Label: Insects

August 31, 2011









For the past twenty years, a rare group of spiders in Britain have been in danger of becoming extinct. Their natural habitat had become endangered due to the development of towns and the conversion of their environment to farm land. These beautiful spiders are called ladybird spiders in England – because the males have bright red bodies with 4 big black spots on them (much like the insect that we call the ladybug here in the U.S).









When British wildlife experts realized their local population had dwindled to just 56 spiders, they realized it was time to find them a new home! They started by collecting the spiders and allowing them to mate in captivity, so that their numbers could grow. Now, they’ve started introducing the spiders back into the wild. They’ve placed the spiders in a site that’s already home to 240 other species of spiders and hundreds of other insects. What’s interesting is that they’ve introduced the ladybird spiders to this area by placing them in recycled plastic bottles! These bottles are filled with heather and moss to resemble the spiders’ past environment and when the spider is ready to move out, it can crawl out of the bottle and find a suitable new home. Here’s hoping their group gets bigger and we get to see many more of these beautiful spiders in the future!

 Would YOU like to see one? I would!


Read lots more about spiders in these Seymour Simon books:

  Animals Nobody Loves








Photo Credits:

Image 1: Maarten Bos/Flickr 

Image 2: Ian Hughes 




Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Conservation, Insects, Spiders   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 24, 2011

I’ve been writing all summer about all the magnificent wild animals that I’ve seen simply by getting outdoors and exploring - spotting a red fox leaping across a road, a shy lynx slipping into the shadows, a bald eagle soaring over the lake, a very grouchy (and big!) snapping turtle, and a delicate tiger moth.

Here is what some of you shared this week about your interesting summer encounters with nature and its wild creatures:

Marissa, who is a regular reader and commenter on this blog, wrote that she really loves pythons, which are the longest snakes in the world.

"I went to a zoo and found a 20 foot long, 250 pound Burmese Python! They feed it 10 pound rabbits and when they feed it they use police shields! It’s that big!" 

On a completely different note, Jennifer, a teacher in Johnson City, NY, wrote about a summer adventure that she had with her twins, Ben and Anna.


"So cool that you released your BUTTERFLIES book yesterday…That’s when the Monarch caterpillar that we found at the Rail Trail in Vestal came out of its chrysalis and turned into a butterfly on the same day! We were so excited! We let it go this morning and it flew away… so beautiful and graceful!" 


What did YOU see as you explored the outdoors this summer? Press the "Ask Seymour Simon" button to send me a note, or click on "Send us Photos/Video" link at the very top of the homepage to send me a picture. We will publish stories about your summer vacation science adventures for the next few weeks, so write in now!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 23, 2011

Well, it’s not officially Butterfly Day, but we have declared it here at, because today is the publication day of his beautiful new book, BUTTERFLIES.

One of the reasons I love butterflies and moths so much is that, unlike other wild animals, you can see them right in your own yard, park, or vacant lot! Next time you head outside early in the morning, look and see if there is something that looks like a piece of dead leaf stuck to one of your window screens. If you look closely, you will probably discover it is a cleverly disguised, slumbering moth!

We have created lots of great support materials for BUTTERFLIES. Educators and parents can go to their section of the site and download a free Teacher Guide with lots of supplementary information and activities, as well as a guide to starting your own butterfly garden.

Kids - click here to download your own Butterfly Observation Log, and record your sightings like a real lepidopterologist (that’s a scientist who studies butterflies).

Seymour has also blogged a lot this year about butterflies, because as he often says, his "favorite animal" is whichever one he is writing about at the time! You can read all the butterfly posts here.

Celebrate "Butterfly Day" with us by getting outside and seeing these beautiful creatures for yourself!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animal Books, Butterflies, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 23, 2011

Many photographers like to shoot macro (very close up) photographs of insects because the macro camera lens reveals details of alien-looking creatures that we can’t see with our own eyes. A Polish photographer named Miroslaw Swietek goes even further. He goes into the forest in the early morning and photographs the insects when they are covered with dew. Through the camera lens, the drops of water make the insects look as though they are covered with diamonds.


This is a photograph of a dragonfly. Look at how the water drops magnify the lenses in its compound eyes! (click here to read another one of my posts if you want to understand how compound eyes work).


LiveScience interviewed Swietek about how he takes these amazing photographs, and he said that the time of day makes it easier. "That early in the morning, insects are very sleepy so the camera doesn’t disturb them."


If you would like to see more of these amazing images, click here to go to the LiveScience website , where they have a slideshow of Miroslaw Swietek’s  "jeweled" insect photographs.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Cool Photo, Summer Vacation Science, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 4, 2011

It is Monday, so it’s time for SUMMER VACATION SCIENCE!

I have been watching my morning glory vine (the kind that gets blue, trumpet-shaped flowers in September) gradually creep up the light pole in my front garden. Although it seems almost too delicate to survive, the vine is actually quite strong, clinging onto the wire through heavy rain and windstorms. 


This morning, when I went outside, I saw what I thought was a dead leaf clinging to my vine. I went over to remove it, only to discover that it was a moth! We searched online and discovered that it was a Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecatus). 

Click here to learn more about the butterflies and moths that you can observe right outside your door, and learn how to tell the difference.

Happy July 4th to all my American readers! 



 From now through Labor Day, we will publish various nature projects. The goal is to get kids outdoors, exploring and enjoying the world around them. Check back here throughout the summer for new installments of Summer Vacation Science.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 20, 2011

Good morning, campers! It’s time for SUMMER VACATION SCIENCE!

It’s still not too late to plant, and this week we are talking butterfly gardens. Would you like to have a special habitat, right in your own yard or nearby lot, where butterflies, moths and hummingbirds visit regularly and return?

Click here to download the full project guide, which has everything from how to find the right plants, how to plant them, and what butterflies need to thrive and return. Get started today and create your own, personal, very unique butterfly garden!


This summer, our goal is to get kids outdoors, exploring and enjoying the world around them. Check back here throughout the summer for new installments of Summer Vacation Science.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Summer Vacation Science, Insects, Gardening   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 17, 2011

I took a walk today in Great Falls National Park, along the Potomac River in Virginia. The falls are really beautiful, and the trails are wooded and shady, but the best part, for me anyway, was spotting all the wild animals.



This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) feeds at the water’s edge, using its long legs to wade through the water, spearing small fish and frogs with its long, sharp bill. 



You can clearly see the compound eye of this beautiful Dragonfly (an insect belonging to the order Odonata), which was perched in the foliage high above the falls. You usually find dragonflies near the water, because their larvae, called "nymphs" live in the water. These insects are valuable predators (valuable to humans, at least) because they eat mosquitoes.


My grandson Ben Simon took this great photograph of a wolf spider, which was hiding inside a crack of an old stump. Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae, from the Ancient Greek word "λύκος" meaning "wolf". The blue and white mass, which almost looks like a piece of jewelry, are actually all her babies - dozens of tiny wolf spiders, riding on her back!


Have you taken a walk in the outdoors this week? If not, get outside and keep your eyes peeled. There are fascinating wild creatures all around you.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, birds, Summer Vacation Science, Seymour Photographs, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2011

This week I received letters from Chonlatorn S. and Alejandro D., both students at Rue Elementary School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They had just read my book, ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, and they were writing to defend the octopus, coyote, and other animals they think should not be in this book because they are not dangerous to humans. Chanlatorn wrote: "When skunks are in danger they will spray on you. They don’t bite you." I agree with both of these readers that no one needs to be afraid of these animals. In fact, that is one of the reasons I wrote the book!

Let me tell you about two Texas students I met last month who really go to extraordinary lengths to teach other students about "animals that nobody loves." Courtney (14) and Erik (12) are homeschooled, and I met them when they came to one of my presentations at a local school. This sister and brother work with an entomologist (pronounced en-toh-MAH-loh-gist, a scientist who specializes in the study of insects) and have started their own business, called NOT SO CREEPY CRITTERS. 












Courtney and Erik, pictured above, told me that this all started because they wanted to help other kids get over feelings of arachnophobia (ah-RACK-no-FO-bia, meaning "fear of spiders"). Spiders do much more good than harm, eating insects that damage crops and other plants. And as Courtney and Erik have learned, some of them even make interesting pets!

This brother and sister team do presentations in classrooms and at kid events, and they introduce their audience to a wide variety of "not so creepy creatures." Their traveling menagerie of live creatures includes 4 colorful tarantulas, 2 different scorpion species, Bearded Dragon, centipede, a snake, Leopard Gecko, Blue-Tongued Skink, Peppered Roaches and Madagascar Hissing Roaches! Last summer they wrote a book, and they are working hard to continue growing their business. They tell me that fainting goats and chickens are next on their list!

Courtney and Eric are well-mannered, dedicated defenders of creepy critters, and they have also built a very informative and interesting website. Check out the section called Arachnids for lots of fascinating spider photographs, and Critter Facts, where you are challenged to decide whether a statement is a fact, or simply an opinion.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, School Visits, Kids comments, Insects, Spiders, Facts and Fables   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 25, 2011


Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is actually a microphotograph (photographs of very tiny things that can only be seen through a microscrope).

You are looking directly into the face of a Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea). These large (up to 3-inchs long), brightly colored dragonflies are often found near ponds or rivers, where they breed. They also travel quite widely - you may see one in your garden - and they seem to be curious, often flying close to you and hovering.

Can you spot the dragonfly’s eyes are in this picture? The eyes are actually the two biggest things in this photograph - the two large, grayish ovals below the yellow are the dragonfly’s compound eyes. These two main eyes actually contain up to 30,000 (that’s right, thirty-thousand!) tinier eyes, which turn the dragonfly into a born predator. These eyes are like balls, and allow the dragonfly to spot movement all around it, so much so that it has 360-degree vision! This helps the dragonfly sense even the tiniest movement, so that it can feed on insects in the air all around it.


Photo Credit: André Karwath/Wikimedia

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo, Insects, Photography   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 17, 2011



I received this charming note from a San Antonio 4th grader named Alicia. She had been reading my book BIG BUGS, and did this drawing on which she wrote that the insect was supposed to be a cricket, but “I don’t know how to draw a cricket.”

Actually, Alicia, you’ve made a pretty good start. Although we casually refer to “bugs,” bugs actually include two different species – insects and spiders (Arachnids). All insects have 6 legs, but spiders have 8 legs (they are not insects). A cricket is an insect, and you have definitely drawn an insect.

To make it look even more like a cricket, you could give it very long back legs, as you see in this photograph. Crickets use their four front legs for walking, and their two back legs are long and strong, so that they can make big leaps.

The very regular chirping of crickets is a common night sound in many places. As the temperature drops, their singing becomes slower and the pitch of the chirp gets lower. Some people use the chirp rate of crickets to estimate the temperature. I wrote about this in my book ANIMAL FACT, ANIMAL FABLE. Crickets are pretty interesting insects!














Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, School Visits, Kids comments, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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