Posts Tagged With: free coloring pages

California Newts Rock! 10 Fast Facts For Newt Lovers

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Taricha torosa!  The gentle California Newt  

They are adorable, they are orange, and they’ll kill you if you eat them!  Who couldn’t love a California newt?  Over the years we have noticed some interesting things about them, like how they always seem to be moving in a purposeful direction, and on rare occasions, we have even come upon several of them all balled-up together in a stream. Newt balls! Delightful!  It wasn’t until recently that we delved more deeply into learning about these special creatures that are found mainly in California, on the coastline, and in the Sierra Nevada.  Captain asked many questions and we discovered some remarkable things about our little orange friends that we would like to share.  Most kids love newts and we invite you to read on for 10 fast facts.  You can also find free coloring pages of California newts, and other cool creatures, on the USGS site by clicking here.

Fast Fact 1. California newts are poisonous!  There are glands in their skin that secrete a potent neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, which is hundreds of times more poisonous than cyanide.  It is the same toxin found in pufferfish and harlequin frogs, and one drop can kill up to 7,000 mice.  The neurotoxin is strong enough to kill humans, but they are only dangerous if ingested.

Fast Fact 2. Due to their toxicity, California newts have few natural predators, although garter snakes, and some other species, have developed a resistance to tetrodotoxin.

Fast Fact 3. California newts eat earthworms, snails, slugs, bloodworms, mosquito larvae and other invertebrates.

Fast Fact 4. They reproduce between December and early May.  The adult newts will return to the pool in which they hatched.  This “homing instinct” is probably why they seem to be moving with purpose.  Cool!  The “ball of newts” is actually several males wrapped around a female during the mating process.

Fast Fact 5. When a female releases her egg mass, it will have between 7 and 30 eggs.  The egg masses attach to stream plant roots or rocky crevices.

Fast Fact 6. California newts make sounds that humans can’t hear, unless under special conditions, like in a lab or aquarium environment. They whistle, squeak and click to tell other newts that this is “their territory”, to attract mates, or to warn predators that they are poisonous.

Fast Fact 7. These newts can live up to 20 years!

Fast Fact 8. California newts grow to be about 3-8″ in length.

Fast Fact 9. When threatened, a newt will take a sway backed position and close its eyes.  It will extend its limbs to the side and hold its tail straight out in warning.

Fast Fact 10. California newts are currently a California Special Concern Species due to population reduction.  Human habitation and invasive species are the biggest contributors to the reduction. We hope that if you read about them here, or elsewhere, you will encourage others to do so as well so that they are not overlooked.

There are many more things to learn and I encourage you to check out Sierra Nevada Natural History by Tracy I. Storer and Robert L. Usinger, and, for lots of great photos, visit californiaherps.com.  Thanks for reading!

Good thoughts, Karen & Co!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Fabulous Ladybug Facts For Budding Entomologists!

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I can’t help myself but to forever photograph the ladybugs of Sequoia National Forest!

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The scientific name for ladybug is Coccinellidae. Sounds romantic, eh? 

Ladybugs are truly beautiful, beneficial, and deserving of some major praise as we polish up the house, shake out our rugs, and open our hearts to spring.  Okay, I can’t promise that I am going to get the windows washed anytime soon, but I can say that I might just be forgiven if I am caught bumbling around in the forest with a camera looking for more of these beauties!

My 5 year old loves ladybugs, as so many kids do, and we adults could spare a few moments to give a nod, and learn a bit about these lovelies as well.  Here are some fabulous ladybug facts for all of us insect-lovers! At the bottom of the page are links to my sources as well as links to some fun ladybug crafts and coloring pages for the kids.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do and thanks for reading on!

1. There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world.

2. Ladybugs can have spots, stripes, or no markings at all, and come  in many different colors. The most familiar ladybug in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug.  They have 6 short legs.

3. Ladybugs breathe through openings on the sides of their bodies.

4. The seven-spotted lady bug is native to Europe.  They were brought to North America in the mid-1900’s to control aphid populations.

5. Ladybugs are also called “lady beetles” or “ladybird beetles”.  They get their name from European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests ate their crops.  The ladybugs came to the rescue, and the farmers called them “beetle of our Lady” which became shortened to lady beetle or ladybug.

6. Ladybugs (and aphids) were studied by NASA up in space (1999)!

7. A ladybug can retract its head into it’s body.

8. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime.  They eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. Farmers and gardeners love them!

9. In many cultures ladybugs are considered good luck.

10. A ladybug’s bright coloring tells predators that they will taste terrible. When threatened, ladybugs secrete an oily, yucky-tasking fluid from their leg joints.

11. Birds are the main predators of ladybugs, but frogs, wasps, spiders and dragonflies like to eat them too.

12. There are both male and female ladybugs and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart without a microscope, except that females are usually larger.

13. According to Alive and The Sierra Club, pesticides and GMO’s are threatening ladybugs.

14. Ladybugs are most active from spring to fall.  When it gets cold, they hibernate.

15. The ladybug is the official state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Tennessee!

Thanks for reading and happy spring to all!

Karen

Visit  The Ladybug Lady and Nat Geo Kids for more information and pics! Click here for more about entomology.

Click here for a cute ladybug terra cotta wind chime craft!

Click here for free printable insect coloring pages!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids!, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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