Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
A Fall Insect Walk (and more caterpillars!)
"Is this guy going to drive me buggy with another insect talk"? Yeeesssss!
"What's with all this in-your-face stuff"? This is one of our native brown stinks known as the Rough Stink Bug, Brochymena or Parabrochymena arborea.
Unlike the smooth Green Stink Bugs, the body of this one is bumpy. The ends of the wings have bleeding black veins. Check out the armor on the thorax and head region. While some Stink Bugs stick to feeding on plant juices, this one is a predator, seeking out other tasty insects. It's most commonly found camouflaged on trees with brownish bark and twigs.
Sticking with 'the bugs', I usually don't mess with immatures. They are often tough to figure out, and completely change as adults. This one can be identified by the black and red pattern of the abdomen, along with the yellow spots on the head and thorax. It is known as Podisus maculiventris.
A mature female of the Northern Walking Stick, Diapheromera femorata. They can be dark brown, tan, green, or a mixture of colors.
The smaller and skinnier male waiting on a female.
Somebody got lucky. There is more than Red Maple in the picture. Look for a mated pair.
A female Scorpionfly basks in the sun. These woodland insects are still flying in September and October. I once thought about taking all the Scorpionflies to species, until I read the keys. It is mostly based on genitalia dissection. People have tried to use the wing patterns for determination as well. The latest I read on this, the whole group needs revision, including using the mottled wings. So much for that task.
The appearance of comb like teeth on the front of the mouth are just the arrangement of the palps.
This pale looking Orthoptera is one of the Tree Crickets. I have been trying to gather a list of how many are in Ohio. I'm up to a dozen, but I don't have much in the way of references to go by. There are people in Ohio who study the sounds of this group, and I probably need to get with them. Like Field Crickets and Katydids, they are best identified by their calls.
There are some morphological characters you can look for. This is the Narrow-winged Tree Cricket, Oecanthus niveus. In this species there is an orange mark on the top of the head. It sometimes may bleed into the thorax. MOST importantly when figuring these to the species level, you have to see the black marks on the base of the antennae.
I really had to crop this picture in order to see that feature. On the first antennal segment, the mark is J shaped. I examined the specimen under a scope to be sure. This species is common state wide. Many Tree Crickets have very fast songs, some are long trills, and quite different than our more familiar black cricket calls.
Phosphila turbulenta. Turn that around and you have the common name, the Turbulent Phosphila. These caterpillars appear to have two heads. The rear end is black and white spotted. The actual head end has a Batman silhouette on the thorax. These striped caterpillars usually feed in groups, skeletonizing and defoliating types of Greenbriers (Smilax). The adult moth is rather dull in comparison.
Crowned Slug, Isa textula. This cat is usually much more green and red. I had never seen one so pale. The dark patches make it appear to be decomposing. Sure enough, upon probing it, it was dead. It's sitting on one of its major food plants, oak, so maybe it was parasitized.
A FAT caterpillar. So fat in fact, the legs and prolegs remain hidden far underneath. The red stripe on the back is sometimes only pale yellow. At first sight it appeared to have a single tail or horn, and with those yellow streaks on the side, I thought, maybe a Sphinx Moth. It happens to be the Mottled Prominent, Macrurocampa marthesia, a Notodontidae.
First, look at the head. A yellow-red knob is evident above a mottled pink face.
As it began moving around, I could see it didn't have a low riding horn, but two separate long tails instead.
A small unknown caterpillar is busy spinning silk between two sides of a leaf. As the silk tightens, the leaf will fold over, close, and form a little tunnel for the larva.
Here is one in hand. An orange head and collar, pin prick spots down the back, and small hairs out the side. Are they both the same species? It would appear so, but you have to rear them out to be sure. One was on Elderberry (Sambucus), the other on Raspberry (Rubus). These are Leaf-roller Moths in the family Tortricidae.
There are a lot of interesting things in the field of natural history. Some are down right amazing or awesome, and I don't use those words very often. Certain things catch my eye more than others, this is one of them. It's an egg cluster from one of the Green Lacewings (Neuroptera). The individual eggs are white, and suspended on long silken threads to keep them away from predators.
Lacewing eggs are usually laid in close proximity to Aphid populations, their favorite food. Many larvae will take pieces of lichen and moss and attach them to the hairs of the body, thus remaining hidden. For some excellent closeups of these critters, check out the recent post by Jim McCormac right here.
Diane Brooks and I came across this insect while at a workshop in September. It's not a good photo, but I stuck it in so you could see the outline. When Richard Bradley is pointing out spiders on a walk, you don't want to miss anything, so I was in a hurry. It looks a bit like a Rove Beetle, Stonefly, or even an oversized Thrips. This is another immature Lacewing, one which hunts openly, without any camouflage. It may be a Hemerobid family member, the Brown Lacewings. When practicing Integrated Pest Management, Lacewings are an excellent natural or Biological Control for gardeners and nursery growers.