Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Splat!

Aug 22, 2016

Why is it that when insects hit your windshield, they seem to hit right where you are looking? Who are these insects, and why are they out flying around?

The answer to the first question is coincidence. The answers to the other questions are a bit more involved.

Most insects hit your windshield at night, when many are active under the cover of darkness. They fly around in search of food or mates or both. Moths, lightning bugs and mosquitoes are among the insects that make your windshield their final landing place.

Female moths release a smell, which attracts males. The males can’t resist this scent that hangs in the air or is carried by the wind. As they follow the perfumed path to the females, they may meet your windshield in the process. Moths also navigate by the stars, and artificial lights can attract them. They may also be attracted to headlights, which can result in messy windshields.

Mosquitoes use the night to search for food, preferably a warm body and not a warm car. But they frequently encounter windshields nonetheless.

When an insect splats your windshield, it was just following its instincts. The collisions are indications of the busy insect night life that usually escapes our notice.

Summer’s Favorite Bug 

  • The lightning bug is nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). When the winged adults fly, the bioluminescent tips of their abdomens wink on and off.
  • The larvae are voracious predators with jaws equipped with toxin to help them overpower snails, slugs, earthworms, and other prey. Adults eat a variety of foods, depending on the species.
  • Many scientists use luciferase (the bioluminescent enzyme) in gene research, as a way to observe biological processes, and in forensic research.
  • The larvae help control populations of the various invertebrates they prey on; the adults are rarely preyed upon, as they contain chemicals that make them distasteful to predators.

firefly_2012.jpg

image of Firefly crawling on a leaf
Firefly (Lightning Bug)

Butterflies & Moths - AskMDC

You never know when you might encounter one of Missouri's beautiful butterflies or moths. AskMDC helps you identify some of these colorful species.
You never know when you might encounter one of Missouri's beautiful butterflies or moths. AskMDC helps you identify some of these colorful species.

Recent Posts

trail

Celebrate National Days Outdoors

May 31, 2020

Celebrate national days locally in Missouri's great outdoors this month. Get ideas and tips in this month's Discover Nature Note.

Longear Sunfish

The Color of Fish

May 26, 2020

Fish use color for blending into their surroundings, selecting mates, and self-defense. They can also change their colors and patterns by mood. Learn more about the how fish use color in this week's Discover Nature Note.
 

Gray Tree Frog Calling

Amphibian Noisemakers

May 17, 2020

Discover the sounds and skills of Acris crepitans and Hyla versicolor, more commonly known as cricket frogs and gray tree frogs. They perform an outdoor suite while munching on pesky insects that are not so sweet. Learn more in this week's Discover Nature Note.
 

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes