Black fly – The Bug. The Legend.

Black flies are also called turkey gnats and buffalo gnats, and people who live in black fly country have a whole bunch of other names for them that can’t be repeated here. Entomologists call them true flies (order Diptera) in the family Simuliidae. There are more than 1,800 species in the family worldwide (100 in North America; 30 in Wisconsin), and most of them belong in the huge genus Simulium. What do they look like? Their hump-backed thorax and down-tilted head makes buffalo gnat a good nickname. BFs are tiny (5 to 10 mm) and dark, with clear wings, many-segmented antennae, and big eyes (and teeth, just kidding).

Wildflower Watch –Marsh Marigold

May is American wetlands month, so we’ll end it in the swamp, in the company of Marsh Marigolds, the flowers that turn newly thawed wetlands a riotous yellow from the last days of April through much of May. Skunk cabbage and pussy willows may whisper the arrival of spring, but marsh marigolds crank up the volume. The BugLady should have started this project two weeks ago when the marsh marigold was at its peak, but the truth is that despite the masses of flowers it produces, she seldom sees many insects on it, and the ones she sees are as likely to be resting as dining.

Zebra Caddisfly

Another week, another zebra. The BugLady had fun chasing this dynamite little insect along the banks of the Milwaukee River at Waubedonia Park in mid-summer (it likes to perch on the undersides of leaves). She had never seen one before, but after a few false starts, she discovered that it’s a Zebra Caddisfly.

Closed for June – The Dance Fly

Dance Fly

The BugLady loves these fancy little flies and their habitat preferences, for the damp and the dappled are similar to hers. Dance flies are abroad in June and are one of the BugLady’s “nemesis bugs.”

More Scenes of Summer

OK – it’s September, but the bug season isn’t over yet. Outside of wetlands, if there’s anything better than a walk on the prairie, surrounded by Big Bluestem grass, with big Common Green Darners and Black Saddlebags dragonflies overhead, the BugLady hasn’t found it yet. Here is another batch of summer images, mostly from prairies.

Black Horse Fly

People often ask the BugLady what her favorite bug is, and although there’s a crowded field for second place, the Tiger Swallowtail is the hands-down winner. Most Impressive Bug? The Black horse fly (Tabanus atratus) (family Tabanidae) is certainly high on that list, and although she knows that it’s (probably) not going to pursue her (they generally stalk non-human mammals), just seeing one always gives her a bit of a start.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

‘Tis the Season for the annual Twelve Bugs of Christmas – a baker’s dozen, actually, of oddities (and wonders) that the BugLady found during the year. Let Heaven and Nature sing!

Bugs in the News III

The BugLady is busy writing about shagbark hickory (for the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog) and Short-eared Owls (for the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory), so here are some items about insects, some of which were sent to her by alert BugFans.

Bugs without Bios X

Introducing three unsung (but worthy) bugs, whose definitive biographies have yet to be written.

ENTYLIA CARINATA (no common name) is a treehopper in the family Membracidae (from the Greek membrax meaning “a kind of cicada”) (to whom they’re distantly related).

The Eye of the Fly

The BugLady has always been blown away by macro photographs of horse fly eyes. Spectacular. And excessive. (and – why??) Then BugFan Debra sent a picture of a buffalo treehopper that had pretty special eyes, too.