Bug Mysteries

The BugLady takes lots of pictures as she moseys around—flowers, landscapes, a surprising number of people, and, of course, all manner of bugs. Bug pictures may stall in the BugLady’s X–Files, awaiting identification—some for a long time. Here is a selection from the X–Files. In some cases the BugLady knows part of the story; in others, even less.

Ephemeral Pond Critters

The BugLady has been hanging out at her local ephemeral pond again, looking at small things in the water. She loves the cycles of ephemeral ponds and the critters they contain. Ephemeral ponds are (most years) just that—ephemeral. These are here-today-and-gone-tomorrow ponds, gather-ye-rosebuds-while-ye-may wetlands.

Pussy Willow Pollinators

People get excited when pussy willows whisper the spring. The BugLady thinks it’s more fun to skulk among the pussy willows when they are actually blooming (the gray, fuzzy “bud” is the future female catkin), ogling the diversity of insects that come to visit. Willows are dioecious (separate house), bearing their male and female flowers on different plants

Soft-winged Flower Beetle (Family Melyridae)

The Soft-winged Flower Beetle are often found on flowers out in the open, where they eat pollen, insect eggs, and flower-loving insects that land within their grasp. The larvae generally stay concealed under tree bark or leaf litter or soil, where they prey on other invertebrates. North America accounts for 500-plus species of often-strikingly-colored, slightly-hairy beetles.

Ladybugs Three (Family Coccinellidae)

Ladybugs are not bugs in the Order Hemiptera. A more appropriate name is lady beetle or ladybird beetle. It seems that back in the Middle Ages, the European grape crop was threatened by a horde of aphids. Adult ladybugs eat aphids, and larval ladybugs eat aphids, and lady beetles rode to the rescue. A female may lay as many as 1,000 eggs over a few weeks, usually near aphid herds. Some of the eggs are fertile and some are not. If aphids are scarce, the sterile eggs serve as food for the larvae.

Flatheaded Poplar Borer (Family Buprestidae)

Adult Flatheaded Poplar Borer Beetles are found by day on pine and aspen trees. Eggs are laid on the twigs or bark of dead or dying Bigtooth Aspen, and the larvae chew zigzag trails just under the bark, eating the protein and sugar of the sapwood for two to five years or (anecdotally) decades. They pupate under the bark and chew their way out after emerging as adults.

Bugs Without Bios III

As veteran BugFans will recall, there are a multitude of bugs out there that are pretty cute but that simply don’t have much information attached to them. In fact, there are around 100,000 species of insects in North America, and a lot of them don’t even have a common name.

Two Beetles that Bite

Today’s two beetles are biters. There’s oodles of information about one of them, the sap beetle because its path intersects with ours regularly; the other is one of a legion of anonymous, gray, long-horned beetles.

A Passel of Predators

The BugLady has been a fan of predators since she was old enough to lisp out the word. She likes the cuts of their collective jibs and their matter-of-fact fierceness. To her, the “eat-ers” are far more interesting than the “eat-ees.”

Bugs Without Bios II

The BugLady had a professor years (decades) ago who used to say “Don’t just tell them what it is, tell them ‘What about it?’” Here is the second installment of miscellaneous bugs with brief biographies—insects about whom the BugLady can’t find many “What about it’s.”