Monthly Archives: September 2013

Random Insect: Metallic green bee

Metallic green bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Agapostemon spp.) are found only the new world, but they range all the way from British Columbia to Argentina. Although there are over 4,000 known species of sweat bees, this particular subgroup contains only about 44 … Continue reading

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Wiggling beech blight aphids

Beech blight aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae: Grylloprociphilus imbricator) can form dense colonies as they feed on the sap of American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia, Fagaceae). The white fluffy bits aren’t parts of the aphids themselves, but instead are feathery, waxy secretions … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Locust borer on a goldenrod

Locust borers (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae: Megacyllene robiniae) are common beetles in many parts of the United States. While adults can feed on pollen from a variety of flowers, they have a distinct preference for goldenrods (Solidago spp., Asteraceae). These widespread plants flower … Continue reading

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Random Arachnid: Banded argiopes at dawn

Spider webs are far more visible when they’re covered with dew, and this morning I saw scores of them filling the low foliage of a local meadow. Although many different spiders build many different kinds of webs (and some don’t … Continue reading

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Yellow-bellied marmot

Of the six marmot species in North America only two have a widespread distribution. Groundhogs (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Marmota monax) are exceedingly common in the east, but yellow-bellied marmots (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Marmota flaviventris) dominate the mountainous west. These ground squirrels inhabit slopes from the … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Tall morning glory

Although native to the American tropics, tall morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea, Convolvulaceae) has been spread throughout much of temperate North America by humans. Gardeners favor this plant for its big heart-shaped leaves, beautiful purple flowers, and its attractiveness to butterflies and … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Common tree cricket

Although not often seen, common tree crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae: Oecanthus sp.) can often be heard throughout much of North America in the late summer and autumn. Adult males spend a great deal of time “singing” in an attempt to attract mates. … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Big devils beggartick

Big devils beggartick (Bidens vulgata, Asteraceae) is a native of wetlands from the northern plains through the northeast. It’s most commonly found in marshes, floodplains, moist meadows, damp open woodlands, along drainage ditches, and in disturbed areas with sufficient sunlight … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect-Insect-Insect Interaction: Spiny assassin bug feeding on a plant bug on a giant ragweed with accompanying flies

Although giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida, Asteraceae) is perhaps most often associated with allergies, this plant also hosts a variety of insect drama in the late summer and autumn. The other day I saw a number of plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae) feeding … Continue reading

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Insect-Insect Interaction: Lady beetle larva feeding on an aphid

The majority of lady beetle species (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are well-known control agents for a variety of crop pests. They’re perhaps most commonly associated with aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae), tiny sap-feeding insects that can cause significant damage to cultivated plants. Beneficial lady beetles will … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Lunate zale

One morning last month I found this lunate zale (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Zale lunata) clinging to my front door. Like many other insects these moths are attracted to lights at night and can often be found resting in their proximity at … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Plains pricklypear

Ranging from Canada to Mexico, plains pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha, Cactaceae) is common throughout much of the west. One of several dozen native pricklypears, this particular species is well-adapted to a variety of habitats. This cactus can be found anywhere from the … Continue reading

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Plant-Insect Interaction: Goldenrod soldier beetles on a variety of wildflowers

Although adult goldenrod soldier beetles (Coleoptera: Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) are often associated with goldenrod (Solidago sp., Asteraceae), these insects will happily feed on nectar and pollen from a variety of other wildflowers. The other day I found them not only on … Continue reading

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Northern leopard frog

Northern leopard frogs (Anura: Ranidae: Rana [Lithobates] pipiens) are well-adapted to a variety of habitats and can be found throughout much of North America. These relatively cold-tolerant amphibians range well into Canada and through elevations up to 11,000 feet. During … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Sunset cicada molt

When cicada nymphs (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) hatch they can spend anywhere from two to seventeen years feeding on roots underground. After they’ve sufficiently grown and developed they emerge from the ground, crawl upward, and molt into adults. The adults then crawl … Continue reading

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Insect Love: Tiger crane flies

The other day I came across this pair of tiger crane flies (Diptera: Tipulidae: Nephrotoma sp.) mating on my lawn. Although crane flies superficially resemble large, scary mosquitoes they do not bite. Most don’t even eat. Adults typically live just … Continue reading

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