Windshield Entomology

Windshield Entomologyambience: HighwayHere’s a program from our archives.Getting ready for a long summer car trip? Well if the kids are tired of counting license plates, here’s another way they might pass the time: making use of one of the inevitable by-products of highway driving. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.You know those splats left behind by insects on your windshield? Well by taking a closer look at them, you can learn something about those creatures who have come to their last resting place on your car. Mark Hostetler is an urban ecologist at Arizona State University and the author of an unusual field guide called That Gunk on Your Car. Hostetler: How can you tell the difference between the different splats on your windshield; there’re lots of different insects that tend to leave [a] clear or yellow or orange type of splat. But actually, different types of insects do leave different colors and textures. To give you an example: butterflies and moths, because they feed on lots of nectar on flowers and stuff, tend to be yellow or orange and they tend to be very splayed up in a straight line because their wings carry the insect up your windshield, so it tends to be kind of a straight line, as opposed to, say, a cucumber beetle that has a very compact, hard carapace that hits and ricochets right off your windshield and it does not feed so much on the nectar as much as butterflies or moths so they tend to leave a small yellowish round smear that’s like a dot. But it’s not as bright yellow as butterflies or moths. But, yes, you can tell a little bit by color, but also by the size of the splat and also whether it’s in a straight line up your windshield or in a small, compact area.We’ll hear more about those insects on your windshield in future programs. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner. We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.

Windshield Entomology

Here's a new way to pass the time on a long car ride.
Air Date:07/13/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

Windshield Entomologyambience: HighwayHere's a program from our archives.Getting ready for a long summer car trip? Well if the kids are tired of counting license plates, here's another way they might pass the time: making use of one of the inevitable by-products of highway driving. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.You know those splats left behind by insects on your windshield? Well by taking a closer look at them, you can learn something about those creatures who have come to their last resting place on your car. Mark Hostetler is an urban ecologist at Arizona State University and the author of an unusual field guide called That Gunk on Your Car. Hostetler: How can you tell the difference between the different splats on your windshield; there're lots of different insects that tend to leave [a] clear or yellow or orange type of splat. But actually, different types of insects do leave different colors and textures. To give you an example: butterflies and moths, because they feed on lots of nectar on flowers and stuff, tend to be yellow or orange and they tend to be very splayed up in a straight line because their wings carry the insect up your windshield, so it tends to be kind of a straight line, as opposed to, say, a cucumber beetle that has a very compact, hard carapace that hits and ricochets right off your windshield and it does not feed so much on the nectar as much as butterflies or moths so they tend to leave a small yellowish round smear that's like a dot. But it's not as bright yellow as butterflies or moths. But, yes, you can tell a little bit by color, but also by the size of the splat and also whether it's in a straight line up your windshield or in a small, compact area.We'll hear more about those insects on your windshield in future programs. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.