Nature Connection #20 – Spring Nature Quiz

There is so much to learn about the natural world! It seems that the more I discover about nature, the less I realize I know. A great source of facts is The Natural Year: A Quiz Deck on Ecological Phenomena by Chris Hardman, published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc., Petaluma, CA. 

Check out the following questions to increase your knowledge of the natural world!

True or False?

1. Raindrops fall in only one shape.

2. Grasshopper eggs can take nine months to hatch.

3. Ladybugs are mild-mannered vegetarians.

1. False. Raindrops fall in two shapes – round and oval. The teardrop shape appears when a raindrop slides down a surface.

2. True. Female grasshoppers insert their fertilized egg pods underground. The eggs stay put through the winter, up to nine months, before hatching with the onset of warm weather.

3. Ladybugs, also called ladybird beetles (family Coccinellidae), are the primary predator of aphids. They also dine on other garden arthropods such as mealybugs and mites. In spring, female ladyugs lay 10 to 50 eggs daily, usually near aphid colonies that provide a food source for their larvae.

Q & A

Q1. Most baby birds are altricial. This means they are:
    a. noisy
    b. helpless
    c. precocious
    d. downy

ANSWER: b. Baby birds of most species are born completely helpless, without any feathers, and are unable to walk or eat by themselves. In some bird species, however, chicks hatch with a greater level of development and are able to leave the nest and walk shortly after hatching. These species include many ground-nesting birds, including sea- and shore-birds; examples include ducks, turkeys, gulls, terns, rails and grebes.

Q2. These insects divide tasks communally and can lift up to 20 times their body weight. What are they?

ANSWER: Ants. These social insects divide tasks among colony members so the colony survives – some look for food, some tend the young, some ward off intruders, etc. Ant colonies also functionas prime movers of soil, as well as food sources for birds and bears.

Q3. How do butterflies escape spiderwebs?

ANSWER: Butterfly wings are covered with colorful scales that look and feel like dust. These scalaes come off easily, helping the butterfly escape the sticky webs.

Q4. Which heats up more quickly, the ground or a body of water?

ANSWER: Solar radiation will heat up the ground more quickly than it will a body of water. A body of water will heat up more slowly, but once heated it will retain warmth longer. Solar heat causes water to evaporate from oceans, lakes, rivers, trees, and plants into the air.

Q5. What is a mycelium?

ANSWER: A mycelium is the underground web of a living fungus. You would never know the fungus was there but for the presence of mushrooms, which are the fruit and seeds of fungi that pop up above ground. A single mycelium can cover thousands of acres and be thousands of years old. Fungi do not need sunlight and do not makechlorophyll. Sometimes they grow on other living organizsms. They obtain nutrients from dead organic matter. As fungi consume rotting wood, they emit a soft bioluminescence that can be seen coming from leaf-covered ground on dark nights.

That’s enough for now, but stay tuned. In a few more weeks it will be time for more interesting facts as summer heats up!

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