These butterflies are orange and black. Their larvae are yellow, black and white striped. The larvae, or caterpillars, feed on milkweed. Milkweed has a toxin in it that makes the adult butterfly poisonous to birds that eat them.
Monarchs are migratory and will fly from north to south in the autumn and then from south to north during the spring. They can be seen overwintering in trees in California and Mexico.
Tiger swallowtails are a type of butterfly. Swallowtails usually have a tail at the end of each hind wing. These butterflies are yellow and black with some red and blue spots on their wings.
Dragonflies and damselflies are in the order Odonata. Dragonflies hold their wings out when they are at rest, while damselflies hold their wings up over their back. Odonates are wonderful to have in your backyard since they are predaceous and will feed on other insects. They actually capture their prey, what they eat, while flying. They have large eyes to view the prey with and also their head can turn almost all the way around.
Grasshoppers are very common and come in a variety of colors. They can be green, yellow, black, red or orange. They have large hind legs for jumping. Grasshoppers can create sound by rubbing their hind leg against their front wing. Grasshoppers feed on plants.
Crickets are closely related to grasshoppers. Crickets can make noise by rubbing their front wings together. Male crickets chirp to attract a female cricket to mate. There are different types of crickets you may find – they can be black, brown or whitish.
Mantids and Praying Mantis
Mantids are large insects that, in Texas, are usually green in color. They also can be brown, white, or even pink! The Praying Mantis is part of the mantid genus. There are some mantids that mimic flowers to help them capture prey. Mantids have large raptorial front legs, which they use to capture and hold prey. Mantids feed upon insects, but larger species sometimes eat lizards or even hummingbirds.
Walkingsticks have a name that gives away their body shape – they look like a stick. These insects use their bodies to blend into the plant they sit on to avoid being eaten by birds or other predators. Walkingsticks feed on leaves and shrubs. Species found in the United States range from 2-7 inches in length. There are species in the tropics that can reach 1 foot in length!
Beetles are in the order Coleoptera. This is the largest order of insects with over 80,000 known species. Beetles have hardened front wings called elytra. This hardened wing helps to protect the hind wings, which are soft and membranous. The hind wings are what the beetle uses to fly.
Ladybugs are a type of beetle. Usually, ladybugs are red with black spots but they can also be orange with black spots or black with red spots. Ladybugs sometimes don’t have any spots at all! These beetles are good to have in your yard. They will eat aphids, an insect that sucks juices out of plants. Ladybugs are actually sold for people to place in their gardens as a natural control of insects.
The ancient Egyptians worshiped scarab beetles. These beetles will locate a pile of dung and create a ball out of it. They will roll the dung ball to a nest they built and lay an egg on it. When the egg hatches, the larvae that emerge will eat the dung ball. Egyptians saw this as a symbol of rebirth, and so worshiped the dung beetle.
Orb Weaver Spiders
These are the gardens that are typically found in backyards. Some of these spiders can get fairly large. Orb weavers spin a web out of silk that has a ladder shape down the center. Spiders feed on insects and other arthropods. They will consume pest insects around your home, so they are good to keep around. Many people believe that it is good luck to have spiders in their homes.