Like dragonflies, Damselflies are in the Order Odonata. Despite the fact that the immature insect looks very different than the adult, like dragonflies they practice simple/incomplete metamorphosis, growing through eggYmdash;naiad—adult stages. Like dragonflies, their nurseries are aquatic, often in the quiet waters of the pond’s edge.

Potter/Jug-builder Wasp (Family Vespidae)

Most wasps live solitary lives, and when the time comes to lay eggs, they build a variety of types of nursery chambers, provision them with food for their potential young. This small, black mud dauber, also called the Jug Builder Wasp, throws a pot the shape of a small (about ½ inch) jug. She commonly builds several jugs in a row on a small branch, finding and transporting, one by one, small globs of mud.


Centipedes have one leg on each side of each body segment and millipedes. Typical Wisconsin centipedes have about 15 leg-bearing segments (which, alas, leaves us substantially shy of 100 legs). Their first pair of legs has been adapted with small, lobster-like claws, complete with poison ducts that allow centipedes to grab, subdue, handle, and tear their prey. Centipedes are carnivores that spend the daylight hours in the dark and humid world under leaves, logs and soil. They emerge at night to hunt for insects and other small invertebrates.

Aphids (Family Aphididae)

Aphids consume plant juice. Lots and lots of plant juice. The majority of aphids are picky eaters who are attracted to a particular plant species or family. Entertaining a few aphids won’t compromise a plant, but hosting a whole battalion can damage the plant or impair the production of seeds. As an aphid feeds on plant sap, it excretes the unneeded portion in the form of small drops of honeydew.

Dragonflies (Family Libellulidae)

The three dragonflies included here, Eastern/Common Pondhawks, Eastern Amberwing, and Chalk-fronted Corporals, are all in the Skimmer family, Libellulidae. Despite the fact that the young are aquatic and the adults are not, and the young (naiads) look different than the adults, they are considered to have simple or incomplete metamorphosis.

Click Beetle (Family Elateridae)

Adult Click Beetles are long skinny beetles with grooves running down their wing covers. Most adult Click Beetles are 12-30 mm long, a few species get up to 45 mm. The front of their heads and the back end of their wing covers are rounded. The hard-coated click beetle grubs, which may spend up to four years in that stage, are called “wireworms”.

Great Golden Digger Wasp (Family Sphecidae)

Great Golden Diggers Wasps are identified by the golden pubescence on its head and thorax, its reddish orange legs, and partly reddish orange body. GGDWs make vertical tunnels, constructing several cells at the end of each tunnel. Then they go hunting—katydids and crickets are favorite prey; a wasp that is big enough to hunt, sting and paralyze, and fly off with a katydid is a sizeable wasp.

Tachinid Fly (Family Tachinidae)

When you are scrutinizing the prairie flowers in late summer and you spy a “plus-sized” fly with a teeny tiny tutu, it’s probably a Tachinid fly. Instead of laying their eggs in another insect’s nest, they lay one to two eggs in an unsuspecting caterpillar’s “hard-to-reach spots”. The maggots live as internal parasites, consuming their hosts’ less important tissues first and not finishing off the vital organs until they are ready to pupate.

Tiger Beetle (Family Cicindelidae)

Tiger Beetles are wolves of the insect world and are described as having “wicked jaws and bulging eyes.” They spot and chase down their prey—ants, caterpillars, aphids, and other small invertebrates—overtaking them, grabbing them with their pinchers, and banging their little bodies against the ground to kill them. Then they suck out the tender-bits and eat some of the crunchy-bits. Beetles have “complete” metamorphosis—like humans, their path to maturity passes through egg, larval and pupal stages before reaching adulthood.

Nerve-winged Insects

These prehistoric-looking insect, Green Lacewings and Fishflies are members of the Order Neuroptera, named for the network of veins in their wings. They have complete metamorphosis—egg to larva to pupa to adult—involving a complete change of appearance.