National Wildlife Week: Thursday’s Tiny Treasures Think You’re The “Creepy” One

It’s National Wildlife Week, and we hope today’s post won’t make you too scared to look under that rock in your yard. There may be creepy crawlies (a.k.a invertebrates) living underneath, but believe me, they are more scared of you.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature documents more than 1,740,000 plant and animal species on our planet. Creeping and crawling invertebrates make up 1,305,250 of the total. That’s about 75 percent of all known life on earth!

It’s A Generational Thing

Monarch butterflies are known for their long migration from Mexico and Canada and back, but did you know that most monarchs don’t even make the entire trip? Monarchs that winter in Mexico start their migration to the southern United States during early spring.

During their rest stop, they have baby butterflies and die. Their offspring then move further north, breed, and die as well within only a few weeks. The cycle continues until the fall, when the last generation of monarchs makes the journey from Canada and the states all the way to Mexico—without ever having done this trip before.

Beetle redbug

Friends In Garden Places

Another beautiful insect that is fun to watch is the ladybug, a gardener’s true friend. Lady Beetles (also called ladybugs) have a voracious appetite and their meal of choice is the aphid. Aphids are a major pest to farms and gardens because they eat sap from plants and crops. Lady Beetles are a natural, organic form of pest management—they eliminate aphids without causing any damage to other wildlife.

A Garden Friend Who Lost Its Way

Earthworms are cherished by gardeners and farmers, but not all worms are good. The last retreat of the Ice Age eliminated earthworms from the Great Lakes region, thus the forest ecosystem evolved without worms. Today, invasive earthworms are eating up all the leaf litter and negatively impacting the ecology of Great Lakes forests and other forests across the United States.

Fun Facts

There are invertebrates whose scientific names are inspired by Harrison Ford, Darth Vader and Stephen Colbert.

Slugs are hermaphrodites.

The rhinoceros beetle is the strongest animal on Earth and possesses the strength to lift objects 850 times its own weight. To put this statistic in context, that’s like me picking up something that weighs 93,500 pounds. Wildlife is amazing!

Now Get Moving!

With Wildlife Watch, learn what types of invertebrates live near you and share your sightings and creepy crawly stories online with us!

Read What Are Bugs Worth? and then try your hand at capturing their image with NWF’s photography tips. Speaking of photography, find for the perfect place to snap photos of insects with Nature Find, NWF’s online database of nature sites and events across the country. All you need is a zip code!

Video – How to watch for wildlife:


Popular Mechanics

Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Journey North

Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences