CREATURE FEATURE: Koppie Foam Grasshopper

The Koppie Foam Grasshopper (Dictyophorus spumans) is a southern African insect. Spumans means foam. It is also called the Rooibaadjie (Red Jacket) or the Foaming Grasshopper.

Its name comes from the grasshopper’s ability to produce a toxic (poisonous) foam from its thoracic glands (just behind its head). It eats the toxic milkwood plant, which makes the foam toxic too. This means that other animals don’t like to eat the Koppie Foam Grasshopper because it smells awful, tastes awful, and is poisonous.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Koppie Foam Grasshopper”

Safari Ants

Safari Ants (Dorylus), found in central and eastern Africa, are also known as Driver Ants, Army Ants. They can grow up to 2 centimetres (1 inch) long.

Safari Ants are red or red-black with a head, an abdomen, and a thorax. The drones are larger than the soldier ants, and the queen ant is the largest ant in the colony. Soldier Safari Ants have a large head with mandibles (jaws) that look like crab pincers. All worker Safari Ants are blind and don’t have eyes. They communicate by touch and scent (called pheromones).

Safari Ants live in large colonies, which can contain over 20 million individuals. Colonies are nomadic. They travel in a long column that travels abut 20 metres (65.5 feet) an hour. The small ants move inside the column with the large soldier ants on the outside to protect them. Large numbers of ants can kill small animals.

Continue reading “Safari Ants”

Termite Mound

A termite mound is the home of termites. This group of termites live in Africa, while others live in Australia and South America.

Termites are like ants. They live in colonies and build the mounds above an underground nest.

Termites dig into the earth to look for water. As the dig down, they bring the dirt to the surface, and the mound grows as the termites dig further into the soil.

Continue reading “Termite Mound”

Swamp Bluet Damselfly

The Swamp Bluet (Coenagrion lyelli) is a medium-sized blue damselfly, an insect similar to a dragonfly, in the family Coenagrionidae. They live across the globe in most climates, near streams, pools, and lakes.

The Swamp Bluet male is bright blue with black markings. The abdomen is long and slender with ten segments.

It has compound eyes (like house flies) and three simple eyes (ocelli) on their foreheads. It has a small antenna.

The joint between head and prothorax is flexible, which enables the damselfly to swivel its head.

Continue reading “Swamp Bluet Damselfly”

Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers

The Toxic Milkweed Grasshopper (Pyrgomorphidae) is an African grasshopper in the order Orthoptera.

Orthoptera insects include grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. They have a cylindrical body with long back legs for jumping.

Adult Toxic Milkweek Grasshoppers are generally green, but juvenile grasshoppers, called nymphs, can be black. Other species may have different coloured nymphs.

Continue reading “Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers”

Ant Stomachs

Ants have two stomachs.

One stomach feeds the ant itself.

The second stomach is used to feed other ants in the colony, which the ant does by secreting liquids out of their body that other ants suck up.

This is called reciprocal feeding or trophallaxis.

External Covering: from skin and scales to fur and feathers

External covering is the outside appearance of an animal. Animals can have fur, feathers, hair, short hair, long hair, smooth hair, bristles, skin, thick skin, moist skin, dry skin, scales, waterproof scales, small scales, overlapping scales, spikes, hard shells, soft shells, smooth shells, rough shells, wool, or no covering at all.

Continue reading “External Covering: from skin and scales to fur and feathers”

Sleeping animals: what’s the difference between hibernate, aestivate, dormant, lethargic, diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular?

Animals sleep. Some animals sleep at night, some animals sleep during the day, and some animals sleep in cold climates.

Animals that are diurnal are active mainly during the day and sleep at night.

Animals that are nocturnal are active mainly at night and sleep during the day.

Animals that are active mainly at dawn and dusk are crepuscular. They sleep during the day and during the night.

Continue reading “Sleeping animals: what’s the difference between hibernate, aestivate, dormant, lethargic, diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular?”

Iridescent scales, feathers and shells

Iridescence means shiny with many colours. Many animals have iridescent colours.

Iridescence is structural colour from refracted light (crystals), diffraction gratings (feathers or butterfly wings), thin film (oily surfaces), multiple layer interference (nacre in shells), or 3-D arrays of spheres (opals).

The word iridescence comes from iris, the Greek word for rainbow. An iridescent object has many tones of colour. Iridescence creates colour by splitting and reflecting light from different structures – which is why it is often called structural colour.

Continue reading “Iridescent scales, feathers and shells”