The 13 Bugs of Christmas

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English carol that was probably borrowed from the French and that was originally an acapella chant/call-and-response/children’s memory game. It first appeared in writing in 1780, and there were (and still are) many variations of it, though the words were more-or-less standardized when an official melody was finally written for it in 1909.

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.

Gardening with Weevils

There are about 3,000 species of true weevils in North America (with more than 40,000 described species worldwide, they’re the 3rd largest animal family) (numbers one and two are insects, too), 150 species of bean weevils, and 150 kinds of straight-snouted weevils. Many weevils, like today’s duo, are attached to specific host 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.

Two Weevils (Family Curculionidae)

Almost all weevils are plant-eaters. As its name suggests, the Cattail Billbug is found on cattails, reeds, sedges and other monocots in wetlands. The Rhubarb Curculio is an American weevil that like open spaces, especially around water. The adults feed on rhubarb and the larvae enjoy it too, but rhubarb plants are distinctly unfriendly to RC reproduction.

Strawberry Root Weevil (Family Curculionidae)

Strawberry Root Weevils are often described as pear-shaped or light bulb-shaped, with noticeable snouts and with antennae situated partway down the snout. SRWs love to overwinter in houses (sometimes in large numbers), where they are harmless. They are herbivores as both larvae and adults, with the larvae feeding mainly on roots in the soil and the adults feeding on foliage or bark

Baptisia Seed Pod Weevils (Family Curculionidae)

Weevils (family Curculionidae) are the largest family in the beetle order, but despite its common names, the Baptisia seed pod weevil (BSPW) (Apion rostrum) is (now) in the family Brentidae, the “primitive” or “straight-snouted” weevils.

Green Weevil, Red Weevil (Family Curculionidae)

Green Immigrant Leaf Weevils made their way from Europe to New York by 1906. Today they can be found all over the northeastern portion of North America, including Canada. Metallic, green scales overlay a black body, and the color may fade to grayish-green as they age. The Rose Curculio can be found throughout the northern half of the U.S. and southern Canada, coast to coast. As its name suggests, roses are its BFF, but blackberry and raspberry plants will do in a pinch.

Oak Timberworm Weevil (Family Brentidae)

The adult and the larval Oak Timberworm Beetle (OTW) are associated with wood; in fact, their life cycle seems to be carried out mostly within trees. The adults live under the bark of dead/dying/damaged beech, poplar, maple and oak trees where they feed on fungi, wood-eating insects, and liquid/sap exuded by the wood. Adults are attracted to wounds in bark where sap is oozing.

Milkweed Critters Revisited

This week’s BOTW is another of those retreads from the olden days when BOTW was brand new. If you are a Charter BugFan, you’ll note that exciting new species, pictures and information have been added.