Even though their ickyness sends shivers through the spines of many a person, bugs are fascinating creatures...honest! Insects, spiders, and other creepy crawlies make up most of the animal life on earth.
Insects have been around for something like 350 million years. Many years before humans showed their faces. Humans appeared about 130,000 years ago.
With bugs being such a massive part of our world, you might as well learn more about them, and you never know, you might even grow to like them?
Alright, so you do not want to make friends with bugs. But you still might like to invite them to dinner – that is, if you are an adventurous eater! No being serious, there is a wealth of information at the click of a link here on NatureWatch. The BBC's Springwatch, and AutumnWatch sites are fantastic, as are the others, so get that mouse clicking and start learning.
You do not have to like insects to appreciate them. But now that you can see how interesting and beautiful they can be, you may not be so quick to squish the next bug you see. Instead, get that camera out and send us a photograph.
Send in your photographs of birds and butterflies too. In-fact, send in your pictures of all things to do with nature. Whatever it is, let us have it. We LOVE it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Common Frog by Peter Berry

The Common Frog is the most widespread species in Europe. They prefer to be in cool, moist conditions under dense foliage where they prey on slugs, snails, worms and insects. They are found in gardens, fields and woods. They do not search for food in the water and do not feed during the mating period.
In their third year, frogs become sexually mature and in early spring they go to a suitable shallow pond or stream, which is usually where they were bred.
The males arrive first and attract females by emitting a low croaking sound. Taking to the water, the courtship is short as the male attaches himself to the female using the pads on the first digits of the fore legs. She begins to release up to 2,000 eggs and the male simultaneously releases his sperm over the eggs, which must fertilize them before the gelatinous coating swells to form a protective raft( frog spawn).

After 10-20 days, depending on the temperature, the black central egg develops into a tadpole with a yolk sac, which it digests for its initial nourishment.
After a few days, the mouth, external gills and eyes have formed and more normal feeding can begin on algae in the water.
At about five weeks old, the hind legs start to grow, as do the lungs, and the tadpole begins to swim to the surface of the water for air. Teeth have developed by now and it adds to its diet with insects and other tadpoles.
At around 10 weeks, the tail starts to be reduced and the fore legs start developing. Four weeks later the metamorphosis is almost complete and the froglet begins to spend time out of the water on rocks and plants. This time scale may be longer in cooler regions or if food is scarce.
From the large amount of eggs produced, only about one to two per cent make it through to adulthood. The total life span of a frog can be about seven to eight years.
Numbers of frogs have declined in recent years, mainly due to shrinking habitat due to drainage schemes and industrial farming methods. Frogs, as with most wildlife, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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