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.

Black Fly (Family Simuliidae)

Black flies are tiny and dark, with clear wings, many-segmented antennae, and big eyes. Their larvae like lots of oxygen and are not tolerant of warmer waters or pollution. Adult BFs live for about three weeks, laying 150 to 500 eggs either individually on the water’s surface or in clumps. Like other biting flies, males are blameless nectar feeders. Females may also consume nectar, but they need that all-important blood meal in order to reproduce.

Soldier Fly (Family Stratiomyidae)

Soldier Flies are mimics who live out in the open by impersonating something that stings. The adults are found nectaring on flowers (or on dung) worldwide (especially in Neotropical haunts), near the wet areas their young require. Larvae of some species are remarkably tolerant to adverse conditions like high temperatures or salinity, and some are found in sewerage outflows.

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

Mullein Watching

The BugLady has always enjoyed mullein plants (Verbascum thapsus). Oh, she knows that they’re sun-slurping aliens whose mission is to blanket the earth at the expense of native vegetation, but they produce cheery yellow flowers, and they stick out of grassy fields like skinny saguaro cacti.

Signal Fly (Family Platystomatidae)

Signal Flies are usually seen in fields and edges. SFs are small—these guys/gals are about 6mm long, with patterns on their wings and often on their faces and with metallic colors elsewhere. SFs have protruding mouthparts that resemble a gas mask.

The Porch at Night

It’s a good thing that the BugLady doesn’t have nearby neighbors (or a Home Owners’ Association) who might be alarmed about someone who turns on the porch light and then creeps around taking pictures of porch critters at midnight.

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.”

Long-legged Fly (Family Dolichopodidae)

There are around 7,000 species in the Long-legged Fly family worldwide (600 species in just the single genus Dolichopus), and that 1,300 species live in North America! They’re a big bunch of small (¼”), big-eyed, often metallic (and, yes—long-legged) flies. Look for long-legged flies (LLFs) on leaves in dappled shade near gardens, grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands

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.”