Have You Seen the Speedy Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle?

Like a Tiny Jewel:

When I looked out of the garage door this afternoon I spotted what looked like a shiny emerald streaking across the blacktop. On closer Inspection I discovered it was an iridescent green tiger beetle.

Notice the white spots on the hard outer wing covers (elytra). There are three spots on each side of the beetle.

This beetle has the scientific name of Cicindela sexguttata. When translated from the Latin it means the beetle has six spots on it.

 

Color Changing:

 

One of the amazing things about this beetle is its ability to shift colors according to the angle of the sunlight that hits its wings. Below you can see it in a more bluish color. It ranges from green, to purple and blue.

My! What Big Eyes You Have! “The better to see you, my dear!”

One of the interesting features of this beetle is that they have large compound eyes adapted for capturing movement. Notice that the eyes are even wider than the thorax of the beetle.  With these they can quickly identify their prey and pursue it on their long nimble legs designed for speed.

Wow! That’s Fast!

One characteristic that sets these beetles into a category all their own is their speed. This little beetle can scurry across the ground at a rate that it can cover 125 times its body length in a single second. If I could do that I would be able to win in the Olympic running events! Not only can they run quickly, they can also fly.

My, What Big Teeth You Have! “The better to eat you, my dear!”

Notice the large front white mandibles. They are like curved swords with tiny sharp daggers along their edges. 

With these long mandibles the tiger beetle can quickly subdue their prey. Not only can they pierce and grab the creatures they pursue, they can also tear it up into tiny pieces to be swallowed. Note: Some of these beetles can even get your attention by biting you when you try to pick them up, if you can catch them as they speed by.

Let’s Get The Digestion Started Early!

Not only do these beetles break apart their prey, they also spit out a digestive juice onto their food before they swallow it. This actually begins the digestion process so it won’t take so long to get the nutrients into their energy supply.

If You See Me, Let Me Be!

These beetles are not your enemy! Gardeners are fond of these creatures since they reduce the amount of harmful insects, spiders and other creatures that creep into their gardens. Some of their favorite food includes caterpillars of moths and other types of beetles that eat up the leaves and fruit of you garden. They spend the daylight hours zipping around looking for invaders to consume.

You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby…………Not!!!

One of the most interesting things about these beetles is how they begin their five year life span. After emerging from their eggs the larvae dig deep vertical pits in which to hide. These can range from 8″ to about three feet in depth. The larvae are kind of shaped like an “S”. Their heads are very large, in fact they completely cover the tops of the holes in their vertical shafts. The next part is my favorite!

Jack-In-The Box:

When I was a child I was startled when I first saw a Jack-In-The- Box. When It popped out after the music stopped I was shocked by its quick emergence. In a similar way, the beetle larvae of the tiger beetles sit inside their tubes waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. When they do the larvae quickly pop out and snatch their prey with enormous mandibles. They then pull it down into their deep pit homes to consume at their leisure. The larvae can spend up to a year in these pits until they get fat enough to go into their pupa stage for an amazing transformation into an adult insect that usually emerges in the Spring of the year.

Ecologically Important!:

As you think about the many creatures you see around you it is not long before you see how important they all are to other organisms. Though these beetles eat many other types of insects and spiders, they also are the food of other creatures. As adults there are few creatures fast enough to catch them. I really had to be quick to catch the one I found for closer inspection.They are occasionally captured by spiders in their webs and also by birds. In their larva stage they are often dug up by skunks, moles, grackles, and sandpipers. Beetles are very high in protein needed by the organisms that eat them.

By Design:

When we think further about the whole situation we can clearly see a pattern of an Intelligent Designer. When God created each creature He had a purpose in their introduction to the environment. Each creature is part of a bigger plan. They are all inter-related. Think of the complex food webs that exist around you. If any one part were removed it would cause chaos in the whole system.

Get Out Your Binoculars!

In one of the interesting articles I read about these beetles was one that shared some tips for observing them feed. I was surprised to learn that they recommended using binoculars and sitting near a sandy pathway. Once you spot a tiger beetle scurrying along back off about 10 to 20 feet and use your binoculars to watch it. It will soon slow down when not threatened by your presence and begin its natural feeding process. In this way you can see it capture its prey. They seem to more plentiful in areas with sandy soil such as along pathways and beaches. Some species actually prefer the sandy beaches along the shore line of the ocean and lakes, rivers and streams. Interestingly, if you try this you will probably notice that the beetles tend to take flight when you get too close. When they land they usually face back to where you are standing. After you stand still for a little while they do not feel threatened. In this manner you can more likely observe their natural behaviors.

 

If you want to read more about this you can check out the ASU website and read the article How to Observe Tiger Beetles. It’s a good read.

How to Make an Origami Quadra-Sphere

Discovering New Forms:

This past week I have been experimenting with several methods for forming geo-forms from paper. While fooling around with the paper I came up with a new way to make a sphere. Each base unit has four arms for attachment, thus the “Quadra” name.

 

Above is a picture of a space station made with seven spheres and connectors.

 

Above you can see the base spheres used for the project.

 

Let’s Learn How to Fold the Base Units for Constructing a Sphere:

For each sphere you will need at least two sheets of colored copy paper (you could also use white).

Next you will fold the paper top down to the bottom.

Next fold the right side to the left quartering the sheet of paper.

 

Cut off the extra end piece to form rectangles. Then cut in half to

get four squares from each sheet of paper.

 

Now that you have the squares let’s turn them into base units.

Begin by X-ing one side of the paper. Then flip it over and fold a cross in the center of the paper to form the water-balloon base’

 

Lay the fold on its side with the pointed end down. Then fold up the bottom to the middle of the top and crease it well.

Next, open the fold and pinch the four corners so it forms a mini table top.

Then depress the middle while squeezing the sides to sink fold the center.

 

Now you have your base unit., we will make six of these before the gluing part.

Now let’s do the gluing:

Place glue on just the small triangle region of the star points like this.

Then add another unit like the following:

Keep adding units in this same fashion until all the points are covered.

Want to Go to a Grander Scale?

After making several spheres you may want to create a larger sculpture. To do this you will need connector units. These are easy to make by just folding a square of paper into a inverted water balloon base. These slide right into the slots of the ends of the sides of the spheres.

You can vary the sizes of the squares used to make the connectors for different looks.

Add as many spheres as you like to make long chains or larger spherical constructions.

 

Consider the Design.

Whenever I see designs in nature I am reminded that each design needs a designer. I find it hard to believe that this is all by chance. It seems more logical to assume that a powerful, wise, careful, Designer created all things.

We are currently studying the design structure of atoms in my class at school, and have noticed each element follows a certain pattern to form the basic units of the structure of the element. Even though we can’t see these microscopic units we can use models to show how they are constructed using Bohr models and other atomic models. As you construct your own forms remember how complex the designs of our Maker are seen all around us. It takes a lot of wisdom and power to create things from nothing.

The very observable designs in Creation demand a Creator. I hope you know Him as I do. He has plans for your life and future.

Colossians 1: 16-17

“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through Him and form Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”