Animal Facts

All About Ladybugs

Ladybugs are not bugs at all, but are soft shelled beetles. Lady bugs are most known for their graceful ways and attractive outer appearance or their shell casing. In comparison to other bugs, ladybugs are the least harmless to humans and are often considered good luck, by even those who do not like bugs.

There are about 5,000 species of ladybugs in the world. These much loved critters are also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles. They come in many different colors and patterns, but the most familiar in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug, with its shiny, red-and-black body.

Physical Features

Did you know? Ladybugs are small and usually quite round in shape. The color on the wing covers (elytra) can be yellow, orange, or red and often has small black dots on it. Ladybugs also have black legs, head, and antennae. Its body has three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Each of the three body parts has a different function.

The head houses the ladybug’s mouthparts, compound eyes, and antennae. The thorax has three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings. The first pair of wings is the hardened elytra that protect the flight wings underneath. When the ladybug takes flight, the elytra open, and the thin, veined wings unfold. The abdomen contains organs for digestion, respiration, and reproduction.

The Lady Beetle

The name “ladybug” was coined by European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops. After ladybugs came and wiped out the invading insects, the farmers named them “Beetle of Our Lady.” This eventually was shortened to “lady beetle” and “ladybug.”

Ladybugs as Prey

When threatened, the bugs will secrete an oily, foul-tasting fluid from joints in their legs. They may also play dead. Birds are ladybugs’ main predators, but they also fall victim to frogs, wasps, spiders, and dragonflies. Potential predators may be deterred by the vile-smelling mix of alkaloids and equally repulsed by the sight of a seemingly sickly beetle. Ladybug larvae can also ooze alkaloids from their abdomens.

Insect-eating birds and other animals learn to avoid meals that come in red and black and are more likely to steer clear of a ladybug lunch.

Farmers and Lady Bugs

Farmers use ladybugs to control other insects. Because ladybugs have long been known to eat the gardener’s pestilent aphids and other insects, there have been many attempts to use ladybugs to control these pests.

Farmers often see a mass of ladybugs when the season changes. Also, ladybugs are known to wash upon the sea in large numbers. Fall infestations of these beetles is more a sign of winter’s approach. As the temperatures begin to cool, these bugs love when a sunny day beckons to them to come out and soak up the rays. They will do anything or go any place for a bit of warmth. In fact, if there is a tiny opening around a window or door, they find their way in and seem to invite all of their relatives.

In June 2019, a group of ladybugs moving through San Diego was so big, it showed up on the National Weather Service’s radar.

Ladybug Fast Facts

1. Lady bugs lay extra eggs as a snack for their babies.

2. Adult ladybugs fly with hidden wings.

3. Ladybugs survive the winter as adults.

4. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.

5. There are over 450 species of lady beetles are found in North America.

#Literacy, Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner

All About Artic Foxes

Artic Foxes are native to the Artic tundra areas within the Northern Hemisphere.

Artic Foxes thrive in some of the coldest conditions on earth due to their thick and dense coats of fur. Their thick fur coat keeps the foxes body at a toasty 104°F. Their feet also have a layer of thick fur, like built-in snow boots. Arctic foxes also have fur-covered paws that work to keep their bodies warm in the winter.

Arctic Foxes are meat and opportunistic eaters.

Artic Foxes are known to hunt and eat small rodents called lemmings. They even eat fish, birds, and large predators such as polar bears and wolves.

Artic Foxes seek shelter in burrows known as fox den’s.

These dens are built by the fox family and passed down each generation. Yes, Arctic fox dens are used for many generations—some are as old as 300 years. The Arctic Fox’s den has several entrances for security.

Artic Foxes are solitary animals.

During the Fall months, Artic Foxes are solitary animals and preserve fat but do not hibernate. In the Spring months, these Foxes live as families and breed and raid Fox puppies.

Click the photo for a video on Artic Foxes by The National Geographic.

These foxes are fast!

The Artic Fox can sprint up to 50 kilometers or 31 miles per hour!

Artic Foxes live 3 to 6 years.

The mortality is much higher during the cub years and ranges as high as 75%. The oldest Fox recorded was 16 years old.

Artic Fox Activity

Visit IHeartCraftyThings for instructions on this simple craft.
Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Parenting, Teachers

All About Seals

Cute, lovable, and amazing swimmers! Read below to learn more about seals.

Environment

  • Seals live in the cold ocean waters of the Arctic or off the coasts of Antarctica depending on the type of seal.
  • Fur seals and sea lions live in the Northern Pacific between Asia and North America and off the coasts of South America, Antarctica, southwestern Africa and southern Australia.
  • Harp, ringed, hooded, spotted, bearded and ribbon seals live in the Arctic. Crabeater, Weddell, leopard and Ross seals live in the Antarctic.
  • Seals also make caves to live within.

Diet

  • Seals are known to eat fish, but they will also eat eel, squid, octopus and lobster.
  • A seal mom milk can be 50% fat and baby seals can drink 2kgs a day!

Other Facts

  • It is estimated there are 2 million to 75 million individual seals, according to the IUCN.
  • Seas prefer cold water! That explains why they are found in Antartica!
  • In the wild, seals can live for up to 30 years with females having a higher life expectancy than the males.
  • Seals can sleep underwater!
  • Seal baby and mom recognize each other with a wild call after experiencing separation.

Best Seal Spotting Locations in Long Island, NY

Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center – Wantagh.

Atlantic Marine Conservation Society – Southampton.

Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI) – Westhampton Beach.

Montauk State Park – Montauk.

Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, Virtual Learning

Meerkat Facts- The Small and Mysterious Animal

Small and mysterious meerkats

Environment

  • Meerkats are specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment.
  • Meerkats can live in pretty much any dessert. However, Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, Namib Desert in Namibia and south-western Angola and in South Africa.
  • Their social cooperation within a large group and their extensively burrowed tunnels helps them to survive in arid African deserts.
  • Meerkats will also share their burrows with beetles.
  • Despite living in the desert unbelievably meerkats do not need extra water in their diets. They get all the moisture they need from the insects and grubs they eat.

Diets

  • Meerkats are insectivores, which means most of their diet is made up of insects.
  • However, they are also known to eat small mammals, snakes and snake eggs, birds and bird eggs, grubs (an insect’s wormlike larva) and even poisonous scorpions.
  • Meetkats also enjoy eating fruits and vegetables.

Body Structure

  • Very small catlike carnivores, their faces often have a curious look, seemingly taking in everything in their surroundings.
  • They have long bodies and short flat ears and are able to stand on their hind legs.
  • The color of their coat can be gold, silver, brown or orange, with dark patches around the eyes.
  • They can dig their own body weight of dirt within a few seconds and their high endurance enables them to build elaborate tunnels.
  • Meerats can live up to eight years in the wild.
  • Meerkats are immune to venom and can handle a bite from a poisonous snake.
Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner, EdTech

All About Leopards

This spotted, fierce cat has many interesting features. Read more about the leopard below!

Habitat

  • Leopards are found in Africa and Asia, from the Middle Eastern nations to Russia, Korea, China, India, and Malaysia. Consequently, they live in a wide variety of habitats including forests, mountains, deserts and grasslands.
  • Leopards can live in a range of geographies and climates, from deserts to rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, savannas, forests, mountains, coastal areas, shrublands, and swamps.
  • Studies have shown that leopard subspecies vary in their coloring depending on the area where they reside. Some leopards have different pads on their paws due to their habitat.

Behaviors

  • Leopards are skilled climbers, and like to rest in the branches of trees during the day.
  • Leopards are active at night when they venture out in search for food. They mostly spend their days resting, camouflaged in the trees or hiding in caves.
  • Leopards communicate with each other through distinctive calls. For instance, when a male wants to make another leopard aware of his presence, he’ll make a hoarse, raspy cough.
  • Leopards are predominantly solitary animals that have large territories.
  • Each leopard spends most of its life in its own territory. And to warn other leopards to stay away, they leave scratches on trees, and urine scent marks around their areas.

Body Structure

  • Leopards tend to have distinctive dark spots called rosettes, which create beautiful patterns against their otherwise light fur.
  • Black leopards however have dark fur which makes it difficult to see the spots. They appear almost solid black and are often called black panthers.
  • Snow leopards have, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes – helping distribute their weight over soft snow and protecting them from the cold.
  • A leopard’s height can range from 57 to 70 cm and they can reach a length of 90 to 160 cm.
  • Females typically weigh between 17 and 65 kg, and a male usually weighs anywhere from 31 to 75 kg.

Famous Leopards

  • Bagheera- The Jungle Book
  • Sabor- Tarzan
  • Makucha- The Lion Guard

Thanks to Africa Freak and Nat Geo Kids !

Animal Facts, Clever Kids Corner

All About Giraffes

Giraffes, known for their long necks, graceful glide and calm demeanor. Here are some awesome facts about giraffes!

Habitat

  • Giraffes are found in the dry savannahs of Africa, where they roam among the open plains and woodlands.
  • Giraffe are already extinct in at least seven countries in Africa.
  • A giraffe’s height is helpful for keeping a look out for predators, such as lions and hyenas. Their excellent eyesight allows them to spot hungry beasts from far away, too.
  • Giraffes spend 16 or more hours per day eating and traveling to find food.

Body Structure

  • Well known for their long necks, these gentle giants are the world’s tallest living land animals. An adult male can grow to around 5.5m – that’s taller than three adult humans!
  • Giraffe tongues are bluish-purple and between 45 and 50 cm long.
  • A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. To drink, giraffe first have to splay their forelegs and/or bend their knees, and only then can they lower their necks to reach the surface of the water.
  • A giraffe heart weighs approximately 11 kilograms and is the biggest of any land mammal. It is used to pump 60 litres of blood around its body every minute at a blood pressure twice that of an average human.
  • The spots on giraffes are unique, no two giraffes spots are the same, just like humans – no two fingerprints are the same.
  • The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world. Even newborn giraffe are taller than most humans.
  • A male giraffe is called a Bull, baby giraffes are called Calves and females are called Cows.

Diets

  • Herbivores, giraffes only eat plants. Their favorite food is the acacia tree, and they use their long necks to reach the leaves and buds in the treetops. Their long tongues (which grow to a whopping 53cm!) also help them pull down leaves growing way up high.
  • And boy do these guys have an appetite! They spend most of their time eating, and can guzzle up to 45kg of leaves and twigs a day!
  • Whilst they may eat a lot, giraffes don’t drink much water. This is because they get most of their water from their leafy meals, and only need to drink once every few days.

Thanks to Nat Geo Kids , Giraffe Conservation!