Elms Environmental Education Center

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Critter of the Month

Every month we highlight a different local animal.

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.

 

 
 

July 2014: Chigger/Red Bug

Photo Credit: Alan Walker

 

spit
Chigger
Trombicula alfreddugesi

 

Who am I?

Uh oh. I have been noticed. Or my babies have. I am very small and as a baby can't readily be seen without a microscope or magnifying glass. Still you know my babies are around when your ankles start to itch. I lay about 15 eggs, a batch every day when the weather is warm. You see, my lovely children, eat skin. Your skin, rabbit skin, just about any skin they can get into. They will hang out in the grass and land on your foot as you walk by. Then they will spit on your skin making it dissolve into mush creating a hole. They only want to slurp some up so they can grow up. Is that so bad? You won't know my babies are there for a couple of days and they will only stay attached to you for a few days so chances are by the time you notice them they are about done feeding. After they have had their fill they will detach from your skin and hang out in the ground where they will change from a larvae to pupae. From here on out they won't bother you anymore. They don't do much as pupae, just wait to become adults. When they transform into adults, like me, they eat other tiny insects their eggs and plants. Oh and make more babies to harass you.

 

Where can you find me?

Everywhere it is moist, though mostly tall grass and on clumps of plants. I am never very far off the ground hanging out in large groups with my brother's and sisters waiting for some skin-bearing creature to walk by.

 

What do I eat?

Babies, or larvae, eat skin and adults eat other insects and plants.

 

What might eat me?

Other insects will happily eat me if they can find me. 

 

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • Only the larvae eat skin and are a nuisance to humans.
  • Chiggers are most abundant in early summer when the plants are lush.
  • We do not lay eggs in your skin.
  • We do not burrow into your skin. We are more like ticks.
  • We are related to spiders, not insects.

 

 

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