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Bugs without Bios IX

Beetle Calleida

Bugs without Bios celebrates the small-but-mighty insects that, mostly unsung, sneak below our radar daily. Today’s catch have three things in common – their identifications are all “probable;” they’re all carnivores; and on each of the three, the BugLady’s Google search ran out in fewer than ten pages.

Texas Ironclad Beetle

Ironclad Beetle

When BugFan Kine sent this “what is it” picture, the BugLady’s first reaction was to raise her hand and say “Teacher, teacher! Ask me! Ask me!” She didn’t recall its name, but she knew she had seen a picture of it in Kaufman’s Field Guide to Insects of North America (it’s also in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders).

The Twelve Bugs of Christmas 2019

Bumblebee

Let’s celebrate the (almost bugless) Season with a dozen bugs that were photographed this year. Down through the centuries, various regional versions of the classic Christmas carol have included hares a-running, ducks quacking, badgers baiting, bulls a-roaring, biting cows, bears a-beating, cocks a-crowing, asses racing, starlings, plovers, goldspinks (goldfinches), sides of meat, ponies, deer, stalks of corn, cheese, windmills, and an Arabian Baboon. Never any bugs, though, so it’s up to us.

Ninebark Leaf Beetle

Ninebark

A few years ago, when the BugLady wrote about the ninebark leaf beetle (Calligrapha spiraea), she made a mental note to pay more attention to ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) during its blooming period. Ninebark? The way the BugLady heard the story, the shrub’s name comes from the German word “nein” for “no,” a reference to the fact that the smooth bark of the young branches looks like no bark at all (some non-German botanist eventually rearranged the vowels so that they made sense to him).

Viburnum Leaf Beetle

Viburnum leaf beetle

It’s quiet now, but the Viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni) is slowly chewing its way across southern Wisconsin. It has followed the general invasive species template – establishing small, often undetected populations and staying below the radar for years, its spread (unwittingly) aided by human activity. Once we know we know it’s here, it has already reached numbers that are difficult to control.

September Scenes

The leaves are starting to fall here in God’s Country, the birds are moving, and as of yesterday it’s officially autumn (Yikes!). But there are still some bugs out there – like wildflowers, some species of insects bloom in the spring, some in the summer, and others in the fall. The imperative to reproduce is strong as the days get shorter; most insects live for about a calendar year, mainly in their immature stages, with a short-but-productive adult stage. Most leave behind eggs or pupae or partly-grown offspring to weather the winter.

Once upon a Fungus

When the BugLady was walking in the woods at Riveredge the other day, she found some plate-sized, stocky, very aromatic, gilled mushrooms growing out of the ground. Then, she saw something moving on the rim of an “over-the-hill” fungus.

Summer Survey 2019

The BugLady hopes that you’ve been getting out on the trail and drinking in the lushness of the summer. Subjects of this summer’s survey include wasps, aphids, syrphids, and katydids.

Majestic Long-horned Beetle

The BugLady is always excited when she finds an insect she’s never seen before. She was moseying along the trail at Riveredge Nature Center at the beginning of July when she saw a flash of orange in the vegetation. A big flash. She craned and fidgeted and crossed her fingers while the beetle crawled around, revealing itself by degrees.

Stories, not Atoms

The poet Muriel Rukeyser once wrote, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” The BugLady sees lots of tableaux unfolding as she ambles across the landscape. Because she was taught, at an impressionable age, by a professor who said “Don’t just tell them what it is, tell them ‘what about it,’” she tries to read the stories and understand the “what-about-its”