Monthly Archives: July 2013

Random Insect: Six-spotted tiger beetle

Among the ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) there is a rather unique subfamily known as the tiger beetles (Cicindelinae). These insects are identified in part by their narrow thoraxes, wide-set eyes, and large mandibles. Most are predators of other arthropods. Generally … Continue reading

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Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Slender crab spider feeding on a signal fly

Many spiders build webs and passively wait for prey animals to be ensnared in their traps. Others like crab spiders (Araneae: Thomisidae) don’t build webs, but still passively wait to ambush prey. Some spiders, however, are active predators that stalk … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Aphids feeding on goldenrod

A few weeks ago I noticed these tiny red aphid nymphs (Hemiptera: Aphididae) feeding on a goldenrod (Solidago sp., Asteraceae). Scattered among them were a few larger adults. These insects use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to siphon sugary juices from their host … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Spotted spurge

Spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata, Euphorbiacae) is a fairly common weedy annual in much of the United States. Although native to the east it now inhabits the Pacific coast as well. It’s relatively intolerant of competition so it’s most often found … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Grapevine beetle

Grapevine beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Pelidnota punctata) can be found throughout much of eastern North America. Although larvae feed on decaying wood, the adults feed on the leaves and fruit of both wild and cultivated grapes (Vitis spp., Vitaceae). These beetles can grow to over … Continue reading

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Insect-Insect Interaction: Great golden digger wasp with a katydid

Great golden digger wasps (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) can be found throughout much of North America. They’re particularly common in areas that harbor wildflowers for adult nourishment, sandy soil for their nests, and insects for their larvae to eat. Prairies, … Continue reading

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Click beetle doing its thing

  Click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) get their common name from a neat trick they can perform. These insects have uniquely flexible thoracic joints that they can suddenly “snap” at will in order to launch themselves through the air. This movement … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Ailanthus webworm moth

Ailanthus webworm moths (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae: Atteva aurea) are relatively common natives of eastern North America. The colorfully-patterned adults can usually be found near old fields and meadows where they sip wildflower nectar. Most moths are nocturnal, but these individuals can … Continue reading

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Insect-Insect Interaction: Photuris and Photinus firefly beetles

Most people are probably familiar with firefly beetles (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). In the United States they’re particularly common in the south and east during early summer. Although not all firefly species can create light, those that do illuminate the warm nights … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Long-horned bee

When most people think of bees they probably think of imported honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apis mellifera) or native bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus spp.). With over 20,000 described species in six families, however, there are probably many more bees … Continue reading

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Random Fungus: Stinkhorn

So far this summer we’ve been receiving abundant rainfall here in southeast Michigan, and as a result a wide variety of fungi have been bursting forth from the ground. One I found most interesting was this particular stinkhorn fungus (Phallales: … Continue reading

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This is cool you should watch it: Impala escapes cheetahs after jumping into SUV

  This amazing footage was recently recorded at Kruger National Park in South Africa. I suspect that in its panic the impala (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Aepyceros melampus) jumped into the open SUV window on accident, rather than doing so intentionally in order … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Black and yellow mud dauber

Black and yellow mud daubers (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sceliphron caementarium) can be found throughout North America, often in proximity to humans. These industrious wasps collect mud to build their nests, typically securing them on hard, sheltered surfaces. While rocky outcrops suit … Continue reading

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Little white-tailed deer fawn

Last week I went out to a friend’s shed to get a tractor and stumbled upon this white-tailed deer fawn (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Odocoileus virginianus): I imagine this little deer must have wandered into the shed to hide, and perhaps enjoyed the cool shade … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Indian hemp

Native to North America, Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum, Apocynaceae) can be found in open areas along water, forests, and disturbed areas throughout most of the continent. This plant bears a resemblance to the related milkweeds (Ascepias spp., Apocynaceae) but is notable … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Insect-Insect Interaction: Eastern cottonwood, aphids, ants, and signal flies

The other day I was checking on an eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides, Salicaceae) that I planted in my yard two years ago. I noticed that many of the leaves were covered in aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in various stages of development. … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Tumbling flower beetle

With their long legs and humpbacked, wedge-shaped bodies, tumbling flower beetles (Coleoptera: Mordellidae) look somewhat like large fleas. While the larvae usually live in decaying wood, the adults are often found on flowers where they feed on pollen. Adult beetles … Continue reading

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Mourning Doves grow up so fast

  I’ve been following a family of Mourning Doves (Columbiformes: Columbidae: Zenaida macroura) for the last couple of weeks (Part 1, 2, 3) and on Friday I recorded this short video. The young squabs were still receiving regurgitated seeds from both parents, but they … Continue reading

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