The BugLady is feeling a little cranky. It’s snowing as she’s writing this – 3” to 5” are expected, and the temperatures predicted for the next week mean that the snow’s not going anywhere soon, so the newly-returned robins, cranes and killdeer will be very unhappy – and she’s leading her first woodcock and frog walk in three weeks. To take our minds off of the snow, here are a few insects about which the information is sparse, though they are undoubtedly worthy.
Ever since the BugLady started her “Bugs in the News” sub-series, alert BugFans have been sending links to articles they’ve come across. Thanks, BugFans! Alas, to view a few of these, you have to wade through some ad content.
This week, The BugLady introduces some insects that, while not totally unsung, still have a pretty low profile.
SCHIZOTIS CERVICOLIS has no common name (for no earthly reason that the BugLady could discern, one site calls it the “Flaming-pillow beetle,” but she’s not dignifying that one). It’s a Fire-colored beetle, family Pyrochroidae (because many species in the family have red or orange body parts). Male pyrochroids often have fancy antennae. The BugLady photographed it as it bobbed up and down on a stem in a wetland on a breezy day in late spring. Like the coreopsis beetle above, it resides across northern half of North America.
The BugLady has been busy, so here’s an enhanced version of an episode that appeared in 2009. New facts, new pictures.
Beetles have been around for 225 million years, plus or minus, and more than a quarter of all species of living things that have been described are beetles. They outnumber vertebrate species 18 to 1 and there are 24,000 beetle species in North America alone.
The goldenrods in the BugLady’s field are exuberant, with new, brilliant yellow flowers opening daily. Goldenrod blooms late, produces a bonanza of pollen (there’s not much nectar there), and is the embodiment of the insect enthusiast’s credo—“Looking for insects? Check the flowers.”
Lately, The BugLady’s been thinking about prairies. She led a walk at Riveredge Nature Center’s excellent “Knee Deep in Prairies” celebration, and she spends a lot of quality time on the prairie because she loves its ever-changing palettes and patterns. By some estimates, the biomass of the insects on pre-settlement American prairies equaled that of the bison. Here are some pollinators and predators and plant feeders of the prairie – and the flowers they visit.
With a lower case “t,” technicolor refers to something that is vividly colorful. But long before the creation of color motion pictures, nature has been demonstrating the word’s meaning. Especially when it comes to bugs!
If the first rule of looking for insects is “check the flowers,” then wild geraniums(Geranium maculatum) are the flower to watch right now. Insects perceive UV light differently than we do, and the transparent veins that lead them across the petals to the payload at the center of the flower (they’re called “nectar guides”) are far more conspicuous to them.
Another celebration of insects that are not good enough nor bad enough nor beautiful enough nor bizarre enough to have fan clubs, or common names, or even much of a biography.