Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wheel Bug

Arilus cristatus nymph on devil's trumpet

I really hope this juvenile assassin bug hangs around in my garden! This species is called a wheel bug because as an adult it has a structure on its pronotum ("back") that resembles part of a cogwheel.

Adult wheel bug, photo courtesy of J

Monday, April 20, 2015

Corpse Flower

Amorphophallus titanum

On my lunch break today I visited the blooming corpse flower at the Rollins College greenhouse in Winter Park, FL. They have been caring for the plant for 11 years and its bloom only lasts about 36 hours. It is considered a rare event as it only blooms once every 9-12 years, and only about 200 have bloomed under cultivation worldwide since its western discovery in the late 1800s. It is  about 5' tall and smells like something familiar...I couldn't quite place it at the moment, but my colleague and fellow petstore alumnus, L,  helped me quickly: small frozen critters (like rats) that are about to turn rancid. The flower uses the nasty odor to attract cadaver flies and carrion beetles which pollinate the plant.  I had to stick my nose over the edge of the petals to smell it, I later found out it was past its peak smelly-time. This link leads to a live streaming video. 

(And...Part of my diligent note-taking at the meeting this morning)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In-between Thunderstorms

Phyllomydas parvulus, female
 Thunderstorms are one of my favorite things about Florida and I am enjoying this last week's odd weather pattern: afternoon thunderstorms (typical of summer) in April. Glancing out the window at the Dirt Patch I noticed an interesting insect shape and quickly stumbled over myself to grab the camera and dart outside. Success! At a distance I thought, perhaps it is a sawfly (a relative of bees and wasps)...but then its Diptera (fly) characteristics became more apparent: one set of wings (the halteres are clearly visible above) and sucking mouthparts. This is a smaller species of Mydas fly. The female is brightly colored as seen here, and the male is a more uniform black.

Prepops fraternus
 While photographing the Mydas fly, this guy flew past me and into the palmetto. It is a species of plant bug in the family Miridae.

Euthyrhynchus floridanus
I am so glad I planted the onion last December - it has attracted all kinds of interesting insects (it was a grocery store onion which began sprouting in my fridge, so I thought, "what the hell?" and planted it). Above is a predatory stinkbug on the flower stalk of the onion...NEAT! The majority of stinkbugs are vegetarians, but this is a stinkbug that will eat other stinkbugs and insects which cause a lot of damage to plants. It paused to clean the excess water from its proboscis - and my camera chose this moment to forget how to focus on its subject.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Flower Longhorn Beetle & Antlion

 Typocerus zebra on an onion flower

They feed on pollen. This one is covered in it.

 There was also this antlion larva uncharacteristically moving around outside of its sandy death trap. The larva inches backwards in jumpy erratic movements

 The moment it touched sand it began forming a new funnel.

"...the hell is she fussing over?"

*sigh* "...humans"
(Maceo: putting up with my nonsense).

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Insects of the Day

Small-footed fly, family Micropezidae
Doing its odd little tap-dance

Another species of Micropezidae mating.

Acanthocephala femorata (likely)
 There were a lot of these large leaf-footed bugs (Coreidae) in the woods today. From head to abdomen they're a bit over an inch long. 

This one is busy sucking sap from the tree with its proboscis.

Luna no more

A species of hairstreak butterfly (Theclinae)

Telebasis byersi, duckweed firetail damselfly. 
This one flitted about everywhere, even landed on my shirt, but was impossible to get a decent photo of.

 Utetheisa ornatrix, bella moth (Arctiinae)

 Underside of bella moth.

A bush katydid nymph (Scudderia)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Raining Waterscorpions

Nepidae, Ranatra

Last week someone backed into my car at a stop sign and put their trailer hitch through my bumper. This week it's being repaired so I have a rental car. Today I noticed what at first glance looked like mantids on the windshield of the rental.

Edging closer, I realized excitedly these were not mantids (though let's face it, I would have been excited to find mantids) but waterscorpions! Aquatic hemiptera! Unfortunately the poor things fried to a crisp on the car. I've heard theories that perhaps when they (aquatic hemiptera) take flight to find a better pond or breeding grounds, the reflection of a car window can confuse them. Thinking it's water, they crash land, stun themselves, and bake in the sun. Ordinarily my car is covered in a thick veneer of dust from the dirt road I live off of, unlike this shiny rental, presumably saving the creatures from such a fate (what I'm doing here is justifying never washing my car). 

There were five in total.

The cerci ('tail') form a long breathing tube
The front legs are adapted for grasping prey similar to mantids. The very short beak can give a painful bite.