For information about UWM’s fall semester plans, visit the Fall 2020 Reopening website.

Technicolor Thoughts

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!

Wildflower Watch II – Regarding Wild Geraniums

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.

Bugs without Bios IX

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.

Green-spotted Fruitworm Moth (Family Noctuidae)

Green-spotted Fruitworm Moth adults, in the early days of spring, visit birch and maple sap drips for nourishment, and then switch to nectar from maple and willow flowers. They are considered pollinators. SGQs overwinter as pupae in minimalist cocoons in the soil, ready to go when the ground warms. Females lay eggs (100 to 300 of them) in trees as the leaves emerge; their caterpillars are on the job by the end of April and have disappeared by the end of June, tucked away under the soil until the following year.

Three Micromoths

Microlepidoptera are a big group of small moths. To some extent, it’s a grouping that’s determined by the size of the moth; there are some families that include both macro and micro species, and the families of the micros tend to be more primitive than those of the macros. The group is very diverse and includes a bunch of day-flying species, and the biographies of many have not been written. Remember—of the 18,000 or so species of Lepidopterans in North America, more than 11,000 are moths. Here are three (and a half) of them.

Seasonal Sights and Sounds

Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.

It’s National Moth Week

It’s National Moth Week! Right now (July 23rd – 31st)! Moths are diverse, successful, showy, drab, cryptic, abundant, huge (a few have wingspreads close to 12”), micro, tasty, toxic objects of our admiration, confusion, superstition, and reverence.

Bugs Without Bios IX

Spring housecleaning—time to tidy up a few more insects whose biographies are short ones.

Azalea Sphinx (Family Sphingidae)

Sphinx moth caterpillars are frequently associated with one, or a small group of host plants, for which they are often named (tobacco and tomato hornworms, big poplar, wild cherry, huckleberry, catalpa sphinx, etc.). Some are pests of agricultural or horticultural plantings, and they may have different names than their adults (when it grows up, a tomato hornworm becomes a Five-lined sphinx).

Headless Moths II – Yellow Necked Datana Moths (Family Notodontidae)

There are 13 species of Datana moths in North America; some are associated with specific host plants like nut trees, sumacs, or azaleas, but the Yellow Necked Datana Moth is more of a generalist feeder. Its menu includes basswood, apple, oak, birch, willow, elm, blueberry, and others.