Vivid Dancer Damselfly – Nevada State Insect

“https://www.flickr.com/photos/zionnps/7463381724”

The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is yet another beneficial insect we have on display here in the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office. It’s a beautiful insect that inspired us to do a little research that encouraged us to be here writing a well-deserved blog about it.

On May 4, 2009, Governor Jim Gibbons signed the legislation naming The Vivid Dancer Damselfly the official state insect of the State of Nevada effective October 1, 2009.

The story is quite interesting about how this insect was ultimately chosen, we just googled “Nevada State Insect” and there it was. Back in 2009 a fourth-grade class taught by Mr. David R. Slater at John R. Beatty Elementary School offered their essay in testimony before the State Committee on Government Affairs in Carson City. This class was one of the 74 that had participated in the contest to nominate an insect found in Nevada, to be our Nevada State Insect, this class won the contest:

“To participate in the contest, the classes were required to submit a one-page, research-based essay supporting the nomination of an insect found in Nevada, including the pupils’ rationale for why that insect would be a good symbol for the State of Nevada.”

What we learned was that these students at John R. Beatty Elementary School had selected the Argia Vivida, the Vivid Dancer Damselfly for reasons we found fascinating. In brief we will list them:

  • Its colors. The adult male is rich blue with clear wings that appear silver when rapidly beating in the sunlight. Silver and Blue are our state colors.
  • The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is abundant in all four regions of our state. Its habitat is the springs and ponds of Nevada. The students felt it was important that the state insect not have limited range or be endangered. That it should represent and prosper throughout the entire state.
  • That it is helpful to humans. It preys upon mosquitos, flies, aphids and other pests. It serves Nevadans by contributing to our economy and quality of life.
  • Of all the state insects, Nevada is the only state that would have the Damselfly. They felt the selection of the Vivid Dancer would reinforce Nevada’s status as being unique among the States.

We here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control admire the careful thought that was involved in their decision to nominate the Vivid Dancer Damselfly as we take that same careful thought in how we provide our services to our customers.

The Vivid Dancer Damselfly is abundant near springs and ponds throughout Nevada, with their populations peaking in late August. This is the time to observe them in all their glory. Vivid Dancers as well as other species of damselflies are beautiful, beneficial predators as they help control populations of harmful insects. Adults will consume large quantities of other insects such as flies, mosquitos and moths and some eat beetles and caterpillars. The ecological importance of Damselflies, as well as Dragonflies, is that they can be key indicators of different biotypes and habitats. They have been used as tools to assess the biological health of aquatic habitats and to detect levels of heavy metals such as mercury. They are a very important group of insects in stream and pond ecosystems and are often used as an indicator whether water is clean or polluted. The quality of the environment can be monitored by damselflies as their presence is strongly affected by different factors such as water flow, pollution and vegetation. The destruction and alteration of freshwater habitats are the greatest threats to damselfly species. Without clean water damselflies are unable to breed. They are also considered model organisms to assess the effects of global climate change.

“One way to conserve them is by avoiding indiscriminate use of pesticides.”

Leave pest control to the professionals here at Truckee Meadows Pest Control, we have environmentally responsible solutions for your pest control needs. Truckee Meadows Pest Control 775-332-0604 Control is what it’s all about.

The Turantula Hawk – It’s a Wasp

The Tarantula Hawk is not often seen here locally, but they are in fact here, in our area, including tarantulas! There have been more sightings of these wasps over the last few years. Here at the Truckee Meadows Pest Control office there is a Tarantula Hawk on display, along with other native insects that have been collected.

The Tarantula Hawk is a spider wasp and it has the second most painful sting in the world, next to the Bullet Ant. It is highly unlikely you will ever get stung by one, unless perhaps you step on one, but if you do get stung, lie down and scream! At least that is what Justin O. Schmidt, Entomologist and Author of The Sting of the Wild: The Story of the Man Who Got Stung for Science, likes to say at his speaking engagements.  In his book he describes the sting, stating that “The pain is so debilitating and excruciating that the victim is at risk of further injury by tripping in a hole or over an object in the path and then falling onto a cactus or into a barbed-wire fence. Such is the sting pain that almost nobody can maintain normal coordination or cognitive control to prevent accidental injury. Screaming is satisfying and helps reduce attention to the pain of the sting.” On the more fortunate side, the pain only lasts a few minutes unlike the bullet ant that can last quite a few hours. Most surprisingly, regarding the tarantula hawk, it is docile. It is a great pollinator especially for milkweed, in particularly the desert or rush milkweed. The Tarantula Hawk drinks its nectar, but while doing so, its legs fit neatly inside the grooves of the flower and the bundles of pollen called pollinia get caught on the legs. When the Tarantula Hawk flies to another milkweed the pollen is transferred, and the plant is then pollinated. Milkweed is a larval food source for monarch and queen butterfly larvae. Other than seemingly managing the tarantula population, the Tarantula Hawk is beneficial in that it assists in the monarch and queen butterfly survival.

The Tarantula Hawk, to say the least, is fascinating! It is one of the largest wasp species, reaching up to 2 ½-inches. They have a shiny metallic blue-black body with bright yellow-orange wings. It is hard to miss when it is feeding on the nectar of flowers or the juice of berries in the garden, of course you wouldn’t miss it either if you are fortunate to see a tarantula hawk dragging an enormous tarantula across the ground. The Tarantula Hawk got its name exactly for that reason, this solitary spider wasp has no fear, in fact there are no known real predators of the Tarantula Hawk. Only female Tarantula Hawks can sting, and her stinger is formidable, commonly 1/3 inch long.  The males do not hunt so the female will do all the work, hunting the tarantulas to lay her individual eggs throughout the season. She carefully battles with the  tarantula and stings it between the leg base and sternum, the plate between all the legs. Depending on the size of the tarantula she may sting it more than once. Within two seconds, the tarantula is paralyzed, she then drags the enormous tarantula back to a nest burrow, either her own, but most of the time it is the tarantulas burrow. She is so powerful, she can and will drag the Tarantula a very long distance if it is necessary. Once in the burrow she will lay her solitary egg on the spider’s abdomen, she will then fill the tunnel with dirt and seal it. The egg will hatch in a few days and this single larva will pierce the abdomen to feed off the live paralyzed tarantula. It will avoid the primary organs to keep the spider alive for a longer period. Over the course of 20-25 days the larvae will grow and molt to become a fifth instar larvae. The tarantula is still alive, all that’s left is its heart, nervous system and exoskeleton, but now the fifth instar larvae will consume the rest of the tarantula and once the food is exhausted the instar will cocoon itself and pupate. If this happens in early spring, it will emerge as an adult in a few weeks, otherwise it will remain to overwinter and emerge in the following spring.

It’s unlikely you will be calling Truckee Meadows Pest Control about an issue with Tarantula Hawks but please give Truckee Meadows Pest Control a call at 775-332-0604 if you are having any wasp or bee issues as flying stinging insects can cause harm to you, your loved ones and your pets.