The 12 Bugs of Christmas

With apologies to Olde English Folk Songs everywhere, here is the Second Annual Twelve Bugs of Christmas, featuring a Baker’s Dozen that were photographed this year but that did/will not appear in BOTWs. These pictures are a tribute to the joy of stumbling into the right place at the right time.

Cup Plant Cosmos

The BugLady spent some very warm days among the Cup plants, those jumbo prairie plants whose opposite leaves join around the stem resulting in a small reservoir that often holds rain water or dew. The undersurface of the tender top leaves of many Cup plants were wall-to-wall with (insert creepy adjective here) red aphids—a cast of thousands—and there were some very cool supporting actors.

Chalk-fronted Corporal Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)

Chalk-fronted Corporals are dragonflies whose range includes the northern half of the U.S. and southern Canada. They typically emerge in huge numbers in early May. On cool, spring days, hundreds of CfCs may congregate on/over warm road surfaces. CfCs like swampy, marshy, boggy wetlands with plenty of decaying plant material in it and they can abide somewhat acid water.

Baskettail (Family Corduliidae)

The Common Baskettail and Spiny Baskettail are among the early dragonflies of spring, their flight periods usually completed by mid-summer. They are described as agile and acrobatic flyers that often form feeding swarms in clearings away from water and that can consume their prey while in flight.

Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)

At just under an inch in length, the Eastern Amberwing is the second smallest dragonfly around. Where do you find them? Over most of the U.S. east of the Great Plains and south into Mexico. Look for them near quiet or very slowly-moving waters, or far from water, hunting at grass-top-height over weedy fields or perched on vegetation at a woodland’s edge.

Eastern Pondhawk (Family Libellulidae)

Eastern Pondhawks are brilliantly green, with dark-tipped abdomens that are decorated by “square,” black spots/bands/chevrons. As they age, males develop a waxy surface layer called pruinosity that hides the green and makes them look blue. Like all dragonflies, EPs are carnivorous. Naiads “sprawl” on pond bottoms or climb on submerged vegetation looking for invertebrates to eat. Adults hunt from the ground or from perches, snatching out of the air a variety of flying insects including butterflies and moths, damselflies, and other dragonflies.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

In lieu of the usual bug biography, the BugLady presents The Twelve Bugs of Christmas—a tribute to a dozen insects (a Baker’s Dozen, really) that were photographed this year but not featured in a BOTW. Let the singing commence.

Clubtail Dragonflies (Family Gomphidae)

Many Clubtail species (but not all) are adorned with three noticeably-flared segments at the end of their abdomen. What Clubtails have in common is that their eyes (usually green, blue or gray) do not touch each other on the tops of their heads. They generally rest, hunt and fly close to the ground, but they will perform vertical loop-the-loops when disturbed. Thirty-four species of Gomphids live or have lived in Wisconsin (there are about 1,000 species worldwide).

Wandering Glider (Family Libellulidae)

Wandering Gliders are considered the most widely-distributed dragonfly species, and because of that have been featured on postage stamps around the globe. Found on 6/7 of the earth’s continents, they occur between 40 degrees north and 40 degrees south latitudes, in areas where there is seasonal rainfall. They are found near temporary, even brackish, ponds and very slow streams, and flying over grasslands. Their range in Wisconsin is erratic.