Bugs Without Bios VII

Time to celebrate three more unsung bugs—bugs about whom little is written and whose internet presence is mostly limited to species/collection/biodiversity lists, and to whom we will give their 15 minutes of fame. Remember—there are more than 100,000 species of insects on this continent north of the Rio Grande, many that are difficult to distinguish from their close relatives and that are lacking both common names and biographies.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

It’s time again for the Annual “Twelve Bugs of Christmas” event (and, coincidentally, episode #350 in the series, by the BugLady’s numbering). Here are a (Baker’s) dozen insects that will not be getting (or who have already had) their own BOTWs. Feel free to hum along, and have a lovely Holiday.

Tiger Beetles Revisited (Family Cicindelidae)

Tiger Beetles (family Cicindelidae) are a pretty spiffy family of beetles; some are green, some brown to maroon, some have patterns (which can be variable within a species) and some don’t, and the ghost tiger beetle is, well, ghostly. They have long legs and similar shapes. There about 2,600 species worldwide; more than 100 in North America. They typically like semi-bare, open habitats with loose/sandy soils.

Osmoderma Hat Trick (Family Scarabaeidae)

The Osmoderma are Hermit Flower beetles in the scarab family Scarabaeidae, a family that includes rhinoceros, dung, fig, June beetles, and more. Adult Osmoderma beetles (from the Greek osme – smell, and derma – skin) are sap feeders and their larvae are found in the center of dead/dying hardwood trees.

Ragweed Leaf Beetle (Family Chrysomelidae)

The BugLady thinks it’s a Ragweed Leaf Beetle (Zygogramma suturalis), if not, it’s a Calligrapha bidenticola, the two species are “easily distinguished” by a good look at the tarsal claws and at the color of the folded, ventral edge of the elytra. Both are found from the Great Plains to the Atlantic and both have similar food preferences. There are about 100 species in the genus Zygogramma, but only a dozen or so live north of the Rio Grande.

Bugs Without Bios VI

“Bugs without Bios” are critters that, while undoubtedly worthy, are barely on the radar in either on-line or print references. But, they contribute to their communities and have their own places in the Web of Life. What these three have in common is their (admittedly very limited) work as biological control agents.

Summer Summary

As the Bug Season winds down, the BugLady would like to celebrate summer by sharing a baker’s dozen of the pictures she’s taken in the past few months.

Tortoise Beetle (Family Chrysomelidae)

Tortoise Beetles belong to the Leaf beetle family Chrysomelidae, a huge 1,700+ species in North America alone. As their names suggest, this is a bunch of plant eaters who are often very attached to a single species or group of plant species.

Checkered Beetle (Family Cleridae)

Checkered Beetles live in a variety of habitats in North America (there are about 3,500 species worldwide). As a group they are small-ish, hairy, long and narrow, and brightly-patterned. CBs can be seen on flowers and in trees. Most species are meat eaters as both larvae and adults—the majority hunt on and under the bark of trees; some sit on flowers or sap flows and prey on visiting insects; still others consume insect eggs and a few are scavengers.

Glowworm Beetle (Family Phengodidae)

Glowworm Beetles are in the glowworm beetle family Phengodidae, a New World family of about 250 species with representatives living from the southern edge of Canada all the way to Chile. Most species live south of the Rio Grande. Other common names include “glow-worms” (a name shared with larval Lightning beetles) and “railroad worms.”