Insects, Spiders, Centipedes, Millipedes
Insects in the park consist of those that live on land and in water. Land insects include butterflies, moths, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, bees, flies, and more. Over 100 species of butterflies have been identified, and these include only those in the park between May and August. After three years of studying beetles, park staff have found over 50 different kinds, but these were only collected from sagebrush and pinyon-juniper habitats. Other insects have not been studied systematically, but a large and diverse assortment can be found.
Many insects live in streams, eating phytoplankton and providing food for fish. The most common aquatic insects are blackfly larvae, which look like little bowling pins attached to the underside of rocks; stonefly larvae with two tails; mayfly larvae with three tails; and caddisfly larvae which often make a casing about an inch long of small gravel, pine needles, or even snail shells.
Although 99% of insects are beneficial, some can cause problems. Bark beetles are tiny insects that move underneath the bark of the tree, creating interesting looking galleries. Their activity may cause the tree to die, affecting the health of entire forests. A caterpillar called a fall webworm will eat large number of leaves and make a silken web or tent in the branches of a host tree. It can damage the host tree, but is rarely responsible for killing it. Evidence of the fall webworm can be found along the Snake Creek drainage. For more information, see the Winter 2006 edition of The Midden.
Current insect projects in the park include:
A good website for more information about insects is: http://www.utahbugclub.org/
Scorpions also have eight legs, lack antennae and wings. Scorpions are a separate order from spiders and grouped in the Order Scorpiones because they possess a stinger. They also have elongated pincers called pedipalps in front of their four pairs of legs that they use to catch insects and spiders. It is unclear how many species of scorpions live in the park, but they do exist here and are often hard to spot since they are typically nocturnal. Scorpions rarely sting people, but use caution when lifting boards or stones and disturbing wood piles because they will sting quickly when disturbed.
Several close relatives to true spiders have been identified as part of the Cave Invertebrate Inventory.
A systematic search for centipedes was conducted in selected caves as part of the Cave Invertebrate Inventory, and one was found in Ice Cave. Further caves are currently being studied.
Millipedes have been found in several caves in the park, including at least one new species to science which is currently being described by a taxonomist. The cave millipedes appear to have adapted to their environment, losing all pigmentation.
Did You Know?
Great Basin rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) are the only venomous snake species in Great Basin National Park. These rattlesnakes rarely exceed 40 inches in total length, reproduce every two to three years, and feed primarily on rodents and lizards.