For example, in 1848, hordes of Mormon crickets invaded Utah fields, threatening to destroy all of the crops in their path. Flocks of seagulls came seemingly magically from the heavens after intense prayers to devoured all of the insects, saving the crops for the pioneers. The Mormon pioneers erected a monument to tme "miracle of the gulls" to commemorate the event and they are now protected as the state bird. In addition, the differential grasshopper completely devestated the crops of the Great Plains region a generation ago, leaving only barren fields and hopeless farmers behind.
Anabrus simplex Melanoplus differentialis
saltgrass zone and also in the higher desert elevations where sage brush and grasses are common. Plants typical of the the saline plains are the tall greasewood shrub (Sarcobatus vermiculatus), the shorter shadscale shrubs (Atriplex confertifolia), alkali dropseed (sporobolus airoides), and green weeds like wild barley, peppergrass, and the incessant cheat grass. The insects tend to frequent these areas because there is nutritious green food available and also they can easily hide in the dense shrubs. They also prefer these drier areas because they deposit their eggs into burrows in the ground for hatching in the spring.
Where will you find them?
How do they fit into the GSL food web?
Although we are not sure
which species are abundantly found on the GSL playa, some possibile
species are C. willistoni, C. nevadica, C. togata, C. circumpicta and
marginata. Generally, the tigerbeetle will stay about two to three
feet in front of any moving threat so they are very difficult to catch
and even more difficult to see closely. One of the unique protective
behaviors of the larvae is that they burrow themselves into the ground
where they stay just near enough to the surface to snatch up any prey that
may be unfortunate enough to pass over the hole. Also, adults
will bury themselves under the soil to escape predators and also unfavorable
weather, hot and dry or cold and wet. Tigerbeetles hibernating beneath
the soil during the cold winter months and emerge with warmer conditions
Habitat typical of the tigerbeetle.
avocet and the snowy
plover. Surprisingly, other carnivorous mammals like the badger
and fox eat them, as well. Unfortunately, the greatest predator to
the tigerbeetle is the human and the off-road vehicle. These two
things tend to disturb both the soil and habitat, thereby killing many
pupae, larvae and adults. (As mentioned above, the tigerbeetle feeds
on smaller insects like ants and other arthopods.)
2. Johnson and Rawley. 1974. The Great Salt Lake Population Ecology. Utah Dept. of Natural Resources. 74-13.
3. Kaston, B.J. 1978. How to know the spiders, third edition. WCB/McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA, USA.
4. Little, V.A. 1963. General and Applied Entomology. Harper and Row, New York, NY, USA.
5. Nieuwenhuys, Ed. 1998. Argiopes from the USA. http://www.xs4all.nl/~ednieuw/Spiders/ArgiopesUS/Argiopes_USA.html (20 Nov. 1999)
6. Rawley, E. 1980. Great Salt Lake: A scientific, historical and economic overview. Utah Dept. of Natural Resources. 116.
7. Spangler, J. 1991. "Spiders flock to marina at Great Salt Lake for feasts of brine flies". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, UT.
8. Wardle, R.A. 1936. General Entomolgy. Maple Press Co, York, PA, USA.
9. Wharton, T. 1992. "Flies draw
shore birds to Great Salt Lake". Salt Lake Tribune. C8.