Elms Environmental Education Center

Welcome to Planet Earth

Critter of the Month

Every month we highlight a different local animal.

September 2014: Oleander Aphid

 


Oleander Aphid

(with monarch egg)
Aphis nerii

Who am I?

I am aphid hear me roar! Seriously we are all females. Who needs males? When I mature I don't lay eggs, I lay nymphs -- mini mes that will grow up quickly and make more nymphs. That is why you see us in such huge numbers on your milkweed plants. (An asexual method of reproduction called parthenogenesis.) My daughters are all clones of myself and fertile! We are all very tiny (about 3mm) true yellow bugs. 

Where can you find me?

I can be found starting in early summer on milkweed, vinca and some other plants. We coat the stems and suck the juices for lunch. We can be found in all warm to tropical climates.

What do I eat?

Plant juice (sap) preferably on young tender shoots. That is it.

What might eat me?

Ladybugs! We hate lady bugs. But they will never eat enough of us to keep us down. We produce more babies than they can eat. Okay, lacewings, some other fly larvae and a couple of wasps will prey on me and mine as well.

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • We are all clones of our mothers.
  • We are born fertile and able to reproduce almost immediately.
  • It is though that there are no males in wild populations.
  • We produce a sticky honeydew that will blacken with mold. Not very pretty, but not particularly destructive either.
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August 2014: Eastern Wood Peewee

 


Eastern Wood Peewee
Contopus virens

Who am I?

I am a flycatcher. Like other flycatchers I will wait on a branch or power line watching for some little unsuspecting moth or other insect to fly by. When spotted I will fly off my branch grab some lunch and return to the same place, or nearby. I can be quite entertaining. I make a unique sound that is easy to identify saying "pee-a-wee, pee-a-wee". You can't miss it. I build a small, about 3 inches across, nest of woven grass or hair that is placed well above your headin the trees. I am territorial and will fight to keep other peewees away from my hunting area.

Where can you find me?

In the summer I live in  forests on the est coast of the United States, especially in open areas where i can see insects flying around so you will most likely find me on the edge of the forest as opposed to the center. When it gets cold and the insects dissappear I head to south america.

What do I eat?

Bugs. Little things that fly.

What might eat me?

 

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • My call is very easy to learn. Click here to hear my call.
  • I can live up to 8 years.

 

 
 

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