Connected on 2015-04-14 12:45:00 from Douglas County, Nebraska, United States
- Bugscope Team setting up
- Teacher We are just returning from recess, thanks
- Bugscope Team hi!
- Bugscope Team we are all set to go
- Bugscope Team Trap-Jaw ants! Yay :)
- Bugscope Team this is cool
- Bugscope Team Mrs Pickett please be sure to let us know when you need anything, and we are here to answer questions.
- Teacher Thank you, can you please let us know which animal we are observing
- Bugscope Team this is a trapjaw ant, which happens to be Josh's specialty
- Teacher Thank you, Scot, can you or Josh tell us please if the trapjaw ants ever fight each other? What would make them do this?
- Bugscope Team looking up
- Bugscope Team Its too bad you guys have to see the trap-jaw ant dead. Theyre quite spectacular to observe when theyre alive.
- Teacher Why is it called trap jaw?
Bugscope Team Trap-jaw ants have a specialized prey capture mechanism in which they are able to lock their mandibles open in a 180 degree gape and store energy in them until prey come intocontact with long intermandibular trigger hairs, which causes the ant to release her mandibles at pretty astounding speeds. hence the name trap-jaw, they basically have miniature bear traps attached to the front of their faces :)
Bugscope Team Since she is dead she has her mandibles closed at the moment. Scott, is there a way I can post pictures on here? I have a nice stacked image of a trap-jaw with her mandibles locked open
- Teacher The students are pretty impressed with her!
- Bugscope Team Josh the only way to post images is if they have a url...
- Teacher Can you describe what they eat?
Bugscope Team This lineage of trap-jaw ant belongs to the genus Odontomachus. Specifically I think she is Odontomachus chelifer. Anyways Odontomachus species tend to be generalists, although some preferentially forage for termite workers. I know that O. chelifer will forage for many different types of insects but do prefer termites.
- Bugscope Team the background the insects are sitting on is carbon tape (the stuff that looks bubbly) and there is also some small amounts of silver paint underneath them to help them stay down
- Teacher Josh, thank you so much for the picture!
- Teacher Another question is, do they bite humans?
Bugscope Team They sting humans and can also bite, I believe. At least this species.
Bugscope Team yes, they will bite and sting if you disturb them. I'm currently doing an experiment that requires me to label ant larvae with paint and when I was returning the larvae to their nest one of the workers of this species both bit and stung me. Its not that bad, a little worse than a papercut for about a minute
- Bugscope Team 'Odonto-' means 'tooth,' or 'tooth-related,' and 'machus' means 'thrower.'
- Teacher What is the maximum length they can gro to?
Bugscope Team this is the largest described species of Odontomachus. they get to be about an inch long I think. Im bad with estimating measurements :/
- Teacher Where are these ants found?
Bugscope Team Odontomachus are found throughout the tropics and subtropics around the world. we have five species in North america, most restricted to florida. This particular ant was collected in Brazil
- Teacher Nathan would like to know, are the ants venomous?
Bugscope Team yes they are venomous
- Teacher I have an email, it is PickettB@ctkomaha.org if that helps :)
Bugscope Team sweet, Ill send you the pic :)
- Bugscope Team I sent the pic, let me know if you get it :)
- Bugscope Team these are the jaws, closed tightly
- Teacher I did thank you so much!
Bugscope Team Yay :) happy to share
- Bugscope Team Here we can see the three apical teeth located at the tip of the mandible. Trap-jaw ants tend to have relatively few teeth that are restricted to the tips of their mandibles. This helps them concentrate the force of their strikes at these points, increasing the preasure they exert on their prey
Bugscope Team technically, they are not really teeth
Bugscope Team Not in the sense that you think of people or dogs having teeth. I think thats still the technical term we use for them though.
- Bugscope Team this is a female mosquito
- Teacher Which part?
Bugscope Team This is the head
Bugscope Team this is the head of a female mosquito
Bugscope Team We can see the eyes ( the bumpy structures on either side) as well as the bases of the antennae (in the center between the eyes)
- Teacher Why do they eat blood?
Bugscope Team Female mosquitoes do eat blood. They use it to provide nutrients to develop their ovaries and lay eggs. They can also feed on nectar when they are not trying to lay eggs. Males, since they do not lay eggs, feed exclusively on nectar and do not bite
- Teacher Is it a compound eye?
Bugscope Team Yes! Each is composed of many individual facets called ommatidia.
- Bugscope Team the two rounded things in about the middle of where we are looking now are called pedicels
Bugscope Team Pedicels are the basal segment of the antennae
Bugscope Team so the antennae come out of the centers of the pedicels
- Teacher What it the life span of the average mosquito?
Bugscope Team I'm not entirely sure, but I believe that, depending on the species, they spend about a week or two as larvae, and then maybe three weeks to a month as adults (assuming they don't get swatted first and meet an untimely demise ;)). The males probably have a shorter life span, although they are less likely to get killed by people since they do not take blood meals so the actualized life span may be higher in males
- Bugscope Team we can tell male mosquitoes from female mosquitoes, usually, because the antennae of the males are fancy, kind of frilly, and those of the females are simple, not fancy at all
Bugscope Team The males use their frilly antennae to detect females by sensing the frequency of vibrating female mosquito wings using a sensory organ at the base of the antennae called Johnston's organ.
- Bugscope Team butterflies, moths, silverfish, and mosquitoes, along with very few other insects, have scales
- Teacher What is the structure in the very center of the screen, bottom? It has scales or layers.
Bugscope Team that is either one of the palps or it is the distal portion (the part closest to the body) of the proboscis
Bugscope Team and those are indeed scales\
Bugscope Team You can tell a mosquito from other similar flies such as midges by the presence of scales. Mosquitoes are the only flies that have them
- Bugscope Team scales often confer color to their bearer, as we see with butterflies and moths; but scales also protect the insect that has them from getting caught in spiderwebs
- Teacher Thanks so much!
- Teacher How many eggs does a female lay?
Bugscope Team Not sure :/ It probably varies between species. I know many of the medically important groups of mosquitoes lay eggs groups that form floating rafts on the water, but not how many eggs on average
Bugscope Team one reference says about 50 to 200 per egg-laying, in this case per day
Bugscope Team and between 1000 and 3000 in a female's lifetime
- Teacher What is the overall size of this insect?
Bugscope Team probably less than half an inch. maybe a fourth of an inch? bleh I suck at estimating sizes :( blood feeding mosquitoes cant get too big though or they will be easier to feel when they land on you.
Bugscope Team they definitely vary in size. in Florida there are larger mosquitoes that specialize in feeding on reptiles like snakes
- Bugscope Team a few millimeters-ish
Bugscope Team yeah I would say 8 or 9 millimeters to 1.5 or so centimeters
- Teacher May we click on one of the pictures on the left of the screen?
Bugscope Team go ahead and click the blue left arrow and select another area to go to
- Bugscope Team this is a sugar crystal; we added it to the stub to show that it does not form cubic crystals
- Teacher Very interesting to see the structure
- Bugscope Team sugar cubes are thus formed from a lot of non-cubic crystals, perhaps like this
- Bugscope Team this is totally cool
- Bugscope Team these are sodium chloride crystals -- table salt -- from a Wendy's restaurant a few years ago
- Bugscope Team we like them because they form cubic crystals, as we would expect, but they have what look like incisions in the crystals
- Bugscope Team we think that the incised portions of the crystals are due to the addition of an anti-caking ingredient, perhaps
- Bugscope Team Wendy's, presently, and at least in our area, does not have this kind of salt anymore.
- Teacher That was one of the questions that was asked, and you answered it, thank you!
- Bugscope Team salt for use in food usually has iodine added to it, but I believe the iodine does not affect the crystal structure
- Teacher What are the little hairs on the antennae?
Bugscope Team those mostly look like mechanosensory setae/hairs
Bugscope Team sense of touch
- Bugscope Team insects do not have skin, like we do
- Bugscope Team instead of skin they have a thin shell, called cuticle, kind of like if we were wearing armor
- Teacher Thank you very much for talking with us today. We have to dismiss early for a guest speaker coming to our school. Thank you for working with us!
- Bugscope Team if you were wearing armor, you would not be able to feel things touching its surface
- Bugscope Team so insects have tiny setae that help them sense their environment
- Bugscope Team thank you for joining us today
- Bugscope Team Thank you, Mrs. Pickett
- Bugscope Team see you next year!