pam Boedeker

If you see your neighbor out in her yard at night shining lights into her trees and bushes don’t be alarmed. She is a member of the SaddleBrooke Nature Club newly enthused about the insects living in her yard! She must have attended the humorous and informative presentation about insects by Jeff Babson.

His purpose was not to teach how to kill insects but how to appreciate them. Southern Arizona is a hotbed of insect diversity. Jeff has spent many years studying, photographing and appreciating our insects.

Biologists have divided insects into 30 plus orders. They can be more simply identified as one of the following: butterflies and moths, beetles, sawflies, wasps and ants.

This is an ever-increasing number as new insects are being discovered at an astounding rate! Insects outnumber us (mammals) by as much as three to one. Accordingly, we actually live in their world!

Two of the insects that can be found near water are the dragonfly and damselfly. The dragonfly can be differentiated from a damselfly by looking at its wings. When at rest the dragonfly holds its wings flat and away from its body. The damselfly folds its wings along its body. Two Arizona dragonflies are the flame skimmer which is orange and the roseate which is pink.

The giant mesquite bug which is over an inch long can be found on both mesquite and acacia trees. The female has a knob on her antennae. As with other insects the antennae act as a nose.

In southern Arizona the most common cicada is the apache. They live underground but surface annually in June. Jeff called their annoying mechanical drone sound The Symphony of the Desert.

We live in the bee capital of the world! While we are most familiar with honey bees which live in groups, most other bees are solitary.

Diadasia pollinate prickly pear and other cacti.

Megachile Melanophaea known as leaf cutter will leave semi-circle shaped bites in leaves.

The carpenter bee chews through wood and makes it into food for its infants.

Bees are essential to pollinate our food crops. If you look at the produce department at the grocery only corn and mushrooms are not dependent on bees for pollination.

The tarantula hawk has one of the most painful stings of all insects.

It paralyzes tarantulas and other spiders and buries them where it lays its eggs.

A gathering of harvester ants is to be avoided! They can bite and sting at the same time!

You can tell a butterfly from a moth by examining their antennae. The butterfly’s antennae are club shaped with a long shaft and bulb at the end. The moth’s antennae are feathery.

There are over 100,000 species of flies and over 300,000 species of beetles.

This is a fraction of the information Jeff presented! To learn more on these beautiful summer nights, join your neighbor, get out your black light and discover the beauty of insects!