Week of August 20, 2023 – August 26, 2023
by Sunny Guyette, Environmental Educator
This summer I have witnessed amazing feastings happening at Baltimore Woods with the help of my sharp-eyed campers; a Bee Mimic Robber Fly eating a Ladybug, a Cicada Killer Wasp paralyzing a Cicada to prepare it for feeding it’s larvae, and slugs feasting on already deceased Black and Yellow Flat Millipedes. The Robber Fly and the Cicada Killer Wasp have similar techniques in preparing meals. Both paralyze their prey by injecting their stinger or sharp tubelike mouth parts and release venom into the body to liquify the insides for easy eating (gruesome, I know). Slugs, on the other hand, don’t need to do much meal prepping, they mostly feed on plants and occasionally, decaying bugs. It is not everyday that I get to watch a National Geographic-worthy event in person and I am glad that I am able to work with kids who can easily spot small critters like these!
These types of experiences allow me and the kids to slow down and take a closer look at what’s happening in nature . Then, we get to ask questions and dive deeper into the knowledge of creatures that we might have never been curious about before; “why is the wasp carrying a cicada? Did the slugs kill the millipedes or were they already dead?.”
Nature may not always be this flashy and eventful or you may not have eager kids to spot these sorts of events for you. For me, it helps to pick a somewhat quiet area to sit and observe nature for at least 10 minutes. Try this on your next hike, did anything catch your eye or cause you to ask questions? It’s a critter-eat-critter world so, you may be surprised at what you might find!