Giant Water Bugs Revisited

Not long ago, an email correspondent reported seeing a giant water bug in a parking lot, so the BugLady decided to refresh a BOTW episode from 2009 with some new content and lots of cool links. Giant Water Bugs are “true bugs” in the Order Hemiptera and the family Belostomatidae. It’s not a huge family – about 160 species worldwide, 19 of them in North America.

Silver-spotted Skipper

This wonderful caterpillar dropped down onto the railing the other day while the BugLady was eating breakfast on the porch. The Silver-spotted skipper was mentioned briefly ten years ago in a general BOTW about skippers, in which the BugLady confessed, not for the last time, that she is Skipper Challenged (Brock and Kaufman, in the Field Guide to Butterflies of North America, say that “Beginners are often driven to despair by the skippers because there are so many of them and because they are so subtle, so challenging to identify. Experienced butterfly watchers may love the skippers for exactly the same reasons.”). It deserves an episode of its own.

Maple Spanworm 2

Another week, another Maple Spanworm. This one, the Large Maple Spanworm (Prochoerodes lineola) is also in the family Geometridae. The BugLady didn’t have to play her usual game of Identification Roulette because, of the seven New World species in this primarily tropical genus, this is the only one that occurs in eastern North America.

Maple Spanworm

Isn’t this moth exquisite! It’s one of several moths in the family Geometridae that go by the same name – Maple Spanworm (more about that in a future episode). And it’s one of several “new bugs” that the BugLady saw for the first time this year.

Cross Orbweaver Spider

The BugLady is literally surrounded by Cross Orbweavers (Araneus diadematus). Egg cases were attached to the house and porch last fall, and masses of spiderlings emerged in early summer; she often has to break through a web to get out the door. In her research, the BugLady has seen this group labeled as orbweavers, orb-weavers, and orb weavers, even within the scientific community; she’ll use “orbweavers” because it annoys Spellcheck).

Trogus Pennator

The BugLady was walking along the trail at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve recently when she saw a flashy, orange, inch-long wasp actively hunting for something in some white ash saplings. The wasp was flying from tree to tree, searching among the leaves. This week, we’re taking a look at the Trogus Pennator.

More Scenes of Summer

OK – it’s September, but the bug season isn’t over yet. Outside of wetlands, if there’s anything better than a walk on the prairie, surrounded by Big Bluestem grass, with big Common Green Darners and Black Saddlebags dragonflies overhead, the BugLady hasn’t found it yet. Here is another batch of summer images, mostly from prairies.

Bumble Flower Beetle

The BugLady had a wonderful Beetle Experience the other day. She was at Riveredge Nature Center, attempting to photograph some butterflies (a Common Wood Nymph and a few Viceroys) on a large cup-plant that had bloomed and was forming seeds when she noticed some drab, half-inch, hairy bees sitting on/in the flower heads. When she took a closer look (and some pictures, of course), she discovered that they were a flower scarab called the Bumble Flower Beetle.

Seven-Spotted Ladybug

Sometimes, the origins of insects’ names are pretty inscrutable, but not that of the Seven-spotted Ladybug. Its name does need a little unpacking, though – like the firefly/lightning bug, the ladybug/ladybird is a beetle (alternate name, lady beetle). The Lady in question is the Virgin, to whom the people in the Middle Ages prayed when aphids were devouring their crops, and who is said to have responded by sending this species of aphid-loving beetle.

European Skipper Butterfly

The BugLady has trouble wrapping her head around the idea of a non-native butterfly, especially one that’s considered a pest. What could be more benign than a butterfly? But, there’s the non-native Cabbage White butterfly (there’s even an alien orchid that’s considered invasive in some areas – read this for more about that). Of course, when butterflies are listed as a pest species, it’s because of the dining habits of their caterpillars. This week, the BugLady takes a look at the European Skipper Butterfly.