Seasonal Backyard Science – Insects
Ambience: walking in the snow, tearing off bark
There is a hidden world of nature, waiting to be discovered in our own backyards or nearby parks – even in the dead of winter. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Mitchell: In front of us is a tree. Our way is blocked by a fallen limb, quite a big limb really, and I’m just tearing off the – the bark here.
Naturalist John Hanson Mitchell is the author of a Field Guide to Your Own Backyard.
Mitchell: We’re looking at this bark, and I’m just going to tear off some of this (tearing off bark) and see what we see underneath, and – we see what looks like fuzz, just old torn up bits of fuzz. That is the handiwork, I believe of boring insects. You can see one, two, three, look like pinholes in the hardwood beneath the bark, and I think those are borings of these little beetles that live beneath the bark. And that is what is these birds, the nuthatches and the woodpeckers, are digging for when you see them hunting along the bark of the tree.
Mitchell: There’s a tree here, a maple tree, and there’s a – around the bottom of the maple tree there are all these little dots, it looks like the scattering of black pepper. These are insects. These are called springtails, and they’re tiny little things, look like bits of pepper, and if you watch carefully, as the day warms, when the sun strikes them, you’ll see them – if you look very closely, you’ll see them hop. They have an appendage on their tails, and they just click that, click it forward and that’s what causes them to jump up into the air.
Our thanks to John Hansen Mitchell. We hear more on season backyard science in future programs. Please visit us on the web at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.