Alien Invasion! Invasive Insect Species of Michigan and the Midwest
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Artist’s Statement: “Upon taking an entomology course at Kalamazoo College, my dislike and fear of bugs and insects transformed into a great fascination of the small creatures and the miniature world they inhabit. After all, insects compose 60% of all animals on the planet, and often times have a close relationship with humans, whether they are vectors of diseases, household pests, or important pollinators for farming. I found that, in looking closer, one can find the beauty in the smooth elytra guarding the wings of a beetle. One can find charm in the hairy little bodies of a bee, moth, or butterfly. Looking closer, one can see that antenna can vary from simple stick, to elaborate comb or club like appendage. Looking even closer, one can learn how a tiny arthropod can cause a tiny itch, a painful sting, or a deadly virus. In my work, I take a glimpse into this strange world of the insects, using pen to illustrate the intricate details of three invasive exotic species found in the Midwest. The first is the Asian Longhorn beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (Motschulsky), which was introduced in New York City, in 1996. The adult females deposit their eggs into bark of hardwood trees, and the larva then feed on the vascular tissue. Next, the Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis (Fairmaire), has had a great impact on ash trees here in Michigan, killing tens of millions of trees throughout the state since its introduction to the Detroit area in the 1990’s. The larva of this beetle also feed on the nutrient-rich vascular tissue beneath the bark of the trees. Lastly, the well known Gypsy Moth, Lymantria dispar (Linnaeus), is a European native that has been in the United States since 1869. The caterpillar feeds on leaves of numerous different host trees, causing large amounts of defoliation. With the presentation of the bugs next to the detailed pen drawings, my hope is to depict how these little “aliens” can have a huge effect on the environment they invade.”
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