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pink lady beetle


2003 Environmental Academy
Buggin' At The Children's Museum
Critter Of The Month: Pink Lady Beetle
Book Review
Upcoming Events
Wee Beasties Mailing List
Contact Information

wasp face

Kentucky has one of the most diverse combinations of ecosystems in the United States.  Our state has forests and mountains in the east, plains in the west, a complex cave system,  and a staggering array of lakes, rivers, and streams.  This summer, Kentucky educators will have a unique opportunity to explore Kentucky's incredible ecosystem diversify first hand.

Exploring Kentucky's Ecosystems: A Road Trip Across Kentucky will be a 5-day environmental academy offered June 16-20, 2003.  Academy participants will tour the state with stops at the Daniel Boone National Forest, Mammoth Cave National Park, Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, and other natural areas.  

Central Kentucky Grassland

Along the way, and with the help of some of Kentucky's best science and education experts, participants will investigate the wildlife, plantlife, soils, and (of course) insects associated with each ecosystem, focusing on ways to bring this information back to the classroom.

Enrollment for this academy is limited to 30, and some participants will qualify for a stipend to attend, so sign up soon.

For more information: contact Stephanie Jenkins at the Tracy Farmer Center For the Environment at (859) 257-4974.


Who's buggin'?  We're Buggin'.  The Lexington Children's Museum and the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology have teamed up to bring a unique experience to Central Kentucky, and we want everyone to come see it.    

Just Buggin' Banner

"Just Buggin'" is the name of a brand-new exhibit at the Lexington Children's Museum.   Featured in this exhibit are live insects, mounted insects, and an interactive demonstration of insect acoustics.  Oh -- you'll also find a giant luna moth.
Giant Luna Moth Sculpture
The centerpiece of Just Buggin' is a giant luna moth sculpture.  This sculpture is not only accurate, but functional: built into it are aquaria that house live arthropods.  Right now, the rotating Just Buggin' arthropod crew features a Chilean Rose-Hair Tarantula, an Emperor Scorpion, and a giant African millipede.  Kids love to get up-close-and-personal with these amazing animals.  Hurry, though: the insects change periodically so that we can showcase lots of different creatures.
Pictured on the right is the amazing Just Buggin' Insect Acoustic Demonstration Station.  This device allows kids to listen to the sounds that insects make, and then duplicate those sounds using musical instruments.  For instance: a small snare drum replicates the sound of a male stonefly.  Male stoneflies bang their abdomens on rocks to attract females.
Insect Acoustics Station

The Lexington Children's Museum is located on Short Street in Downtown Lexington.  Visit their website for hours and ticket prices:

Come visit Just Buggin' soon!  You never know when it's going to just "bug off." (Sorry.)


You may have noticed the lady beetle at the top of this newsletter.  That lady beetle is not just any lady beetle.  It's the Pink Lady Beetle, Coleomegilla maculata.  

We have many species of lady beetles in Kentucky.  The pink lady beetle, also called the "12-spotted lady beetle," is just one of them.  It also happens to be one of the most common, and it is native to Kentucky.  

pink lady beetle
Pink Lady Beetle  (R. Bessin, 2000)

Like most lady beetles, the pink lady beetle is a predator and feeds on aphids, insect eggs, and other small, slow-moving arthropods.  Pink lady beetles are frequently found in field crops such as tobacco, corn, and soybean.  They are one of the "good guys" who help reduce pest numbers.  Unfortunately, another lady beetle species, the exotic Asian Lady Beetle, often feeds on native lady beetles like the pink lady beetle.

Read more about pink lady beetles and other lady beetle species in the Lady Beetles entry of the Critter Case Files.

Critter Of The Month is a new Wee Beasties feature.  Each month, we will feature one of the critters from the Critter Case Files, University of Kentucky's on-line field guide to insects, spiders, and related critters.
front cover of book:  Buzzwords

Peterson First Guide: Caterpillars

by Amy Bartlett Wright

Immature insects, such as caterpillars, are usually ignored by traditional insect field guides.  This is unfortunate.  After all, many insects spend more time in the immature stage than in the adult stage.  Plus, imature insects often look completely different than their corresponding adults.  Not to mention that some of nature's most fascinating colors, shapes, and behaviors are exhibited by immature insects.  


So why do immature insects get the short end of the field-guide stick?  There are several good reasons.  For one, there are so many adult insects that field guides don't have enough room for all of them, much less the immature forms.  Also, immature insects are often difficult to identify, even for experts.

But that doesn't mean that immature insects should be left out.  After all, they are really cool.  That's why Peterson's First Guide to Caterpillars is so welcome.  This is one of the few field guides that attempts to tackle the confusing world of immature insects, and it does an admirable job, despite a few flaws.  

Included are pictures of the most common moth and butterfly larvae in the continental U.S.  You will also find pictures of the adults and, in many cases, the pupae.  The book has an easy to use picture identification system (based on the shapes of the caterpillars) that works well.  Flaws?  Well, as with every insect field guide, this one is not complete -- not every caterpillar species is pictured.  But given that it is impossible to fit all the moth and butterfly caterpillars into a single field guide (much less a pocket-sized one!), this one does a good job of covering most of the different types of caterpillars.  Another minor quibble: although this book is marketed for children, it uses fairly sophisticated language and is probably more useful for older kids (middle school and up) and adults.  

Nit-picking aside, this is a great book to have.  Plus, it is currently priced at less than $7.  This guide, along with the Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths, may be all you will ever need to study butterflies and moths.  Most importantly, it gives immature insects a much-needed spot on the bookshelf.  Now, if only someone would do the same for immature beetles.  And wasps.  And dragonflies... 

The Entomology Department will be present with displays, insects, and information at the following events and locations during Spring and Summer 2003:

upcoming events

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/
Photos courtesy of R. Bessin & B. Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky

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