Bug of the Week


Sow bugs are not insects (Class Insecta) but are Crustaceans, distantly related to lobsters, shrimps, crayfish and crabs. They like the dark and damp and are found under leaves, logs, flowerpots, etc.


Not a true fly, Stoneflies do have two sets of wings, which they tuck tightly across their body at rest. The naiads are aquatic and are found in flowing (well-aerated) water, where they live for up to three years. The nymphs are primitive-looking, flat and have strong claws. The larvae of some species of stoneflies are predators, and others feed on plant material that falls into the water.

Yellow Garden Spider (Family Araneidae)

Yellow Garden Spider webs are often built in “chimneys”—cleared areas in the tall grass. It’s as though the webs exist within a glass cylinder in otherwise dense brome grass. The female spins the center of the web; the male adds more web around the outside and adds a thick, white, zig-zag “zipper” band to the center. Also called the Black-and-yellow Argiope, this impressive gal may reach 1 1/8” in length (the male is about ¼”).


The giant hatches for which Mayflies are famous are not restricted to the month of May. Female mayflies lay 500 to 1000 eggs each, dropping them into or placing them under the water’s surface. Immature mayflies (naiads) are aquatic, living under water, especially running water, for 6 weeks to 3 years, and going through 21 molts as a naiad. They are eaten by birds, bats, dragonflies, toads, frogs and fish. Adults do not have functional mouth parts and do not eat; they only live for a few hours.

Crane Fly (Family Tipulidae)

Crane Fly adults look disconcertingly like monster mosquitoes gathered on screens, but they don’t sting, and some species do not even eat. Aquatic crane fly maggots eat decaying vegetation or small invertebrates and are eaten by fishes. Crane flies have two tiny, stemmed knobs called haltare on their thorax (look carefully at the picture); these are a vestigial second pair of wings, and they are used for balance.

Syrphid Fly (Family Syrphidae)

When Syrphid flies fly, they give off a slight droning sound; when they perch, they hold their wings out a little from their sides like a V. They are small, measuring 3/8″ to 5/8″ long. Some syrphid flies are nearly bee-sized, but the mosquito-sized duo in below right are at the small end of the range. Males will hover for long periods in hopes of attracting a female.

Water Strider (Family Gerridae)

Water Striders skate on the water’s surface film. Water striders are carnivores. They use their second and third sets of legs to skate the surface film, and they grab their prey with their shorter front legs. They feed on small invertebrates that get caught on the surface film. They use the same “meat tenderizer” method as ambush bugs. The adults of the summer’s final brood overwinter at the bottom of the pond.

Stinkbugs (Family Pentatomidae )

Stinkbugs include some of the worst garden pests in the insect world, and they smell bad, too. They get their name from the stink glands located on the ventral side of their bodies. Though some stinkbugs are predators, Green stink bugs drink the juice from a wide variety of leaves, flowers and fruits.

Scorpionfly (Family Panorpidae)

The Scorpionfly belongs in the small order Mecoptera, and not with the true flies. They have two pairs of wings but are weak flyers. Despite their startling appearance, scorpionflies do not sting or bite, and, in fact, they are seldom seen. They feed on ripe fruit, nectar and dead and dying insects, and they serve as food for a variety of flying and creeping invertebrates.

Honey Bees (Family Apidae)

Honeybees, famously, live in social groups with strictly defined roles. The workers, all female, have stingers that are vestigial ovipositers. Some workers forage for food, some guard the hive, some are nursery workers and others care for the queen. The queens are the mothers of the hive, and the drones (males) are boy-toys.