Fishflies can be found throughout much of eastern North America. Adults are generally found near the water that their aquatic larvae require (which is why the landlocked BugLady is always surprised to find them on her porch). Various species of Fishflies may live in streams and rivers or in still ponds; some, reported from ephemeral ponds or streams, can survive a short dry spell if well-buried in wet mud. They have also (uncommonly) been found in tree holes and in the pitchers of Purple pitcher plants.
Reports from the Field
The Striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) (vittatum means “banded” or “striped”) is on Wanted Posters of a whole slew of North American agricultural agencies east of the Rockies (it’s replaced in the Far West by Acalymma trivittatum). In fact, the Striped cucumber beetle is so notorious that the bugguide.net entry didn’t even pop up until page 5 of the internet hits. It’s in the huge leaf beetle family Chrysomelidae (one of the largest beetle families – 35,000-ish species total, 1,900 of them in North America). With 390,000 species worldwide, Coleoptera (the beetle order) is the largest single order in the entire animal kingdom.
Painted Skimmers are in the Skimmer family Libellulidae, which contains many of our more common and more colorful dragonflies, and they’re in the genus Libellula – large, sturdy, showy dragonflies, often with dramatically-patterned wings, that are often referred to as the King skimmers.
Gray Commas (Polygonia progne) are in the Brush-footed butterfly family Nymphalidae – “brush-footed” because their front pair of legs is small and “brush-like” and tucked in close to their body making them look like four-legged butterflies.
Water mites are common – abundant – denizens of shallow, quiet ponds, and a few species have adapted to life in rivers and streams. They’re everywhere except Antarctica, in tree holes, deep lakes, bogs, hot springs, rivers, swamps, and marshes. The word “ubiquitous” applies.
The BugLady loves standing next to flowers and photographing their visitors. Lots of insects – butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, flies, and ants – pollinate plants, but some are better at it than others. Bees seem to have been designed to do the job.
Bugs without Bios is dedicated to insects that stay below the radar (our radar, anyway) as they move through the world – they don’t make it into the field guides, and their internet presence is meager.
The BugLady has been stewing about this one for a long time. The flies appear on cue, on mild days in March and April (which they can do because they overwinter as adults). She takes their pictures, gets bogged down identifying them, and files them generically under “bluebottle flies.” The reason for her confusion is that there are similar species in several genera of several subfamilies of the Blow fly family:
This year, the BugLady has decided that it’s time to fish or cut bait, so she’s calling them Black blow flies and getting on with her life.
The BugLady has been enjoying the recent “tropical” temperatures (in the high 40’s) and her thoughts have been turning to butterflies. Someone asked her recently what butterflies might be aloft as spring approaches.
The Olympia Marble (Euchloe olympia), aka Olympian Marble and Olympia Marblewing, is in the family Pieridae (the Whites, Sulphurs, and Yellows). It’s found in a wedge-shaped patch of ground in the middle of North America, plus some disjunct populations in the Appalachians and Texas, and it’s the easternmost of the seven North American Marbles (Wisconsin and Michigan have the greatest numbers of the species). Within its range, it is local and uncommon.