Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Our Pet Water Scorpion and a New Kind of Mosquito Problem June 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — saltthesandbox @ 8:38 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

When we dropped Aaron off at his friend’s vacation cottage in Michigan, we brought home a new pet: A Water Scorpion.

Water Scorpions are insects. They look like a cross between a Walking Stick Insect, a Preying Mantis, and a vampire. Their bodies and legs are long and skinny like a Walking Stick, to camouflage them in aquatic vegetation. Their front legs are like Preying Mantis legs, designed to quickly reach out and grab bugs and fish. And they jab their sharp beaks into their prey to suck the juices, like vampires:

X

A Water Scorpion looks like a cross between a Walking Stick Insect, a Preying Mantis, and a vampire, but it's a kind of insect called a True Bug. The long tail is used to get oxygen from the air while the Water Scorpion hides in underwater plants. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Our Water Scorpion lives in a gallon jar, and it’s always hungry. One of its favorite foods is Mosquito larvae. If you’ve been following this blog for a few months, you may remember that we’ve been keeping baby Mosquitoes (called larvae) as pets. (You can see posts about them here and here.) Well, for the last two weeks we’ve been feeding our former pets to our current one. It looks like this — but turn away if you love Mosquito larvae!

The Wtare Scorpion is sucking the juices from one Mosquito larvae while holding its next meal in its Prey Mantis-like front leg. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Water Scorpion is sucking the juices from one Mosquito larvae while holding its next meal with its trap-like front leg. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here’s the problem: Our Water Scorpion eats five or more Mosquito larvae a day, and our Mosquito supply can’t keep up with its appetite! We’ve been using our backyard pools as Mosquito traps. We lure adult Mosquitoes to lay their eggs in the stagnant water, then we capture and raise the newly hatched babies. Fortunately, the hot, wet weather has been good for Mosquitoes. Ethan found about a dozen egg masses this evening, and in a week or so we’ll have another big batch of larvae ready to feed to the Water Scorpion.

Until then, please check any buckets, bird baths, and other water sources in your yard. If you find them filled with wriggling Mosquito larvae, please let us know. We’ll pick them up if you live within five miles of our home in south Oak Park. If you live farther away, you’d better dump the water out, or you’ll soon have a different kind of Mosquito problem in your yard!

—–

To learn more about Water Scorpions, please visit these websites:

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s