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)
- Beetles (27)
- Butterflies and Moths (55)
- Cockroaches (2)
- Dragonflies (1)
- Earwigs (1)
- Flies (20)
- Grasshoppers and Relatives (9)
- Mantids (3)
- Net-winged Insects (7)
- Termites (5)
- Thrips (1)
- True Bugs (57)
- Walkingsticks (1)
- Webspinners (1)
- Mammals (2)
- Millipedes (1)
- Polyxenids (1)
- Plants (3)
- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
These beetles are tiny. Each one is only a few millimeters long.
There were quite a few of these reddish tortoise beetles feeding on this banana plant.
They feed on the large leaves, scarring them in a distinctive way.
Here you can see one munching its way forward, carefully feeding only between the leaf veins.
Did you notice the little hitchhiker above? Looks like some sort of parasitic wasp to me. I suspect this is probably a female beetle, and the wasp is just hanging out until she lays eggs, which the wasp will then parasitize. Here’s a closer look.
They’d often fly away from me once I started taking pictures, but it was no trouble to find another one.
I really love the colors on this snout beetle. Check out the detail. The image is not quite as sharp as I’d like, but just look at all those little colorful scales.
This plant was being devoured by dozens of these attractive blister beetles. Above I’ve caught one with a leaf fragment in its mouth. Below, you can see how they’ve stripped a branch clean. The frass seems to be exiting just about as fast as the plant goes in (must be a good source of fiber).
As these pictures show, the plant was literally crawling with these beetles.
The dark backgrounds here are an effect of the camera flash. This was actually happening in broad daylight. How are they able to risk doing that? Blister beetles are so named because they defend themselves with a caustic compound, cantharidin, found in their blood. Predators soon learn to avoid them.
That’s the general scene. I encountered these army ants on the side of the trail towards the end of the afternoon. The odd thing is that I didn’t see much more than what’s shown here. There were a couple of holes in the ground, outside the shot above, but roughly in the upper left and lower right. Despite some searching in the nearby vicinity, I didn’t find any other ant trails. But there were ants streaming in and out of the two holes, forming roughly two paths. The bottom path was moving to the right and the top to the left.
This beetle looks like a buprestid to me. The interesting thing is that it’s splitting this leaf lengthwise. In the second photo, you can see where the cut starts in the upper right. That would seem like an odd way to eat, so I suspect there’s some other purpose. Is anyone familiar with this behavior?
There’s also what appears to be a small wasp hanging out on the elytra.
I resisted the urge to touch this one. It just looks so soft.
This longhorned beetle blends in pretty well with these stems.
Some longhorned beetles are known as girdlers and that name might be aptly applied here. See the damage to the stem in the upper right? I didn’t witness it, but I suspect this beetle is responsible. In fact, given the bending of the stem under its head, it may very well have been chewing away when I took this photo. Further evidence is the frass present, indicating it’s been here awhile.
Why girdle? Some beetles that do it deposit an egg in the stem and then effectively kill the stem by chewing a ring into it. The stem beyond the girdle eventually dies and falls to the ground. The stem provides nourishment for the beetle larva and is then well placed for the grub to later escape into the soil where it completes its development.
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.
I’ve seen variations on this pattern for tortoise beetles throughout Central and South America. I often see the species referred to as target tortoise beetles, though a quick google search seems to confirm my suspicion that that common name applies to many different species across several genera.