Reports from the Field

Bug o’the Week – Closed for June 2 – Pollinators

Howdy, BugFans,

We’re getting a jump on National Pollinator Week (June 17 to 23) with a few articles about pollinators, which, if you like to eat or watch birds or photograph flowers or (add your favorites here ___________) are pretty indispensable.


Bug o’the Week – Closed for June I – Invasive species

Greetings BugFans,

YAY, it’s June!  That means that the BugLady is out on the trails, walking slowly, looking at everything and photographing half of it.  A probably-tasteful BOTW will be posted each week in June, but it won’t be a newly-minted, original episode.

It’s also June – National Invasive Species Action Month!  “Alien,” “Introduced,” “Exotic,” and “Non-native” are all words we use to describe species that aren’t from around here, like alfalfa and Golden retrievers, but those words are not synonymous with the word Invasive.


Bug o’the Week – Wetlands Month IV – Water Scavenger Beetle revised

Salutations, BugFans,

We’re wrapping up National Wetlands Week with a beetle that you don’t even need a magnifying glass to see! This is a revision of an episode that first aired in the summer of 2009 – new words; no new pictures.

BOTW hasn’t plunged underwater for several months now, but in this episode we will get a chance to get our collective gills wet again. Water scavenger beetles are hefty beetles (some measure more than 1 ½ inches) in the family Hydrophilidae that are easily mistaken for Predaceous Diving beetles of previous BOTW fame.


Bug o’the Week – Wetlands Month III – Ostracods

Salutations, BugFans,

We continue to celebrate Wetlands month with this slightly updated tale about ostracods, which originally aired in 2015.

By now it’s no secret that the BugLady is enthralled by wee aquatic critters, especially those that inhabit the waters of ephemeral ponds. Who needs charismatic megafauna! (and reminder – the BOTW definition of “bug” borrows more from that of a first grader than that of an entomologist).

Little bug – big story – put your feet up.


Bug o’the Week – Wetlands Month II – Common Water lily Planthopper revised

Salutations BugFans,

Week 2 of National Wetlands Month features an upgrade of an episode that first appeared in March of 2014. 

Water lilies are important plants in aquatic ecosystems.  At the very least, they provide a dry spot for insects (and frogs and others) to perch on – at most, they are hearth and home.  Various parts of the plants are eaten by organisms ranging from snails to moose, and the broad leaves modify/shade/cool the aquatic habitat below (the BugLady was tickled to see a few fish hiding under a lily leaf on a very hot day). 


Bug o’the Week – Wetlands Month I – Crawling Water Beetle

Howdy, BugFans,

While it is true that each organism has a scientific name that belongs to it alone and is universally recognized, the amazing world of common names is up for grabs. Common names are the names bestowed by people. The more abundant or beloved or notorious or scary an organism is, the more common names it’s likely to have collected.

So – what to name a small, yellowish, spotted, aquatic beetle that scrambles through the water, head down, in perpetual motion? That, rather than “rowing” its legs in synchrony like a water boatman, “dog-paddles,” moving its legs alternately, appearing to crawl through the water. OK – Crawling water beetle it is.


Bug o’the Week – American Emerald Dragonfly

Greetings BugFans,

The dragonfly season is starting – migrant Common Green Darners and Variegated Meadowhawks are filtering into the state, and visions of sugarplums (in the form of Chalk-fronted Corporals, Baskettails, and Eastern Forktails) are dancing in our heads! June will see the first of the Emeralds (family Corduliidae).


Bug o’the Week – Oblique-banded Leafroller Moth

Howdy, BugFans,

Oblique-banded Leafrollers (OBLRs) are in the family Tortricidae (accent on the first and third syllables), sometimes called the Tortricid/tortrix, leaf roller, and leaf tier moths. It’s a large group (10,000 species worldwide and 1,400 north of the Rio Grande) of small (wingspans of ½” to 1 ¼”), drab, bell/arrowhead-shaped moths, and even smaller caterpillars that are often green with dark heads. Some species are agricultural pests (spruce budworm and a variety of apple-lovers), and a few species are used as biological controls to deal with unwanted plants. Caterpillars of some Tortricid species bore into plant materials, and others feed on the exterior (and these caterpillars come equipped with a structure called an anal fork that allows them to flip their frass (bug poop) away from their bodies, so it won’t lead parasites or predators to them). Some are generalist feeders and some limit their diets. A few make galls.


Bug o’the Week – Green Lacewings

Howdy, BugFans,

These lovely, fragile-looking insects have fluttered around the edges of several BOTWs over the past 17-plus years, and it’s time for them to have an episode of their own.


Bug o’the Week – The Cicadas are Coming – a Tale in Four Parts

Greetings BugFans,

The insect world is gearing up to stage an event that is the entomological equivalent of the recent total solar eclipse. The buzz (if you’ll pardon the term) began a few months ago with articles in the New York Times and the Smithsonian newsletter. The event: the emergence of billions (with a “b”) of Periodical cicadas over a large chunk of the country south and east of Wisconsin. What one entomologist calls a “spectacular, macabre Mardi Gras” and another calls “a David Attenborough show in your backyard.”


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