Dr. Bug answers questions you're itching to ask about mosquitoes

  • Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension field horticulture specialist Tamra Reall answers questions that are “bugging” youngsters.

Mama mosquitoes

Few insects are more hated than the pesky mosquito. One young reader wants to know why mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Unlike humans, mosquito babies, called larvae, don’t get a lot of care from their mothers, Reall says. Mama mosquitoes care for their baby mosquitoes by laying them in water because they cannot survive on dry land. They live only in water until they are adults. Mosquito larvae breathe air using siphon tubes.

Glowing scorpions

Kids in the know want to know why scorpions glow. “Use a UV light to make these cool arthropods glow,” says Reall. Scientists don’t yet know why they glow when a UV light shines on them. “Maybe you’ll be the future scientist to figure out this fun mystery,” she says.

Look but don’t touch

Butterflies are beautiful and it’s tempting to touch them. But should you? Probably not. Touching butterflies can make them lose the fine scales on their wings that they need to fly well. Take pictures or make a video of butterflies visiting flowers. “You can also visit a butterfly house and allow the butterflies to come to you. By holding very still, and with a bit of luck, a butterfly may mistake you for a flower and land on you!” Reall says.

What’s for dinner?

Caterpillars chew on plants until they become butterflies.

Butterflies crawl on flowers and slurp up a sugary drink of nectar using a straw-like mouth to drink their energy-filled dinner. “Butterflies are basically daytime flying moths,” Reall says. “Many moths drink the same food as butterflies, but at different times. It’s a great way to efficiently use and pollinate nature’s prettiest resources.”

For more tips on talking to kids about bugs or to send questions, follow @MUExtBugNGarden on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You may also contact MU Extension Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City at [email protected] or 816-833-TREE (816-833-8733), or on Facebook at facebook.com/AskaMissouriMasterGardener.

Photo available for this release:

Arizona bark scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light. Public domain photo by Balexan Bryce Alexander via Wikimedia Commons.

Writer: Linda Geist

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Tamra Reall

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