Category Archives: Random Insect

Coastal Tiger Beetle

Coastal tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Ellipsoptera hamata) inhabit the shores of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to southern Texas. Adults can be found from April through December but are most common in June. Their striking coloration and patterning, narrow thoraxes, … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Tiger bee fly

This summer I have been noticing quite a few of these distinct large flies hanging out around my house in southeast Michigan. At first glance I thought they were in the horse fly family (Tabanidae) but they are actually in the bee … Continue reading

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Random Insect: False Blister Beetle

True blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) get their common name from their ability to produce cantharidin, a substance that can cause chemical burns. They produce this compound to ward off potential predators, including humans. A person who touches one of these … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Click Beetle

Click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) are unique insects because of a special trick they can perform. When they find themselves stuck upside-down or alarmed by a potential predator, they can suddenly “snap” their flexible thoracic joints to create a “click” sound and launch … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp

Ichneumon wasps are perhaps the largest animal family on the planet, made up of between 60,000 and 100,000 different species. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 can be found in North America, and of these eleven are of the genus shown here … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Scarites Ground Beetle

Of the nearly 3,000 known species of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) that inhabit North America, seven of them are members of the genus Scarites. These insects can be found in lawns, gardens, and fields throughout the spring and summer. They are relatively large and grow … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Spring Azure

Found in woodlands throughout much of eastern North America, spring azures (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Celastrina ladon) are rather eye-catching little butterflies. Relatively small in size, it is easy to overlook these insects when they are resting. The simple black-and-white pattern on … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Tachinid Flies

There are over 150,000 described species of flies (Diptera) in the world, making them one of the most diverse animal orders on the planet. Although they are divided into over 160 families, a full seven percent of all known fly species … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Greater Bee Fly

Common and widespread across much of North America, greater bee flies (Diptera: Bombyliidae: Bombylius major) are usually found in and around woodlands. Adults are typically encountered from March through May feeding on the nectar of early spring wildflowers. Their larvae, in contrast, … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Half-Wing Moth

Winter has been gradually giving way to spring, and the other day I was greeted by this Half-Wing moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae: Phigalia titea) resting on my front door. These insects are found mostly near wooded areas of the eastern US, and adults … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Winter stonefly

Although I’ve written about winter stoneflies (Plecoptera: Taeniopterygidae) once or twice before, the other day I came across an individual that represented the earliest one I had ever seen. On February 27 I was visiting my dad on his farm … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Fishfly

Fishflies (Megaloptera: Corydalidae: Chauliodes sp.) can be found throughout eastern North America wherever there are slow-moving rivers and floodplains. Their juvenile aquatic nymphs are omnivores, feeding on the decaying plant matter and small arthropods that litter these waters. After fattening up the nymphs … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Ichneumon wasp

It’s estimated that there are 60,000 to 100,000 species of Ichneumon wasps worldwide, with approximately 5,000 to 8,000 inhabiting North America. They make up what may be the largest family of animals on the planet, and as a result they’re … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Halloween pennant

Although I came across these Halloween pennants (Odonata: Libellulidae: Celithemis eponina) in late June, I thought I’d wait until a more festive time to post photos. The orange and black patterning does seem suggestive of jack-o’-lanterns. As with other dragonflies these … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Waved sphinx

Like most other sphinx moths, the waved sphinx (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae: Ceratomia undulosa) is a rather large insect. The individual shown here was about two inches (50 mm) in length, and wingspans typically reach 3-4 inches (76-102 mm). This species gets its … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Caddisfly

Caddisflies (order Trichoptera) are often mistaken for moths (Lepidoptera) because they share a number of similarities. Like some moths, caddisflies hold their wings tent-like over their abdomens when at rest. Like some moths they are often attracted to lights at … Continue reading

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Random Insect: White-spotted sawyer beetle

Found throughout conifer forests of North America, white-spotted sawyer beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae: Monochamus scutellatus) are economically important tree pests. They attack several species of pines (Pinus spp., Pinaceae) and spruces (Picea spp., Pinaceae) as well as balsam firs (Abies balsamea, Pinaceae), often … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Darkling beetle

Darkling beetles (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) make up a large and diverse group of insects, with over 1000 known species in North America alone. Over 20,000 are known throughout the world, and species vary considerably in appearance. I suspect the individual shown here … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Stilt bug nymph

Stilt bugs (Hemiptera: Berytidae) are small, delicate insects that can be recognized in part by their long, thin legs and long, thin antennae that are slightly enlarged at the tips. As hemimetabolous insects these true bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis. Unlike … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Root maggot fly

With over 600 species in about 40 genera in North America alone, root maggot flies (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) are an abundant and diverse group of insects. The adults of most genera feed on nectar, but some feed on pollen and others … Continue reading

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