21Oct2020 Entomology Meeting

I tried something new for this meeting, Nearpod, which is a way to present information and interactive activities virtually. Because I used a pre-made learning module (and adapted it), I don’t have a slideslow that I can share on here. I also can’t share the Nearpod module here because with a free account, your storage space is very limited and it won’t be there for more than another month or so. I did send a self-paced link to everyone so the members can finish the module on their own, but for posterity, our discussion points and additional resources will be listed here.

21Oct2020 Nearpod-Zoom meeting

  • The project leader completely forgot to ask everyone about their experiences on iNaturalist! We’ll come back to that next time.
  • We started moving through the Nearpod module together.
  • We met a housefly, who told us about species. We didn’t spend a lot of time on species, but we did talk about what makes a group of animals (or plants, or bacteria) a species. Dogs came up, and someone mentioned thinking that poodles are a different species from a Doberman. I asked, “Can a Doberman and a poodle have puppies together?”. Yes, they can! So,  even though Doberman and poodles look very different, they are indeed the same species of dog but different breeds. I mentioned that humans are the reason we have so many different breeds, we’ve used selective breeding over many generations to come up with all of the different breeds. Wolves and dogs are also the same species, but it gets complicated. This is off-topic from entomology, but if you are interested in more information about species and sub-species in regards to wolves, dogs, and coyotes, this is a great page:


There’s also a cool WolfQuest on that website! We’ll definitely delve more into species,genus, and family (with insects, of course) soon, the science of classification is fascinating.

  • We went off on a small tangent about how large insects get, and spent some time thinking about the largest insect we’ve ever seen in person or in videos. Some large insects include several cockroach species found in South America
  • We started with the grasslands in learning about habitats. We discussed where animals and insects could live in a grassland habitat, including the bark of the trees (insects that bore into the wood), the dirt/soil of the alfalfa field, and even a hawk flying in the air looking for prey.
  • Started with the grasslands in learning about habitats. We discussed where animals and insects could live in a grassland habitat, including the bark of the trees (insects that bore into the wood), the dirt/soil of the alfalfa field, and even a hawk flying in the air looking for prey.
  • Talked about host plants a little. Asked the members for an example, and butterflies and milkweeds came up.
  • Extra information (optional): Native California milkweeds are the host plant for the Monarch butterfly, and there’s an effort underway to restore milkweed populations to help the falling numbers of Monarch. One problem is that gardeners have been planting tropical milkweeds from local nurseries, which causes problems like disease and lower nutrition. The Xerces Society is the best place for more information: https://xerces.org/milkweed
  • Here’s a good article about Monarchs and milkweed: https://baynature.org/article/plant-milkweed-save-monarchs/
  • Leafhoppers are pests for farmers, and we talked about the three kinds of insects as they relate to humans: pest or detrimental to humans, neutral, and beneficial. Some members knew that mosquitoes are detrimental because they transmit malaria (and other diseases), and they also knew about bees and other pollinators being absolutely vital for our food prod- Ladybugs and aphids are interesting because it is actually the ladybug larvae that eats the most aphids, and did you know some ant species farm aphids? Here are some links:



This is about how ladybugs open their wings (so off-topic) but it is too cool to not share: https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/0000015c-31ef-dd1b-afff-3bef6e830000?source=searchvideo

  • Moved on to the Arctic habitat, or cold and snow. Leader asked the members for some ideas as to why the Arctic crane fly has no mouths, so they never eat, and only live a few days. We talked about the availability of food in such a harsh environment, and how short of a growing season, or a summer the Arctic (and other cold and snowy regions) must have. What is the one thing all organisms (or populations of organisms) MUST do in order to survive as a species? That’s right, they have to have babies, or reproduce to make sure there is a next generation of organisms. So, if the window of food is short, organisms who live in harsh environments have to cram the hatching/developing into an adult/mating/laying eggs into a very short period of time, right? We’ll learn more about species of insects that are similar to the crane fly next time (can’t find a trustworthy resource to share).

We didn’t end up finishing the Nearpod module, so the leader will be sharing a self-paced code and link so that everyone can read through the rest of the slides on their own before the next meeting. The Colloborate Board isn’t an activity, but a way to brainstorm together: see if you can post a few notes about why you think insects don’t get very large. Here are a link with pictures of the “largest insects in the world”:


And what Smithsonian magazine thinks are the most interesting insects in the world – do you agree with their list?