Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Creative Bugs



On the weekend, the Wookie and I took a little stroll along the Sackville River and stopped to look for caddis fly larvae. I found three beauties, at least I thought they were, and took some underwater green stuff growing in a pond connected to the river. We took them home and put them in my aquarium which I had prepared beforehand with beads on the bottom. I ended up adding some aquarium gravel as well, as the poor things couldn't get a grip on the bottom of the aquarium or on the beads to propel themselves forward.

After watching the little guys for a while and doing some interweeb research, I thought maybe I had diving beetle larvae instead of caddisflies. The pump in my aquarium also went kaput so I had to pick up a new one yesterday. And after thinking I had diving beetle larvae, figured I better get them something to eat. So I bought some feeder fish, making many apologies to the fish. But last night after putting the fish in with the larvae I really think now that I have caddisfly larvae. Which means that the fish will live and not be eaten.

There are two small and one very large mean-looking caddisfly. They brought their homes with them when they arrived, which means the hollowed out twigs they drag around with them for protection. It's quite amusing to watch these things. On their rear ends they have two pincer like legs to hang onto their home and they pull themselves along with the front legs. Depending on the species they eat plants and other animals. The ones I have appear to be quite content with the plants in the aquarium, perhaps eating decaying material and microscopic animals living on the plants.

My first task is to remove the "twig" homes to see if these little fellas spin silk or glue and use the beads to construct a home. If they are of a species that doen't spin glue then I'll have to go find other ones....I'll keep you up to date on this little experiment. And for a look at what these things can make given the right material take a look at this website:

8 comments:

LISA EMRICH said...

What will you do with their creations when they're done?

Shauna said...

If they make it past this stage, they will make themselves a cocoon of sorts for the final stage to adulthood. Once they do that I'll put 'em back in the pond.....

S.

Nervus Rex said...

This is so so cool, Shauna. My kids are fascinated by your experiment (as is the big kid here :).

What I want to know is how the heck do you get their original "home" off of their backs?

I know it'll be a few days till you get back in the groove. Best recovery wishes!
Shawna

Shauna said...

Shawna,
Glad you and the kids are enjoying the experiment. Perhaps when the snow melts out your way, say by August, you can find a pond and some of these things for the kids to watch.

To get the larvae out of their homes? I send 'em an eviction notice. Actually, the larger one's twig is disintegrating as I type this so I guess it's been condemned and will fall apart on him anyway. The other two, I'll take the tweezers to their twigs and stuff myself in a shallow dish of water.

I've been watching the feeder fish (guppies) this morning and they're acting a little differently. I'm not as familiar with their breeding behaviours as other animals but I suspect that's what they're doing. Protein for the caddis flies in the form of fish eggs.

S.

Shauna said...

Lisa,
I misread your comment and thought you were asking what I'd do with the larvae. But I see now that you want to know what I'll do with the cases they hopefully make.

I will put them with my collection of other weird and wonderful things that includes birds' nests, wasp nests, and even a 2 foot piece of whale baleen I tore from the jaw of a beached whale a few years ago. I may put them in a shadow box to mount on the wall with my bug collections.

S.

Diane J Standiford said...

My heavens! My brother did these types of things to bugs and such when he was a boy. Your research brought back that memory. It seems more interesting now. So many species we know so little about.

Shauna said...

Diane,
You're right; so many species to discover. I want to learn about them all.

S.

Shauna said...

Shawna,
Let me rephrase that to say, "In a shallow dish I will take tweezers to their twigs and stuff". Not "stuff myself in a shallow dish"

S.