Protean Shield-backed Katydid

Protean Shield-backed Katydids evoke adjectives like “earthy” and “organic,” and “elemental” (along with “lunker”). This utilitarian katydid looks like it saw the dinosaurs, and maybe it did. Katydids (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Tettigoniinae) are in the order Orthoptera (“straight wings”) (grasshoppers, crickets, et al). Orthoperans survived the meteor strike 65 million years ago; dinosaurs did not. There are 123 species in North America, and they are a mostly-Western bunch, with about 10 species in the East.

Flying Ants

The BugLady got a very special request from almost-5-year-old BugFan Jolene, who is curious about Ant Flies (aka flying ants). Why do some ants get to fly but others don’t? Do they get to have the wings their whole life? Do all ants have ant-flies as part of their family? Are their classmates jealous of their wings?

A Surprising Porch Bug (Family Nymphalidae)

Northern Pearly-eyes are generally described as shade loving butterflies of forest glades and edges, not found on flowers in sunny meadows. They “may be active early a.m. or late p.m. when they court,” and several sources said that they may come to light at night.

Technicolor Thoughts

With a lower case “t,” technicolor refers to something that is vividly colorful. But long before the creation of color motion pictures, nature has been demonstrating the word’s meaning. Especially when it comes to bugs!

Jumping Spiders Can See the Moon

What do Jumping Spiders and cats have in common? Apart from being adorably fuzzy, they are also both enraptured by laser pointers! The reason being Jumping Spiders’ powerful and rather unique eyes which can even see the moon. Not bad for something whose eyes are less than a millimeter large.

Tiger Swallowtail Brood I (Family Papilionidae)

The first brood of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails is sailing around the BugLady’s skyscapes. Brood I has it tough—they weather the winter and early spring as a chrysalis, hitched (stitched) to the base of a tree trunk, exposed to bitter cold by the lack of snow and chilled by long, cold, wet springs. Many die. And yet, here they are—looping through the air and instigating Brood II.

Bugs in the News II

The BugLady has decided to take June off this year. But, be on the lookout for jumping worms, a.k.a. “crazy worms,” “snake worms,” and “Alabama jumpers”, are knocking on the door—they are established in Wisconsin, and the full extent of their range is not known.

Wildflower Watch II – Regarding Wild Geraniums

If the first rule of looking for insects is “check the flowers,” then wild geraniums(Geranium maculatum) are the flower to watch right now. Insects perceive UV light differently than we do, and the transparent veins that lead them across the petals to the payload at the center of the flower (they’re called “nectar guides”) are far more conspicuous to them.

Eastern Calligrapher Fly (Family Syrphidae)

The Eastern Calligrapher wear exquisitely etched patterns around/partly around their abdomens. At 6 to 7 ½ mm long, the Eastern Calligrapher is mid-sized for its genus. Like many syrphids, they mimic bees and wasps but have no stinger. A quick wing-count will separate them (wasps and bees have four wings, and flies have only two). They add to the deceit by making a buzzing/droning sound. Adult syrphids feed on pollen and nectar, especially on large, flat, pale flowers, and they are considered pollinators even though they don’t have specific pollen-carrying structures.

Pygmy Backswimmer (Family Pleidae)

Pygmy backswimmers are true bugs, the aquatic bugs, along with water boatmen, giant water bugs, backswimmers, and water scorpions. They are in the family Pleidae, a family with maybe 40 species worldwide, five of those in North America. They occur globally except for the Poles and some distant oceanic islands, and almost all dally in clear, still, weedy waters. Though they may inhabit ephemeral ponds and can dry out for a while when the pond does, they generally live in permanent waters.