Insects

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HONEY BEE

Biology: Honeybees are social bees, with colonies composed of a single Queen and many hundreds of workers. New colonies are begun when additional Queens are produced in a colony and all but one leave, each newly fertilized Queen taking a consort of workers with her. Males (drones) are produced only for mating with these new queens, and the males then die. Only the females can sting, but all workers are females and all of the working members of the hive can sting. Honeybees can sting humans only once, losing their stinger in the process. Larvae are fed pollen and honey, and the honey is created by continual mastication and dehydration of the nectar and other sugary fluids the workers gather. Honeybee hives remain active year-round, and often will be located within structures. Queens may live as long as 5 years while workers live less than 2 months in the active summer months.

Identification: The workers are about a half inch long and are various shades of brown and black colors, with very dark head, legs, and antennae. They are densely covered with short, pale hairs. The antennae are bent at their middle, or “elbowed”. The mouth is an elongate tongue formed by several parts, and enables the bees to reach into fairly deep flowers to take up the nectar there. The bees have 2 pairs of wings, separating them from some similar flies that mimic the bee’s appearance.

YELLOW JACKET

Biology: Yellowjackets are social wasps, with a Queen that initiated the colony and female workers that build the nest, care for the young, forage for food, and defend the colony. Colonies typically begin each spring and die off each fall in cooler climates, but may survive over the winter in warmer climates. The population of the colony easily grows to many thousands of workers by the end of the summer, at which time males are produced, mating with new queens takes place, and these fertilized queens then over-winter in protected locations. Adults feed on sweet liquids such as honeydew, nectar, fruit juices, or human foods such as sodas. They also relish a sugary material exuded by the larvae. The larvae are fed meat, and natural sources are insect larvae or bits of flesh from dead animals. As scavengers the workers also gather human foods at outdoor eating areas. The workers are all able to sting repeatedly, and very aggressively defend their colony from perceived intruders. Nests are placed either in aerial locations, including trees, shrubs, wall voids, or attics, as well as in the ground, where workers enlarge holes they find to accommodate the growing colony. The nest is created from cellulose gathered from tree bark, dried plant materials, or other sources, mixed with saliva, and formed as the hexagonal cells for the larvae.

Identification: Yellowjackets are very similar to the other social paper wasps called Umbrella Wasps, but differ by having no narrow waist between their thorax and abdomen. Colors are yellow and black, and specific identification of each species is done with differences in the patterns of the black patches around the eyes and head as well as on the abdomen. Yellowjackets, as wasps, have 2 pairs of wings that are dissimilar in size and shape. This separates them from many species of flies that mimic wasps, where there is only 1 pair of wings.

SCORPION

Biology: True scorpions are characterized by the presence of an elongated “tail-like” appendage off the abdomen, tipped by a sharp stinger. They are arachnids, and have four pairs of legs, a pair of enlarged palps that are modified as claws, and the head and abdomen are combined as a cephalothorax. All true scorpions are predators that feed on other animals, using their stinger to subdue the prey or as a defensive weapon. The venom of most species is considered of little health consequence to humans. Scorpions may live up to 5 years or longer as adults, and the nymph stages usually complete in about one year. After mating the male scorpion may find itself being eaten by the female. Females do not lay eggs, but instead give birth to living young which climb onto her body and remain there until after their first molt, around one or two weeks later. Up to 100 young are possible from a single female.

Identification: True scorpions are easily identified by the large claws in front and the long, narrow tail tipped by the pointed stinger. Sizes range from about 1 inch to well over 7 inches in length. Colors of North American species range from light yellowish tan to very dark brown. The dangerous species in the genus Centruroides are slender, yellowish, and may have two darker stripes running front to back on their dorsal side. They also have a short spine at the base of the stinger.

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