Archive for January, 2010

What is a praying mantis?

Mantis

The praying mantis (or mantid) is a long, slender insect that often sits in an upright position with its large front legs meekly folded beneath its bowed head as if it were saying its prayers.

But the mantid is not praying at all:  no, indeed!  It would be nearer the truth to call it a “Preying mantis,’ for the mantid is really preying.  This fearsome creature preys on other insects.

Hidden by its green color, the praying mantid sits motionless in wall among leaves with its body raised in its hunting position, ready to snap at the first insect that comes by.

When a fly, or other insect, wanders within striking range, the mantid reaches out its barbed, tap like front legs in a lightning attack and grabs its victim in a viselike grip.

The mantid is useful to man because it greedily devours mosquitoes, flies, and many other insect pests.

Some people imagine that the mantid’s upright posture suggests a fearing horse.  For this reason the mantid is sometimes called mantid is sometimes called a “rearhorse.” – Dick Rogers

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Why do ants follow ant trails?

We are all familiar with ant trails, traced by those long lines of scurrying ants.  If you should follow such a trail, you would find that it leads to a good supply of food that the ants are collecting for  the ant nest.

Most common ants see poorly or not at all.  Blind ants get along very well by using the two “feelers,” or antennae, that wave constantly from their head to smell, taste and touch everything about them.

To collect food, they follow “odor trails”  left by other ants.

Ant Trails

When an ant finds food it becomes excited and hurries back to the nest, leaving an odor trail for the ants at home to follow.

Soon there is a steady trail of ants going to and from the new food supply.

Ants do not live and work in groups called “colonies.”

Each ant has its own duties.  An ant colony is made up mostly of worker ants.

Some do the housekeeping and take care of the queen and the baby ants.  Some defend the nest against intruders, while others gather food.

Which are the largest bears?

Bears are large, powerful animals with thick, shaggy fur.  They are among the favorite performers in circuses and zoos.

The bear family includes some pretty big bears.

A lion, for example, may weigh as much as 450 pounds.  But a good-sized grizzly bear or polar bear may weigh 750 to 1,000 pounds!

Bear

The biggest of all bears are the big Alaskan brown bears and Kodiak bears found in Alaska and on Kodiak Island off the coast of Alaska.

Some of these giants may weigh more than 1,500 pounds and may be over nine feet tall when standing on their hind feet.

Bears look clumsy because they walk with a peculiar, shuffling gait, but are not nearly as slow as they look.  They can run faster than any human runner.

Most bears are usually peaceful animals, and run from danger.

But all bears are short-tempered and dangerous, and even friendly, tamed bears cannot always be trusted.

In fact, the grizzly bear is considered by many to be the most dangerous of all North American wild animals. – Dick Rogers

Why are llamas called the camels of South America?

Llamas

We are likely to imagine that llamas got their nickname “Camel of South America” by being South America’s bearers of burdens, just as camels are the “ships of the desert.”

But, strangely enough, llamas really ARE the “camel” of South America.  The odd-looking llamas (LAH-muh) is a member of the camel family.

Scientists believe camels lived in North America many ages ago.  Some wondered down the bridge to South America, while other went off into Asia.  Then  for some unknown reason the ones left in North America disappeared.

Unlike their camel cousins of today, the llama has no hump and a fully grown llamas is only about four feet high at the shoulders.  But if you look closely enough, you can see that the llamas resembles a camel in may other ways.

Like camels, llamas can be very stubborn and ill-tempered.  If a llamas feels its pack is too heavy, or if it thinks it has worked enough, it will lie down and refuse to get until the load is lightened or until it has rested.

If mistreated or annoyed, a llama is likely to spit it bad-smelling saliva in its tormentor’s face.  – Dick Rogers

Why did the dinosaurs disappear from the earth?

Probably no one will ever know for sure why dinosaurs disappeared.  But scientist thin that it was because the dinosaurs couldn’t change to fit themselves to a changing world.

Long ago, when the big dinosaurs roamed the vast swamps that covered much of the land, great changes slowly look place on earth.  Mountains began to appear and the great seaways drained from the continents.

Dinosaur

The warm, swampy land grew dry and chilly.  And the water plants that they are disappeared.

As the plant-eating dinosaurs died out, the meat-eating dinosaurs that depended on them for food also began to disappear.

These changes took place over millions of years.

Everything we know about dinosaurs comes from fossils which are the petrified remains of the dinosaurs’ bones and teeth.

By studying these fossils, scientists can tell what the dinosaurs looked like when they lived on earth.  – Dick Rogers

What is a tadpole?

Tadpole

Baby frogs are called tadpoles or polliwogs.  When spring comes, a mother frog lays a mass of jellylike eggs and attaches them to a plant on the edge of a quiet pond.

The little tadpoles hatch and begin life in the pond.  They breathe through tiny gills, as fish do, and have long, swimming tails, but no legs.

In fact, they look more like fishes than frogs.  As the tadpole grows, it begins to grow legs.  First two, hind legs and then two front hind legs and then two front legs appear.

Its tail becomes shorter, its lungs grow larger and its gills become smaller and finally disappear.

A tongue grows in its mouth.  The tadpole is now ready to eat insects instead of plants.  At last it is ready to hp on land.  From now on it must have air to breathe.

Some tadpoles make the change into frogs in a few months.  The tadpole for a bullfrog may take two years to grow up. – Dick Rogers

Why do geese fly in a ‘V’ formation?

Geese are web-footed birds closely related to ducks and swans.

Wild geese sometimes fly in the familiar V shaped formation when moving to or from their breeding grounds in the Far North.

We can only guess why the geese fly in this formation.  One idea is that the geese follow a leading on their flights.

Geese

Because its eyes are located on the sides of its head it would be easier for a goose to see the other geese in this formation.

The goose at the front of the triangle is a wise old gander which knows the traditional route, with its various safe stopovers.

The term “silly goose” does not apply to these handsome birds.

Geese are cautious and very intelligent birds.

While on the ground, they seem to post sentinels to stand guard against danger while the flock feeds.

The Canada goose is probably the best-know goose of North America.  A large Canada gander may measure well over 3 feet, have a wingspan of over 6 feet and weigh up to 13 pounds. – Dick Rogers