Lady Beetle Larva
It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot afternoon today and I went out into the woods next to my building. As I walked through the underbrush under the sycamore, tulip poplar, redbud, walnut, and black cherry trees, I noticed this little creature on a leaf. This is the larva of a lady beetle. The family Coccinellidae, the lady beetles, has about 6,000 species in 360 genera worldwide and nearly 500 in eastern North America. I have no idea to which of those this larva belongs and I’m not even going to try to figure it out. The adults are generally easier to narrow down but to me, anyway, the larva are just too much alike. I found a key to the larva of North American lady beetles but it starts out as follows. Tell me how helpful this is to you:
Mandible with digitiform teeth, retinaculum absent; terga with scoli, sometimes with parascoli; frontoclypeal suture complete; antenna long, 3 or more times as long as wide, of nearly uniform diameter.
I went out to take some pictures of flowers this afternoon and that’s what I did at first. Well, first I got a few pictures of a rabbit (an eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus). Then I took a few flower pictures but I noticed this little fellow on a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It is the nymph of a Scudderia, a genus of eight species in our area comprising the bush katydids. This is just a small portion of the larger group of all katydids, of which there are nearly 250 species in 49 genera in eastern North America. Anyway, I think this is a cute little guy and I took quite a few pictures. Enjoy.
Speyeria cybele cybele (Great Spangled Fritillary)
I drove down to Lake Needwood on the way home today and stopped to take a few pictures. I followed a pair of fritillaries for a while and got a few half decent pictures. I also went after a great blue heron but wasn’t able to get anything worth while there. This is a great spangled fritillary and apparently there are at least 7 subspecies (and depending on who you ask, more than that). I naively assumed they were distinguished by variations in the patterns on their wings but apparently they are identified by distribution. Who knew? This was identified by the good people of BugGuide.net as subspecies S. c. cybele. Note: the red in the background is my car. I tried to get pictures without that but for this one, which turned out the best of the butterfly, it was unavoidable. Oh, well.
Skipper on Coreopsis
I sat on the patio for a while this afternoon, just enjoying being in the sun. It was actually a little hot for my taste, but still nice for all of that. Also, the light is better for macro photography in the sun, when you want as much depth of field and as fast a shutter speed as possible. I was watching the insects around the potted flowers on the patio and got a few pictures of this skipper (family Hesperiidae) on a coreopsis (a.k.a. tickseed) flower. The insects aren’t around it the huge numbers we’ll have in a few weeks, particularly when the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) starts to bloom, but they are certainly here and I really enjoy them.
I was out in the yard taking pictures this evening and after taking a few of the rose I just posted, I noticed that there were a lot of little insects moving around in the grass. When I say little, I’m talking about insects in the 2 to 3mm range. As I walked around, they leapt away from me. I got down on the ground but when they were not moving, they were hard to find. What I did find, however, was this exuviae, the exoskeleton of some small insect that left it behind on a blade of grass. It’s about 5mm long and appears to be from some sort of grasshopper or cricket. The word exuviae is Latin and means ‘things stripped from a body.’
Poecilocapsus lineatus (Four-lined Plant Bug)
I don’t know that I’d call this a serious pest but it certainly does make our garden look worse this time of year. This little bug has been here in pretty good numbers in recent years and they suck the juices out of some of our plants, making their leaves brown and desiccated. It generally doesn’t do the plant irreparable harm but it doesn’t do it much good, either. In past years I spray them and cut them off before they do their worst. This year I never got around to it and the damage is pretty well done at this point. They’re pretty, little things, I admit. But pests, nonetheless.