I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
- North America (155)
- South America (171)
- Amphibians (10)
- Frogs and Toads (10)
- Arachnids (41)
- Fungi (3)
- Insects (215)
- Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives (44)
- Barklice (1)
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- Net-winged Insects (7)
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- Mammals (2)
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- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.
Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.
All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above.
Despite appearances, I promise this is not an underwater shot of some strange anemone. I brought this critter home from a recent walk in the park.
This could be a difficult challenge. Nonetheless, I bet someone will be able to identify the species shown here. To give you some sense of scale, I had my 65mm macro lens maxed out at 5x for this shot.
I assume these are hatched lacewing eggs, though I think there are other critters that lay stalked eggs as well. What I found interesting was how long the stalks are relative to the eggs. The lacewing eggs I usually find have relatively shorter stalks. Compare the hatched ones above with some unhatched ones below that I found in a park close to home.
Searching around the internet I see two common explanations for why eggs are laid on stalks. First, the stalks make it more difficult for predators such as ants to reach the eggs. The stalks are sometimes even coated with a repellent substance. Second, lacewing larvae are cannibalistic and the stalks serve to keep keep newly hatched larvae away from each other.
As I suspected, this challenge was easily met by all commenters.
It is of course Arilus cristatus, commonly known as the wheel bug for the very structure shown above. I didn’t get a full body shot of this specimen, but here’s a wider view.
Among the largest assassin bugs in North America, they can deliver a painful stab with that beak. I foolishly held one when I was a kid, and I’ll not be making that mistake twice.
For more info, see the species info page at BugGuide.
The blue on the upperside of the hindwings indicates this is a female. Here’s the underside of the wings:
If I’d had some daylight, I’d have tried to get something other than a black background. I saw she had emerged after arriving home one evening though, so I took these shots in my home office before releasing her.
Being a fresh specimen, I thought I’d try for some closeups of the wing scales.
I spotted this chrysalis on a tree trunk (looks like some sort of cherry). You can see in the first photo that it blends in pretty well. I took it home to see what would emerge. Something did, late the following April. Any ideas what it was?
This probably won’t help, but I couldn’t resist posting a closeup.
I found this caterpillar last fall. It was munching away on the flowers of what I believe to be wingstem. The plant was growing beside a walking trail at a forest edge.
Here are a couple of other views.
I’m basing the identification on similar photos of Basilodes pepita on BugGuide and in Wagner.
I like the bold colors. Wagner states that the combination of colors, behavior and foodplant suggest it might be unpalatable.
Reference:Caterpillars of Eastern North Americaby David L. Wagner
Chris Grinter agrees with me that this photo is of a sawfly in the genus Dimorphopteryx.
I first saw some photos of similar sawflies in this book:Insects:
Their Natural History and Diversityby Stephen A. Marshall
I then found some images on BugGuide.
It really is an odd looking critter. If I’d instead shown this view, it would have been more obvious, I think, that it’s a sawfly.
Here you can see the horns just behind the head.
Marshall reports that the “tubercle behind the head is eversible, and sticks out like a snake’s tongue when the insect is disturbed.” Cool. I wish I’d known that when I encountered it. I would have tried to coax it into displaying that behavior.
A few weeks ago I found this tortoise beetle, Deloyala guttata, on the underside of a sycamore leaf in a nearby park. Most of the time you only see tortoise beetles safely tucked away inside their “shell” (hence their name). I waited for this one to start moving around so I could get this shot.