Water lily Leaf Beetle II (Family Chrysomelidae)

The Water Lily Leaf Beetleis found throughout North America, wherever its host plants grow, and in northern Europe. They feed primarily on water lilies and smartweeds; each of the two distinct plant families presents unique feeding challenges, and it has been suggested that there are two, specialized races of WLLBs, with slightly different sizes, colors and jaw widths. A study in which larvae were mixed and matched with either food plant showed that not all host plants are created equal—beetles preferred, grew faster on, and had higher survival rates on their natal plants.

Giant Casemaker Caddisfly (Family Phryganeidae)

Caddisflies are famous for having soft-bodied, aquatic larvae that, depending on their species and habitat use plant materials or teeny stones to construct portable cases. For glue they use silk that they produce in a gland in their lower lip. The Giant Casemakers are found through much of the U.S., into Canada. Their larvae live in cold water, both still and gently flowing, and they construct their cases by sticking vegetation together longitudinally or in a spiral

March Fly (Family Bibionidae)

March flies generally live in wooded areas and are often found on flowers—adults of some species feed on nectar, pollen, and honeydew, but adults of other species don’t feed at all, and in either case, they are very short-lived. They’re considered important pollinators in orchards and for some species of irises and orchids. Their larvae, drab and primitive-looking, feed en masse on rotting organic material like leaves, wood, compost, and rich soil, and sometimes they damage plant roots.

Galls IV – Two Oaks and a Hickory

Here’s the general formula for gall formation: Mom lays/injects her egg(s) onto/into plant tissue, and when the eggs hatch, the young insects (there are gall-making wasps, flies, beetles, moths, thrips, and aphids) or mites burrows inside, if it’s not there already. Specific gall-makers target specific host plants, resulting in galls that are predictable in location and appearance.

Golden Dung Fly (Family Scathophagidae)

Golden/Yellow Dung Flies are small, spiny flies. Appearance can vary geographically, seasonally, and because of a variety of other factors including larval food availability. The fly’s life is dung-centered. Mom and Dad meet there, mate there, lay eggs there, and take their meals there. They feed on other flies that are attracted to dung, and they also consume nectar (and, if times get tough, each other), but they leave man and beast alone. Its geographic range includes cooler, temperate regions throughout much of the world, and it probably arrived in North America from Europe early-on, with shipments of cattle.

Selected Short Subjects

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 else.

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.