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Stag Beetle


Kentucky Entomology Leadership Program
Investigating the Sheltowee
Critter Of The Month: Stag Beetles
Upcoming Events
Wee Beasties Mailing List
Contact Information

True Bug
Last week marked the 2005 Kentucky Entomology Leadership Program (KFELP).  This week-long, overnight program introduced high-school students to insect identification and the complex ecological and economic relationships between insects and the forest.  This year, a student in the program created a web page for Stag Beetles, this issue's Critter of the Month.  If you know high-school students who are interested in entomology, biology, forestry, or ecology and who may be interested in attending next year's program (June 5-9, 2006), please visit the website below for more details and an application.
Night-Insect Observatory
Night-Insect Observatory from the 2005 Entomology Leadership Program
(A. Osborne, 2005)
This September, several extension specialists from the College of Agriculture, along with representatives from the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources, will be hiking 110 miles of the Sheltowee Trace in the southern part of the Daniel Boone National Forest .  With help from the U.S. Forest Service, the Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment, East Kentucky Pride, Bluegrass Pride, and Eastern Kentucky University, these hikers will bring their expertise to the Sheltowee Trace to investigate the insects, plants, wildlife, soils, water, and other natural resources of the forest.  We will also be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service. 

The Sheltowee Trace is a 260 mile National Recreation Trail that runs north and south through the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky.  It connects many popular Kentucky attractions, such as Cave Run Lake, Natural Bridge State Park, the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Cumberland Falls State Park, and the Big South Fork National Recreation Area.  The trail offers Kentuckians a unique opportunity to travel through a wide variety of habitats, from rugged, wooded ridge-tops to farmland.  The Sheltowee was named for Daniel Boone, whose nickname was "Sheltowee," a native american word for "turtle."  Hence, the turtle blaze (pictured on the right) used to mark the Sheltowee.

Which way do we go?
Which way do we go? (B. Newton, 2005)


In addition to photographing and studying the natural resources that we discover along or journey, our primary goal for this hike is to highlight the Sheltowee as a resource for recreation and education.  At several stops along the trek, we will meet with school groups, scouts, 4Hers, and others to share with them our hiking experience.  In addition, several Boy Scout troops from the Bluegrass Council will be hiking different sections of the trail throughout 2005.  They will act, literally, as "scouts," reporting to us confusing intersections, blocked sections, and potential dangers. 

In 2006, we will to continue this project by hiking the northern portion of the Trace.  When both legs of the trail are completed, we plan to create an educator's guide to the Sheltowee Trace, which will allow teachers in Kentucky to take their students to different parts of the trail (or to any natural areas in Kentucky) to study natural resources.

For more information about this hike, please contact Blake Newton at (859) 257-7453, or blaken@uky.edu.  For a complete schedule of events, visit the online flyer at: www.ca.uky.edu/enri/sheltowee.htm 


Stag BeetleStag Beetles are among the largest and most distinctive insects found in Kentucky.  The males, with their gigantic mandibles, are always guaranteed to attract attention.  They use these mandibles to fight with one another for mating privileges (much like "real" stags).

Stag beetles are a very important part of forest ecosystems.  Like termites, their larvae live and feed in rotten wood, helping to recycle nutrients.  In fact, no healthy forest in Kentucky is complete without lots of rotting logs and stag beetles.  

Although they have a fearsome appearance, stag beetles are not dangerous.  Read more about these beetles in the Critter Case Files: Stag Beetles.  The Stag Beetle Critter File was created by Lydia Thomas, a high-school senior from Shelby County who studied these beetles during the 2005 Kentucky Entomology Leadership Program.

Each issue, Wee Beasties features one of the critters from the Critter Case Files, University of Kentucky's on-line guide to insects, spiders, and related critters.

front cover of book:  Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States

by J. L. Capinera, R.D. Scott, and T.J. Walker.

Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids (the primary members of the insect order Orthoptera) are some of the most easily recognized insects.  Kids especially have no trouble distinguishing grasshoppers and crickets from other insects, thanks especially to the unique jumping legs found on these insects.  There are also hundreds of species of grasshoppers and crickets in the United States.  Despite the ubiquitous and familiar nature of this group of insects, they tend to receive little attention from scientists and field guides.  

This new (2004) guide is designed to give these insects the attention they deserve.  About 1/3rd of the species in the United States are pictured and discussed, including all of the most common types.  Also included are several chapters of interesting biological information and graphical depictions of the songs produced by some species.  Be aware that the pictures are drawings rather than photos.  Drawings are more useful for technical identification but can be less user friendly than photos for field identification. 

As an educator, you may find that a regular insect field guide contains all the information that you need about grasshoppers and their relatives.  If you (or a student!) wants to know more, however, this is the only book in town, and it is a high-quality product.  

The Entomology Department will be present with displays, insects, and information at the following events and locations during Summer and Fall 2005:

Raven Run Night Insect Walk (859-272-6105), Lexington, Ky
College of Agriculture "Roundup"

Would you like to receive a PDF copy of each fall and spring Wee Beasties issue via email as soon as it is printed?  If so, send us some a note at blaken@uky.edu and we will put you on the list!  If you don't like PDF, we will also send you a a link to the HTML version of the issue when it is published.
If you have ideas, experiences, or information that you would like to share or would like information about educational resources available through the University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology, write, phone, or email:

Blake Newton
S-225 Agriculture Science Center - North
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40546-0091

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Black and white images used with permission from http://www.arttoday.com
Other images courtesy R. Bessin & B. Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky

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