Female Amanda’s Pennant

October 8th, 2012 - 9:07 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 3 Comments

~30mm long | August 22, 2012 | Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve, Haines City, Fl, USA

A female Amanda’s Pennant, Celithemis amanda, perches along a sandy trail in a relatively unvisited state park.

Red Widow with Egg Sac

September 25th, 2012 - 8:59 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~15mm long | August 21, 2012 | Tiger Creek Preserve, Babson Park, Fl, USA

While on my way to BugShot 2012, I spent several days exploring parks along the way. My favorite spot was the Nature Conservancy’s Tiger Creek Preserve for the variety of habitats its trails pass through.

Here, I was curious about some some palmetto leaves that had been sealed up. Peeling a layer of leaves away, I found a red widow guarding her egg sac.

Ants Tending Treehoppers, Poorly Perhaps

July 9th, 2012 - 11:36 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~3mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I had planned to post just a single photo of this scene with ants tending treehoppers. Here we see at least two different colorful treehopper instars, with one actively molting. Ants like the one shown above tended to this small grouping of treehoppers. As I was choosing a photo to post, I noticed something strange about the treehoppers though. Do you see it too?

Look closely and you’ll see that a few nymphs have parasites. I wasn’t sure at first, so I started looking through my other photos. Sure enough, almost every one had one or more parasites. The parasites seem to prefer hiding under the wing pads and below the thorax.

Note the orange parasites hanging below the uppermost treehopper nymphs

See the parasites peeking out from beneath the wing pads of the lower nymph?

Most of the parasites were small, but there were at least a few plump ones.

Note large parasite on uppermost nymph

None of the photos provided a clear view of the parasites, but I suspect they are mites. In any case, apparently the services provided by the ants don’t include grooming.

Another Unidentified Caterpillar

April 30th, 2012 - 10:04 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~30mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Even though I can’t identify it, it’s pretty enough that I had to post it.

A Couple of Dictyopharid Planthoppers

April 15th, 2012 - 9:29 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

10mm long | December 30, 2011 | Quirinópolis, Goiás, Brazil

These dictyopharid planthoppers are a nice addition to my virtual collection.

It took many attempts before I got this shot where both planthoppers were in the plane of focus. That’s sometimes difficult enough with small subjects, but even more so when they are above your head. I convinced myself the Canon 60D’s flip-out view screen with live view would come in handy for situations like this. Shots like these that I’d otherwise have missed make me feel better about the expenditure.

Spider in Lair

April 10th, 2012 - 9:20 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

December 30, 2011 | Quirinópolis, Goiás, Brazil

An unidentified spider peering out from its lair in a tree branch.

Clearwing Moth

April 9th, 2012 - 9:52 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~20mm wide | December 31, 2011 | Quirinópolis, Goiás, Brazil

This colorful moth in the family Arctiidae looks a little worse for wear. Nonetheless, it’s quite striking and I’m sure a fresh specimen must be even more so. I later saw another one of these near a porch light so it might be a common species.

While searching for a possible identification, I came across this blog posting. It describes how hundreds of caterpillars were invading people’s home in Piracicaba, São Paulo. With the help of a biologist, they found both the host plant and some pupae for rearing. What emerged looks very much like the moth above, identified as Cosmosoma teuthras, a common moth throughout Brazil. Check the site for photos of the caterpillars, pupae, and an adult. I have no idea if there are similar looking species, but it seems like a good possibility for what I found.

Identification Challenge #14 Reveal: Arched Hooktip

April 7th, 2012 - 11:00 AM | Filed under Identification Challenges | No comments

27mm wide | March 24, 2012 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

No one commented on the latest identification challenge. Despite showing just the tip of the forewing, the image provided showed the distinctive feature of a subfamily of moths commonly called hooktip moths. If you got that far, it’s a pretty simple process of elimination since there are only a handful of North American species, each one easily distinguished from the other. This species is the Arched Hooktip, Drepana arcuata.

This individual appears to be a male, based on the widely bipectinate antennae.

Male, based on antennae

As I mentioned in the original post, this moth was reared from a caterpillar I encountered late last year. They feed on alders and birches. I found this one on alder, within a leaf it had folder over using its own silk.

Sheltered within a folded alder leaf | 20mm long | October 29, 2011 | Buford, GA, USA

I raked my fingertip through the silk, in order to get a clearer view.

Clearer view

These caterpillars have enlarged warts, shown here.

Closeup of enlarged warts

It’s actually quite a handsome caterpillar. Note the bands on the head capsule, which no doubt inspired its common name, Masked Birch Caterpillar.

Frontal view

One other interesting thing about these caterpillars is that they scrape or beat parts of their anatomy against the leaf in order to advertise their presence to neighboring individuals. In this way they can space themselves out and avoid unnecessary competition.

Reference:

Caterpillars of Eastern North America
by David L. Wagner

Shield Bug, Taking Flight

February 16th, 2012 - 5:15 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

22mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This shield bug caught caught my eye mostly based on its relatively large size. What made the pursuit worthwhile though was accidentally catching it as it took flight. I enjoy getting to see some parts of the anatomy that are generally hidden.

Wings outstretched

Caterpillar

February 12th, 2012 - 2:26 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

13mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil