Monthly Archives: June 2011

Random Insect: Another common midge

In late April I wrote about a few common midges (Diptera:  Chironomidae) that I found here in southeast Michigan.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed different midges in the genus Axarus.  All of the midges in these photos … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider waiting for a meal on a roughleaf dogwood

I often come across crab spiders (family Thomisidae) whenever I’m looking at flowers, and I’ve written about them twice before.  Last fall I found one waiting for prey on a daisy fleabane, and last month I found one that had … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Roughleaf dogwood

Judging by the literature I’ve read on Michigan flora, it seems that the most common dogwoods (Cornus sp., Cornaceae) in this area are supposed to be flowering dogwood (C. florida) and redosier dogwood (C. sericea).  In the areas I most … Continue reading

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Ants…On The March

Last week I came across hundreds (if not thousands) of tiny worker ants (Hymenoptera:  Formicidae) foraging for food.  They were particularly dense in an area of about four square feet, although they trailed off in lesser numbers in several directions.  … Continue reading

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Insect-Insect Interaction: Carpenter ant collecting a dead mayfly

The other day it was hard to miss this large carpenter ant (Camponotus sp., Formicidae) wrestling with an even larger mayfly corpse (order Ephemeroptera).  I came across this scene in a wooded area above the River Raisin in southeast Michigan.

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Soldier beetles on a roughleaf dogwood

Adult soldier beetles (family Cantharidae) are usually found on flowers, and these individuals were no exception (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).  I noticed a number of them crawling around on a roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii, Cornaceae), feeding on nectar and pollen.  … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Treehopper nymphs on a black walnut

The other day I found a ton of these treehopper nymphs (family Membracidae) feeding on a black walnut tree (Juglans nigra, Junglandaceae).  They seem consistent with nymphs of the genus Enchenopa. These young bugs were congregating mostly around the leaf … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Dusty-wing

The other day I found this tiny insect here in southeast Michigan.  It was resting on a black walnut leaf (Juglans nigra, Junglandaceae) above the River Raisin early on a warm, sunny morning.  I wasn’t sure what it was at … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Staghorn sumac

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina, Anacardiaceae) is a common large shrub or small tree in the northeastern United States.  It’s intolerant of shade, and I frequently see it along roadways and the edges of wooded areas here in southeast Michigan.  It … Continue reading

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Insect Love: Signal flies

When checking out some squash bugs on zucchini plants, I noticed a couple of mating signal flies (Rivellia sp., Platystomatidae).  These insects get their name from their tendency to wave their wings as if signaling.  The two shown here weren’t … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Squash bug on zucchini plant

Back in March I found one of these squash bugs (Anasa tristis, Coreidae) overwintering in a rotting tree here in southern Michigan.  Now that it’s warm and their favorite food plants are flourishing, they’re out in force.  I found a … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Spicebush swallowtail butterfly

Last August I photographed a black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes, Papilionidae), and when I found this butterfly in a southern Michigan greenhouse I initially thought it was the same thing.  A closer inspection of the markings on the undersides of the … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Philadelphia fleabane

Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus, Asteraceae) is a common native weed throughout most of North America.  Also called common fleabane, this aster features yellow disc florets and up to 250 thin ray florets that vary in color from white to pink … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Horned squash bug on yellow straightneck squash

When looking at some yellow straightneck squash plants (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae) in a Michigan greenhouse the other day, I found a bunch of these horned squash bugs (Anasa armigera, Coreidae).  If you zoom in on the head, you can see … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Common mallow

Widespread and occurring in disturbed areas, common mallow (Malva neglecta, Malvaceae) was introduced to North America from Eurasia (Brandenburg 2010).  This plant features low clusters of round or kidney-shaped leaves and small white flowers with pink stripes.  I noticed the … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Caddisfly

Caddisflies (order Trichoptera) resemble some moths (order Lepidoptera) that also hold their wings roof-like over their abdomens.  One way to tell them apart is to look closely at their wings.  Like butterflies, moths have wings that are covered in scales.  … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Striped cucumber beetle on yellow straightneck squash

While out in a southeast Michigan greenhouse the other day, I noticed some striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum, Chrysomelidae) on yellow straightneck squash plants (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae).  Adult beetles feed on the leaves of many plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Common motherwort

I didn’t recognize this plant when I first found it growing behind some greenhouses in southeast Michigan.  When going about identification, the first trait I focused on was the fact that the stems were four-sided in profile: While four-sided stems … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Midland clubtail dragonfly

Yesterday I noticed several of these midland clubtail dragonflies (Gomphus fraternus, Gomphidae) near the River Raisin in southeast Michigan.  This species is concentrated around the Great Lakes and adults only appear for a few weeks in and around June. Clubtails … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Flower fly on a Philadelphia fleabane

Today I came across some Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus, Asteraceae) being visited by a large number of insect pollinators.  In addition to some bees, the flower heads were attracting various flower flies (family Syrphidae).  Although these flies resemble bees, one … Continue reading

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