Reports from the Field

Bug o’the Week – Coral Hairstreak Butterfly
by Kate Redmond

Howdy, BugFans,

Hairstreaks (and Blues and Coppers and Harvesters) are members of the Gossamer-winged butterfly family Lycaenidae (“Gossamer-winged” being a nod to the iridescent sheen on the wings of many family members).  Numbering nearly 5,000 mostly tropical species worldwide – 30% of butterfly species – Lycaenidae is the second-largest butterfly family (the Brush-foots outnumber them).  The BugLady associates hairstreak butterflies with butterfly weed and hot, sunny prairie days.  


Bug o’the Week – Cyrano Darner Dragonfly
by Kate Redmond

Howdy, BugFans,

It’s time for a dragonfly.  In fact, it’s past time for a dragonfly.  The BugLady has not seen this species yet (BugFan Freda has, and she contributed her pictures.  Thanks, Freda) but she’s looking forward to the end of the rain/sleet/graupel/freezing rain/snow season and to the return of the green so she can look for one.


Bug o’the Week – Horsehair worm Redux
by Kate Redmond

It’s a good thing that the common usage of the term “bug” is so inexact, because once again we are stretching its boundaries to/past the limits.

Horsehair worms are in the Phylum Nematomorpha (which is different from the Nematode worms). They’re skinny and long; this individual was maybe five inches long, but some species grow to one or two feet long. They have a hard, chitinous covering. They come in opaque yellow to tan to brown to black colors. They’re wiry and cylindrical, with little tapering at either end (unlike the nearby Nematodes).


Bug o’the Week – Cockroach 101
by Kate Redmond

The BugLady has been wanting to write about cockroaches for a long time (she has fond memories of the “X-Files” episode about them). She asked BugFan Tom if he had any pictures he could share, because she’s rarely seen one (expect when she spent a summer in Coastal Florida, where they call their lunker cockroaches Palmetto bugs), and her attempts at photographing them have failed miserably. He suggested that she has lived a sheltered life, indeed, and his friend, BugFan Joe, subsequently sent this picture. Thanks, Joe. This overview includes info about cockroaches in general and about cockroaches as the Bugs We Love to Hate. Maybe someday there will be a Cockroaches 102, exclusively about native roaches (send pictures!). Meanwhile, BugFan Joe’s picture of a Smokey Brown Cockroach will stand in as Everyroach.


Bug o’the Week – Carolina Leaf-roller Cricket – a Snowbird Special
by Kate Redmond

A while back, BugFan Tom sent these pictures of a Carolina leaf-roller cricket from the Deep South. Carolina leaf-roller crickets (Camptonotus carolinensis) are in the family Gryllacrididae, the Raspy crickets, a family we haven’t encountered before. And with good reason – although there are about 600 species in the family, all but one live elsewhere (with one-third of the known species, Australia is especially Raspy-cricket-rich). There’s only one genus in the family in North America, and only one species in that genus.


Bug o’the Week – Big Sand Tiger Beetle

Last fall, BugFan Joanne told the BugLady about a fabulous tiger beetle she saw in the dunes at Kohler Andrae State Park, and the BugLady was determined to find one this year. Tiger beetles are a wonderful group in the Ground beetle family Carabidae. They’re varied and beautiful (and surprisingly cryptic); they’re unapologetic predators as both larvae and adults; and they have a bunch of very cool adaptations – big eyes, excellent eyesight, long legs, and massive jaws that allow them to live and hunt pretty much out in the open. Tiger beetles have a lot of fans.


Bug o’the Week – Red Velvet Mite Again

We’re in the trough between Christmas and New Year’s Day. No-one knows exactly what day of the week it is, but whatever is on TV is sure to be a rerun. This BOTW is, too (well – a few new words). And a few corrections – when she posted the original episode in 2011, the BugLady threw in a few extra “h’s” where there aren’t supposed to be any – she misspelled both the (probable) family and the genus. They should be Trombidiidae and Trombium.

The BugLady has forever been amazed by Red Velvet Mites. Is there anything more unlikely than a wee arachnid that looks like a plump, brilliantly red plush Beanie Baby (though the BOTW series has been filled with the “unlikely”)? But seriously, why would a critter that dwells in soil and leaf litter bother to be so fancy?


Bug o’the Week – The Twelve Bugs of Christmas 2022

Wow! The 10th annual installment of The Twelve (or Thirteen) Bugs of Christmas! The Bugs of Christmas features shots, taken throughout the year, of insects and spiders who have already had their own BOTW, but who posed nicely.

It’s time once again to celebrate a year of bugs with this baker’s dozen collection of the beautiful, the odd, and the mysterious. Gifts. Right under our noses. All the time.


Bug o’the Week – Two Stink Bugs

The BugLady thinks stink bugs are cool and she loves finding species she hasn’t seen before. This year, she saw two new ones – the first one in a sand dune, and the second in a bog – but she suspects that habitat is secondary in the stink bugs’ game plan to the availability of food.

They’re called “stink bugs” because they have glands in the thorax that produce, as Eric Eaton says in the Field Guide to Insects of North America, “volatile aromatic compounds sure to repel all but the most desperate predators.” One author adds that “Stink bugs can smell pretty bad. Even my hens turn up their beaks when one crawls by…..”


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