We would like to thank Mikey for his research in bringing this information to the glider community.
If your gliders accidentally consume any of the creatures mentioned, don't panic! The general rule with ingested no-no critters is: Your gliders will likely be able to rid themselves of bad or toxic
invertebrates should they ingest it, through regurgitation if they even get past the swallowing stage, or through diarrhea. Consult a vet
if there are any concerns.
Let's start with ladybugs
(more accurately, lady beetles). toxic
! Fortunately chances are, if your gliders do attempt to eat a ladybug they'll either end up spitting it out immediately (their toxin is also associated with a bad taste) or simply puke it out! Comparatively they aren't toxic
to the point where a single beetle would cause death.
There are much more poisonous things like black widow spiders
and brown recluses
for instance where a single altercation with the species could spell death, but like I said, for the most part, your gliders will be able to rid themselves of bad or toxic
insect/arthropod food should they ingest it.
All large spiders like wolf spiders
and fishermen spiders
, and giant waterbugs
should be avoided, for the simple danger of their bites.
All carnivorous arthropods
in general should be avoided anyway, as the basic principles of bioaccumulation state that concentrations of pesticides and impurities is greatest as you go up the trophic levels of the food chain, meaning top carnivores get loaded with the stuff from the already contaminated prey animals they feed on, and it accumulates in their bodies.
The nutritional content of the detritivores like sowbugs/potato bugs/pillbugs
is questionable, and the chances that they may be feeding off contaminated or bacteria-ridden food items (as they are exclusive feeders of decaying material; mostly plant material) is always a possibility.
Dipterans: the dangers of contamination and bacteria are great with flies
, as I'm sure you may know, and if you stop to think about the kinds of materials their maggot larvae feed and live off (e.g. rotting flesh, feces of other animals, decaying matter all depending on the species), you will understand why you may not want to feed those flies buzzing around your house to your gliders. Stay away from horse flies and all those other biting, blood-sucking and proboscis-sporting flies, again for their bite and the possibility of microbes both in the blood they consume and the places they've been. Fireflies
, stink bugs
, and monarch butterflies
also fall under the toxic
/bitter category. I'm sure you've seen at least one photo of a bird vomitting a monarch butterfly somewhere. They cause bad tummy aches and taste bad all-around, but rarely lead to the death of the animal (i.e. the predator).
Any wild caterpillar
with hair should be avoided. Many species possess defensive urticating hairs (though they shouldn't technically be called "hairs" as they don't grow from follicles, but are instead extensions of the exoskeleton), which are designed to break off and irritate skin and mucous membranes. Several species, e.g. Swallowtail produce foul-tasting irritants that may cause your glider discomfort and make it sick. There may as well be a rule to stay away from caterpillars
in general, as it may be hard to identify what species of plant they may feed from, and if it's a toxic
species of plant, they likely carry that toxin in their bodies!
An example of the above would be wild hornworms
and the wild adult hawk moths
(their adult form), which are also items of caution as several species, particularly in the warmer climates, feed on tabacco plants and other such potent botanicals, which spell toxicity for animals that feed on them! The commercially available ones are OK to feed, as they are usually raised off a mulberry feed.
fall under the same category of arthropods that produce mildly toxic
and foul-tasting irritants that make them disgusting to the taste buds.
Many outdoor orthopterans (outdoor crickets, grasshoppers, locusts
) also produce a foul-tasting, chemical from glands in their mouths. Ever hold one between two fingers and see a thick reddish-brown secretion streaming from their mouthparts? That's a mild irritant! Keep them away from your gliders. I have found that most commercially available locusts are OK to feed, and infact locusts are a HUGE feeder insect item that one can order for their reptiles and tarantulas from a variety of suppliers. I have found that there are animals that seem to be resilient to the bitter secretion (particularly predatory animals that have developed an immunity to their toxin that share the same habitat, e.g. the starlings of my area seem to not be bothered by the locusts here and will pick them out like peanuts at a bar), and the potency of the secretions vary depending on the species of locust. I have always made it a habit to not feed locusts/crickets from my area to animals that don't come from my area, for the simple reason of that secretion the insects produce (and btw the secretion actually acts more like a deterrent, than a poison, as it functions to make the insect taste horrible). As we all already know, gliders being such specialized feeders may be sensitive to certain food materials and I decided to include the wild locusts in the list due to that risk that the secretions produced may upset their tummies, and though I have fed feeder locusts ordered from suppliers/farms (a species of tropical locust), I have not fed locusts (or those big dark field crickets) caught from outside, because I have found their defensive secretions to smell much different, and I don't want to test its potency on my glider. Not to mention, I am largely unfamiliar with the locust species existent in all your areas of the continent. Even within a single species of locust can the toxin vary geographically in potency, and I'm airing on the side of caution by including them in the list.
Many ground beetle
species also produce this toxin from their mouthparts, so stay away from those carabid beetles. They're often big and black, with iridescent colours of red, green, or violet, found from under rocks and terrestrial debris, and emerge at night. If your glider eats one of these ground beetles, expect to clean up the puke afterwards.
Several arthropods also produce and secrete various acids from their abdomens. Many ants, beetles
including rove beetles
that resemble earwigs
without pinchers, and even earwigs produce such protective/defensive acids, so you may want to stay away from these, too! Some species feed from toxic
plant matter, and thus pose dangers to your gliders.
I'm sure I don't have to say that bees, wasps
, and hornets
pose dangers to your gliders and should not be fed. Speaking of Hymenopterans like ants, bees, and wasps, often these colonial insects derive their foodstuffs from collecting materials from a wide area, which means the chances of them feeding on pesticide-ridden food or treading in pesticide-ridden territory is great. Many species carry back to the nest other dead insects, which may as well have been insects that have previously died from pesticide contact. All these insects that live off foraging collections should be avoided. Red wiggler worms
(even Lumbricus species, i.e. nightcrawlers so readily available at bait/tackle shops) in general should be avoided as they are often avid carriers of parasites like nematodes which naturally exist in the soil and pass through their systems unharmed. I discovered this one day when I drowned a nightcrawler to keep as a specimen to look under a microscope only to find a tonne of little tiny nematodes swimming around in the water a few days later. Also, the skin of earthworms are covered in mucous to allow for respiration to occur (yes, they breath through their skin), and it also allows for the passing in and out of other materials, which means if you're one to be concerned about pesticides, you should really be concerned with earthworms and pesticides because all run-off pesticide compounds always end up in the soil systems and diffuse directly into the worms. Earthworms also feed on grasses, including dead grass that may have been freshly mowed off a golf course, which are almost always pesticide-ridden! Snails and slugs
pose certain dangers. Not only are they often avid carriers of parasites (e.g. there are several species of parasitic nematodes that infect snails/slugs specifically, and use them as a vector host to infect their primary hosts, namely sheep/cattle/other ruminants, etc), but many snails and slugs have been known to eat toxic
/poisonous plants (like poison oak) and fungi, so they are still risky food items for your gliders. Toads
...? Nope! toxic
, indeed! Those bulbous organs behind the eyes are known as parotid glands. They produce a toxin that irritates all mucous membranes (e.g. eyes, nose, mouth, etc). Any amphibian
, though miniature and bite-sized, should not be fed to gliders as many of them are toxic
(e.g. some newt species). Amphibians also breath through their skin and possess an epidermis which allows for the movement of materials in and out of their bodies, which makes them that much more susceptible to the effects and absorption of pesticides. Plus, remember what I said about the nature of pesticide accumulation in predators. Outdoor insects and creatures
should be on the NO-NO list, anyway! The above only accounts for most of the precautionary creatures of temperate North America. The tropics and other regions host a vast array of other unspeakable fauna. I suppose it's good to know these things just incase.