City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

October 3, 2016

October 3rd

Filed under: American Dagger Moth, picnic site 7, Tomentose Burying Beetle — canopus56 @ 10:31 pm

Bright Bugs

7:00 p.m. Back on September 30th at picnic site 7, a black beetle with two bright orange bands across its middle rests on a table. It is a Tomentose Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus tomentosus). The Burying Beetle is so named because it drags and buries its kills under a pile of leaf litter and then lays its eggs on the corpse. With the bright orange bands on its back, it advertises and does not hide from its predators.

Then on September 28th, another brightly colored insect crossed the road at mile 0.5 – a bright yellow caterpillar with long black spikes coming out of its back. It was an American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana). Its host plants, on whose leaves it grazes, are the same trees found abundantly at mile 0.5 – the Maple and the Box Elder.

These insects, who do not hide, advertise their presence to their predators. Presumably, they are poisonous or foul-tasting to other insects or birds, and thus, they have no need for the praying mantis’s camouflage. But how does the Burying Beetle ambush its prey, given that it carries an orange flag on its back?

 

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