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.

Bugs without Bios IX

Another celebration of insects that are not good enough nor bad enough nor beautiful enough nor bizarre enough to have fan clubs, or common names, or even much of a biography.

Carolina Saddlebags (Family Libellulidae)

Carolina Saddlebags have been recorded in about 15 counties in Wisconsin, scatter-gunned throughout the state. These are primarily eastern/southeastern dragonflies that range from Nova Scotia to Texas, and they’re listed as a rare migrant here in God’s Country. Carolinas prefer shallow ponds, swamps, and lakes, and very slow streams as long as there is plenty of emergent vegetation and the water is not muddy, and they are a bit more tolerant of the presence of fish than their confreres.

Green-spotted Fruitworm Moth (Family Noctuidae)

Green-spotted Fruitworm Moth adults, in the early days of spring, visit birch and maple sap drips for nourishment, and then switch to nectar from maple and willow flowers. They are considered pollinators. SGQs overwinter as pupae in minimalist cocoons in the soil, ready to go when the ground warms. Females lay eggs (100 to 300 of them) in trees as the leaves emerge; their caterpillars are on the job by the end of April and have disappeared by the end of June, tucked away under the soil until the following year.

Ephemeral Pond Critters Revisited

The wonder of ephemeral pools is that they are populated by animals that take this annual disappearing act in stride—animals that are prepared to dry up with the pond or to get out of Dodge (timing is everything), and therein lie many tales. An astonishing array of animals use ephemeral ponds as a place to drink, hunt, and breed, but an ephemeral pond is a challenging place to call home. The still, shallow water warms quickly (which encourages speedy metamorphoses) but contains little oxygen.

Contemplating Insect Eggs

Most insects begin their lives inside an egg that’s been deposited near/onto/into the correct food source, in the correct habitat for the eventual young. The BugLady often photographs these eggs, but she didn’t know much about them.

Common Green Darner, the Rest of the Story (Family Aeshnidae)

Most of our Wisconsin darners are in the famously-confusing mosaic darner genus Aeshna. Common Green Darners are one of two species of Anax darners found in the state. Common green darners are, well, very common, not just here but across the country. And Central America. And Hawai’i. And Canada. And there are populations in Tahiti and the West Indies. And strong winds have blown individuals to Great Britain, China, and Russia. The other Anax, the stunning Comet darner (Anax longipes) is a rare visitor and even rarer breeder in Wisconsin.

More about Millipedes

Millipedes have two legs on each side of most segments; centipedes have one on each side. there are 12,000 described species of diplopods worldwide, divided into two sub-classes, 16 orders, and 145 families, but there may be 70,000 more species out there waiting to be described! North America has just under 1,000 species in 52 families.

Tree Aphids (Family Aphidae)

Tree aphids are so exquisite that it’s hard to remember that it’s an aphid. It’s the winged phase; non-winged individuals are, depending on the species, blob-shaped, sesame seed-shaped, or spidery-looking insects seen en masse, sucking juices from the tender parts of plants. Aphids are generally wingless until an overcrowded plant/deteriorating plant quality signals them to produce winged forms that can migrate to nearby vegetation.