Selected Short Subjects

Howdy, BugFans, The BugLady’s #3 child nailed it years ago when she proclaimed her mother an “Essoterrorist”—someone with a fondness for squirreling away obscure facts. Here are some of the Bug Facts that she’s come across while looking for something… Read More

Life on the Pond

No words today, but an amazing set of videos. A woman named Linda contacted the BugLady in the summer of 2016 about her Missouri Master Naturalist project, which involved recording life on the surface of a (primordial ooze-ish) pond near her home. She set up her video camera on a rock overlooking the pond and recorded dramas, large and small, in that cradle of life.

False Bombardier Beetle Redux (Family Carabidae)

Bombardier Beetles dark-colored, speedy, long-lived, nocturnal carnivores. Many of the more talented members of the family are able to produce noxious chemicals to spray on their enemies. The False Bombardier Beetle spray consists mainly (80%) of concentrated formic acid (which is also deployed by ants), with some acetic acid and wetting agents thrown in.

The 13 Bugs of Christmas

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English carol that was probably borrowed from the French and that was originally an acapella chant/call-and-response/children’s memory game. It first appeared in writing in 1780, and there were (and still are) many variations of it, though the words were more-or-less standardized when an official melody was finally written for it in 1909.

Ichneumon centrator Wasp (Family Ichneumonidae)

Ichneumon centrator (no common name) is about ¾” long. Females are black with smoky wings, reddish-brown accents on the thorax and head, mostly-pale antennae, and dark yellow bands on their legs. Males are black, with pale antennae. Only one host species has been identified for Ichneumon centrator, and it’s the larva of the Isabella tiger moth, famously known as the Wooly bear caterpillar.

A Couple of Stinkbugs (Family Pentatomidae)

Stink Bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts in the form of a tube that is inserted into their food source, through which digestive juices are injected, and through which the resultant pre-digested tissue is extracted. The family contains herbivores, including a number of agricultural pests; carnivores, some of which are used as biological controls on other insects; and a few that start their lives as plant feeders but switch to animals.

Brown Lacewing (Family Hemerobiidae)

Adult Brown Lacewings have four-wings and are a half-inch-long(ish), with light brown wings, often patterned, and they are less conspicuous—and hairier—than green lacewings. They have chewing mouthparts and conspicuous eyes. Brown lacewing adults and larvae richly deserve their nicknames of “aphid lions” and “aphid wolves,” but they also prey on small critters like mealybugs, white flies, spider mites, scales, and on insect eggs.

Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)

Slaty Skimmers are one of three dragonflies in Wisconsin that are closely-related, very similar-looking, and very rare. Males are territorial and hostile, defending stretches of shoreline, and an approach by an intruding male results in aggressive displays, loop-the-loops, and chases. They are most active in the morning. Females are rarely seen at the water’s edge unless they’re in the mood, and they may breed while still in their juvenile coloration.

Splendid Dwarf Spider (Family Linyphiidae)

Splendid dwarf spiders belong to the large Linyphiidae spider family. Linyphiids are second in species numbers only to Jumping spiders and are a dominant group of spiders in the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere (where they’re sometimes seen walking on snow). Splendid dwarf spiders are found from coast to coast, mostly across the northern half of the U.S. and southern Canada.

A Tale of Two Mussels – the One-Two Punch

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and Quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) have traveled far from their native haunts, the Caspian Sea drainage of western Russia. Although their life histories are similar, the two mussels prefer somewhat different habitats. Zebra mussels like water depths of 6 to 30 feet, and quaggas can live as deep as 400 feet, so zebra mussels grow closer to shore, and quaggas thrive through the deep basins of the Great Lakes.