Wild Shanghai EP9: When bugs come out at night
A summer night is the perfect time for observing bugs. To do so, we went to a small forest near the outer-ring of Shanghai. With the help of an expert, we found a fantastic world of bugs. Strange-looking spiders, emerging cicadas, inchworms hanging from trees … does that sound interesting or terrifying? Let's find out.
蒙古寒蝉 Meimuna mongolica
This is one of the three most common cicada species in Shanghai. While not as large as the black cicada, it is much prettier. It is also the latest cicada to be about and can be active until September. The sound is typical as we call it 'zhi~liao~zhi~liao' in Chinese.
We saw the emergence of one this evening. The larvae of the cicadas live underground and when they mature, they climb high up the tree. Then they will squeeze from their outer shell and the wings will expand slowly, which can take about 1 hour. During this process, they are most vulnerable and can be eaten by predators.
斑衣蜡蝉 Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)
The spotted lanternfly is not a fly, but more closely related to the cicada. They have pointy mouth parts which can pierce the tree trunk and feed on the sugar sap of the plant. As they cannot digest all the sugar, they have to urinate from time to time. The liquid they excrete, so called honey dew, is sweet and sticky. Some insects like ants and bees are crazy about it. The spotted lanternfly, native here in China, is regarded as an invasive species in the United States and is causing a major ecological problem there.
扁锹 Giant stag beetle (Sterrognathus titanus)
This large beetle with distinguishing 'antlers' is popular with bug-lovers. The structure that resembles the antlers of a stag is actually the mandible or jaw of the bug. Only male bugs have these, and females look more like a normal bug. The 'antlers' are used for defense and fighting for mates. When two males are fighting, they will use the 'antlers' to try to push each other away and throw their rival out of the tree, to show their strength, just as stags do with their antlers.
少棘蜈蚣 Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
Centipedes are not insects. Insects only have six legs, while centipedes obviously have many more. The Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans is quite common in Shanghai. They are carnivorous and good hunters, prey on small animals from insects to frogs to even small mice. They are poisonous and use their venom when hunting. Being bitten by one is usually not lethal for human but can be very painful. They will not aggressively attack humans as we are not a favorite food. Being bitten is usually caused by incorrect contact, such as trying to hit them away or catch them with bare hands.
中华半蛛蜂 Hemipepsis sinensis
These beautiful wasps have iridescent blue wings and an orange body and legs. The species belong to the spider wasps. The spider wasps, as indicated by the name, hunt spiders but the adult wasps are vegetarian. They catch the spiders only for breeding purposes. The wasps will lay eggs on the spider and when the larvae hatch, they will feed on the spider until mature.