Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winter Insects

I was wishing that I was wearing my snowshoes.  The walking was difficult because the snow was boot deep with a crust on top that only occasionally supported my weight.  Imagine my delight when I spotted a winter crane fly winging its way through the woods.  I momentarily forgot my toilsome trek as I chased this winter anomaly for some photos.

Winter crane fly.
 There are few insects flying around here these days, the rest are frozen, holed up and "toughing it"  or are spending the winter as eggs, larvae, or pupae.  This crane fly must be a "tough bug" even though it is missing a couple of legs.  I am glad that this time of year I can still encounter interesting insects like the winter crane fly or the caterpillar I found the other day.

  Insect cold adaption is interesting enough , but I can't help pointing out something else on the insect pictured above.  Do you see the two stalks with balls on the ends right under the wings?  (wish I would have taken a better picture of them)  Those are called "halteres".  They function as direction or turning indicators like a gyroscope.  In the book, Life on a Little Known Planet, Harold Ensign Evans mentions halteres and many other interesting details of the insect realm.
  The snow didn't keep me from finding more winter insects so come back soon.  In the mean time,
 here is a link for more on the winter crane fly.

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