Early autumn presents opportune time to hunt for arthropods at LC

As the early autumn weather begins to cool down and the air gradually becomes less smokey, you may want to go on a couple more walks through LC’s campus and the surrounding natural areas  before the cold sets in. As it gets colder, the remaining arthropods will either die or go into hibernation in a sheltered place like in the foliage or in buildings. 

Arthropods include arachnids (spiders, mites and scorpions), hexapods (insects and springtails) and Myriapods (millipedes and centipedes). Some prime arthropod spotting locations include the trails that run through River View Natural Area and Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Those who would rather wander closer to home can examine the patch of flowering plants next to Copeland Residence Hall’s F-wing and the flowering plants around Great Plat Field, the area below the Reflecting Pool. One can also find certain arthropods on the academic quad and on the walls of the Olin Center for Physics and Chemistry, especially near the Olin Mezzanine. 

Any avid bug enthusiasts do not even have to look too far, as the easiest places to find arthropods at the moment are in residential buildings. Many types of flies and moths can be found in the dorms. River View and Tryon have a diversity of arthropods such as ants, flies, spiders and mosquitoes. The flowering plants next to Copeland and the ones around Great Plat Field are pollinated by flies, bees and sometimes even by the occasional butterfly. These flowering plants support many beetle and wasp populations as well. Brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) can be found around one of the trees in the area in front of Watzek. If you look at the right time of year, you can find many moths and some other arthropods clinging to the walls of Olin.

Spiders can generally be found in all dorms, but are particularly prevalent near the downhill exit of Copeland’s B wing. If you look along that wall, you should find some spiders. If you find a spider in your dorm, I urge you to leave it be. Spider populations are on the decline, which is not good for humans – unless you like being surrounded by a business (the formal terminology for swarm) of flies – or the rest of the ecosystem. Spiders are generally not dangerous to humans. The average number of spider bites you are likely to get across your lifetime is two, and there are no spiders that can accurately be considered deadly, as very few deaths from spider bites have been reported in recent history and death is extremely unlikely, especially for adults who receive medical aid. 

The “bugs” you see walking around in your dorms are generally completely harmless (unless you are a plant or an arthropod). If you want to remove insects from your dorm, I would encourage you to gently pick them up by the back (the thorax or abdomen).

If you are interested in finding new arthropods, here are two that you may be able to spot on campus this month. The green insect is a Fork-tailed Bush Katydid (Scudderia furcata), which I found in my dorm in Copeland at the end of October 2021. The fly depicted here seems to be in the subfamily Chironominae (either in the genus Tribe Pseudochironomini or Tribe Tanytarsini), which I believe I found in my dorm in Copeland in early September 2021. 

As winter approaches you will see less and less arthropods outside, and your best chance at finding arthropods might be to look in buildings such as your dorm. If you run out of all else, there are some interesting flies that live in drains and hang out in bathrooms around sinks. 

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