July 30, 2019

What's The Buzz All About?

Posted by: John Cassell

What's The Buzz All About?

It’s getting hotter in July y’all. In addition to the rise in sea turtle hatchling sightings, guests here on Little St. Simons will also see a rise in our insect communities. While the mosquitoes and no-see-ums (sandflies) are not much appreciated, their presence helps drive the large numbers of birds, reptiles, and other wildlife guests want to see. In fact, the large presence of insects in our marsh support a very complex and large food web. If all the insects here vanished instantaneously, it would not take long for animals to disperse away, thus buzzing and biting species could be an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. 


Thanks to the various ecosystems found here the beetles, flies, caterpillars, mosquitoes, and other bugs can take advantage of their surroundings looking for food. Yet we still don’t know every type of insect that lives here. Almost every month we naturalists come across an unknown specimen or a guest shows us a photo of one from the garden. Currently, hundreds of insects have been documented here but thanks to technology and more observant behavior we are seeing new faces. Some examples are wheel bug nymphs, goldsmith beetles, various moths, katydids, earwigs, and parasitic wasps. Understanding what insects are found on the island can help researchers determine how the habitats and seasonal patterns influence our animal populations.


So where should you look to find these organisms? Take a few steps outside and start focusing on the bark of trees, the shade under a fallen log, or the petals of our garden flowers. See a trend? Plants are critical to the life stages of many species, so if you look among the trees of the forest or grasses of the marsh you will have no problem finding insects. If you are home and find a bug you want identified here are three websites you can look into:


1. https://www.whatsthatbug.com/

2. https://www.insectidentification.org/insects-by-state.asp?thisState=Georgia

3. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/insects-of-georgia


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