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

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

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 delivered to your inbox each Tuesday 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.  Having left their predators in the Old Country, invasive species achieve populations that negatively affect their habitat and native species.  Not all invasive species are from another continent – Rusty crayfish, invasive in Wisconsin, hail from the southeastern part of the country.

Here, from the BugLady’s massive “Bugs in the News” file is an article about an invasive hornet that is NOT the Asian giant/Murder hornet (which has been given the new, less offensive name Northern giant hornet) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/invasive-yellow-legged-hornet-spotted-in-the-us-for-the-first-time-180982750/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=48657538&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2522438973&spReportId=MjUyMjQzODk3MwS2

And one about an invasive tick https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/an-invasive-tick-that-can-clone-itself-is-spreading-across-us-threatening-livestock-180983323/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49123309&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2582666542&spReportId=MjU4MjY2NjU0MgS2.

And speaking of ticks, the BOTW about Deer ticks is worth a reread, since the deer tick season has been in high gear here in God’s Country for months: https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/deer-ticks-revisited/.   

Accompanying these articles are pictures of a Eurasian butterfly that we often forget is not native – the Cabbage Butterfly, which introduced itself into Canada 150 years ago and whose caterpillar https://bugguide.net/node/view/1733638/bgimage was, for a long time, called the “Imported Cabbageworm” (if you’re a gardener, you probably know this one already https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/cabbage-whites-and-sulphurs-redux/.

And a picture of a really beautiful little beetle that arrived in the Detroit area from China about 20 years ago and that has changed the landscape here in Wisconsin and in much of North America east of the Great Plains – the Emerald ash borer (EAB) https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/emerald-ash-borer-redux-family-buprestidae/.  When it first appeared, the DNR predicted that it would demolish 99.9% of Wisconsin’s ash trees.  Their flight period is about to start.

And a Deer tick.

Not all invasive species are insects – see the Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium (SEWISC) for information about invasives near you www.sewisc.org (they’d love a donation, too). 

For more information about the organizations that are educating about and fighting invasives in Wisconsin, see https://widnr.widen.net/view/pdf/hpxkc6dtm9/InvSp_RegionalCISMAList.pdf?t.download=true&u=kkadwx

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

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 (family Dytiscidae https://bugguide.net/node/view/1415131/bgimage) of previous BOTW fame (https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/predaceous-diving-beetle/).  Other than sharing their classification in the beetle Order Coleoptera, they are not closely related.  North America hosts more than 250 species of Water scavenger beetles, including an introduced, non-aquatic species that makes itself at home in dung, where its larvae eat maggots (fly larvae).

The usually-black, dome-shaped Water scavenger beetles https://bugguide.net/node/view/1644233/bgimage look a little less streamlined than the usually-black Predaceous diving beetles, and their flat, ventral surfaces often sport a keel.  , In contrast to the Predaceous diving beetle’s oar-like strokes https://bugguide.net/node/view/1811015/bgimage, the Water scavenger beetles’ swimming involves alternate left-right-left-right strokes of their flattened, hairy, second and third pairs of legs https://bugguide.net/node/view/378043/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1925805/bgimage.  Their swimming may be clumsy by comparison, but scavengers don’t need the speed and maneuverability of predators.  They are good flyers https://bugguide.net/node/view/742111/bgimage that may leave their watery homes and fly to lights at night (just scoop them up in a paper cup and return them to the water). 

Along with their beetle classification, they also share with Predaceous diving beetles the shallow waters of freshwater ponds and quiet stream edges, although Water scavenger beetles like their weedy, algae-choked habitat a bit warmer than Predaceous diving beetles do.  What they do not share is a lifestyle.  Adult Water scavenger beetles (depending on species) may feed on their aquatic neighbors or may be recyclers, with a food pyramid that includes algae and, as their name suggests, decaying vegetation and dead animal tissue.    

The very-carnivorous Water scavenger beetle larvae (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1872987/bgimage) are described as “sluggish” and are found crawling on the pond floor or climbing on underwater vegetation.  The larvae are couch-potato versions of the sleek Predaceous diving beetle larvae/water tigers (https://bugguide.net/node/view/2276347/bgimage), though they sometimes share the same “water tiger” moniker.  Their feeding category is “engulfer-predator” – they use their powerful, hollow jaws https://bugguide.net/node/view/183298/bgimage to subdue and then vacuum out the juices of their prey.  Their food-list includes their brethren, along with other aquatic invertebrates (they love mosquito larvae) and they also go after tadpoles, snails, and mini-fish. 

According to Eaton and Kaufman, in the Field Guide to Insects of North America, some species of Water scavenger beetles can squeak by rubbing their abdomen against the underside of their wing covers.  Wikipedia lists a repertoire of “stress calls, a male courtship call, a male copulating sound, and a female rejection buzz.”

Water scavenger beetles overwinter as adults, and in early summer, females lay eggs in a cocoon-like structure that’s attached to aquatic plants or left to float like a raft.  In The New Field Book of Freshwater Life, Elsie Klots says that the egg case of one genus includes a vertical “mast” that extends above the water’s surface.  The mast may be involved with respiration, but it may also be an escape hatch for larvae – escape being vital in a group whose young hatch from eggs within a case and immediately start chowing-down on their siblings.  A case may hold 100+ eggs at the start, but cannibalism reduces the number of larvae that live to exit. 

They spend a month underwater as larvae and then leave the water and create a pupal cell by scooping away soil with their mandibles.  It takes them 36 to 48 hours to dig a hole that’s three inches deep.  They climb in and pupate, reappearing as adults in a few weeks.

Predaceous diving beetles breathe, as many aquatic insects do (and as Water scavenger beetle larvae do), by backing their rear end up to the water’s surface and taking in air with a tube or pore (some Water scavenger beetle larvae also have exterior, branched gills https://bugguide.net/node/view/1058195/bgimage).  Adult Water scavenger beetles break through the surface film with un-wet-able (“hydrophobic”) antennae that form a funnel through which air is transported.  Oxygen is stored in a space under the elytra (hard wing covers), and the beetle takes that air into its body through its spiracles (breathing pores).  The nickname “silver-beetle” is a nod to its secondary source of oxygen – a film of air bubbles that typically covers the beetle’s flat ventral surface, trapped there in a layer of thick hairs.  Air held in these hairs can be renewed from oxygen suspended in the water, allowing the beetle to stay under longer.    

It seems that Water scavenger beetles have a Super Power – at least, one Australian species does!  It’s the ability to locomote on the underside of the surface film (remember – due to electrical charges, the layer of water molecules at the surface of a body of water is “tougher” than the molecules below it, which is what allows some insects to skate along its surface.  This same surface tension makes it hard for small critters to break through from below).  See the video here https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/beetle-can-walk-along-underside-waters-surface-180978115/.  Snails and leeches can do this, too.

The air trapped on the underside of its body may help the beetle stay “belly-up” without using extra energy, giving it enough buoyancy to stroll along under the surface film without breaking through, though each footstep makes the water dimple upwards (scientists don’t know exactly how the beetle’s feet get traction).  Researcher John Gould recounted seeing the phenomenon for the first time, “The beetle was casually walking along the underside of the water’s surface with ease while upside down. Every now and then, it would come to a stop, and then kept plodding along across the surface as if it was walking across any regular solid.” 

How does the beetle do this?  Why?  Are there other beetles that do it?  Scientists who collect aquatic beetles report that when they roil up the substrate with their nets, beetles often float up to the surface.  But do they walk around up/under there, or do they return to their normal haunts ASAP?  So many questions – stay tuned.

WATER SCAVENGER BEETLE MISCELLANIA:

J. Reese Voshell, Jr, in A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, says that “beetle” comes from the Old English “bitula” – “to bite” – a reference to the strong jaws of adult beetles. 

Shelly Cox, in her blog called “MOBUGS – Missouri’s Majority,” shares a great (but unattributed) quote about Water scavenger beetles – “This is a water beetle. It is the hardest object in the world to pick up with tweezers. The second hardest is Mount Everest.”  The BugLady can’t speak to either of those.

Once upon a time, a Naturalist named Linda Bower wondered what she would see if she put a camcorder in a pond.  A whole lot, as it turned out.  She has expanded her gaze to include terrestrial bugs and non-insects, as you will see if you check the excellent offerings at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ2iEp9598fAgiqdMwMZX_g.  Glimpses of a world that exists under our radar.  For the Aquatic playlist click on “Life in and Around the Pond.”  

And remember – Every Month is Wetlands Month (and every fifth living thing is a beetle)!  

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Wetlands Month I Crawling Water Beetle

Howdy, BugFans,

May is National Wetlands Month, and the BugLady is celebrating by re-posting episodes about aquatic critters from deep in the BOTW archives (this one is from 2012, with some new words added).

The BugLady heard an interesting interview on the radio a while back in which the guest said that non-scientists are intimidated by the feeling that they must know the exact names of the plants and animals on their landscapes in order to discuss them, and that the belief that those names belong only to scientists causes people to become estranged from the natural world.  Yes and no.  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, often regionally, who experience an organism where the rubber meets the road.  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.

There are almost 70 species of Crawling Water Beetles (family Haliplidae) in North America, divided up among four genera (this beetle belongs to the most common genus, Haliplus) (probably) – Haliplus, because the other common genus, Peltodytes, has two spots on the thorax, just north of the elytra (wing covers).  Identification to species can be tricky and gets very up close and personal.  A Crawling water beetle that’s ¼” long is a big Crawling water beetle.  Haliplids favor still, shallow water and the pool areas of streams and rivers everywhere (except Antarctica) (they favor temperate regions), and the BugLady read about an endangered Irish species that lives in tidal salt marshes.  Three of Wisconsin’s Crawling water beetle species are listed as rare.

Crawling water beetles that live in ponds and lake edges can be found scrambling through the water column or feeding in mats of aquatic plants, especially algae.  Where there is a current, look for them in crevices between rocks.  Unlike many of their aquatic brethren, Crawling water beetles are bulky (one source said “barrel-shaped”), mediocre swimmers that are not streamlined, and other than some long hairs on their back four feet, their legs are not adapted for swimming (they are weak fliers, too, on wings that are rolled – not folded – under the elytra when not in use). 

Their two hind legs are modified – but they’re modified for breathing.  The sections at the base of each hind leg (closest to the body) are greatly flattened to form “coxal plates” that meet under the beetle.  Together, the coxal plates cover part of the thorax and abdomen and create a second space to carry oxygen.  When it needs oxygen, a Crawling water beetle backs up to the surface film, takes in air, and stores it in an area on its back, above its abdomen and beneath its elytra.  A reserve supply is cached between the coxal plates and the lower surface of the abdomen, and it is in communion with the air under the elytra.  Insects take in air through breathing pores called spiracles, and there are spiracles located under the coxal plates. 

A bubble of air peeking out from under the elytra helps Crawling water beetle float to the water’s surface (a Crawling water beetle that’s low on air loses buoyancy and must clamber back up the vegetation).  The long, skinny Crawling water beetle larvae http://bugguide.net/node/view/327585 simply breathe through their skin and don’t develop spiracles until they are almost ready to pupate.   

There’s a lot of variation in Crawling water beetle larvae across the various genera https://bugguide.net/node/view/280859/bgimage

Crawling water beetles lay their eggs on submerged aquatic plants, especially filamentous algae.  Some excavate small holes in the plant tissue and lay their eggs inside.  The short-legged, hook-footed larvae creep about on algae mats, where they are well-camouflaged, playing dead when alarmed (alarmed adults make for the bottom of the pond and cling to plant stems there), feeding on their algal substrate with mouthparts that are adapted for grabbing algae, piercing its walls, and sucking out its juices.  Larvae that are too tiny to puncture the tough cell walls feed on the fungi and bacteria on the algae’s exterior.  Adults continue to feed on algae, but they add protein to their diet in the form of tiny invertebrates like worms, daphnia, and midge eggs.  They are eaten by fish, salamanders, and larger aquatic insects.

Crawling water beetle larvae pupate on the shore, in a cell they prepare under a rock or log near the water’s edge.  Their new-found spiracles allow them to breathe out of water.  Some species spend the winter as pupae; others emerge to spend the winter in the water as adults. 

Adults can be found in the water all year round, moving slowly under the ice in winter and congregating in deep spots where the photosynthesis of aquatic plants provides oxygen.  Larvae are seen in spring. 

Haliplids are among the many shy, retiring insects who live their lives off our radar, simply because their lives don’t impact ours in any economic way (“man is the measure of all things,” said the BugLady’s high school English teacher).

The BugLady photographs aquatic invertebrates as they swim around in a white, plastic spoon.  Crawling water beetles do not stop and pose.  Here are some better pictures https://bugguide.net/node/view/262970/bgpagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/938881/bgimage.

Go outside.  Name stuff!

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Bugs without Bios XIX

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bugs without Bios XIX

Howdy, BugFans,

Bugs without bios – those humble (but worthy) bugs about whom little information is readily available.  Today’s bugs check those boxes as species, but they have something in common – their lifestyles are similar to those of close relatives who have already starred in their own BOTW.

The BugLady found this PREDACEOUS DIVING BEETLE (Hydacticus aruspex) (probably) in shallow water that was so plant-choked that the beetle had trouble submerging.  Diving beetles are competent swimmers, tucking their two front pairs of legs close to their body and stroking with powerful back legs.  When they submerge, they carry a film of air with them to breathe, stored under the hard, outer wing covers (elytra).  They can fly, too, though they mostly take to the air at night.

As both larvae and adults, Predaceous diving beetles are aquatic and carnivorous, dining on fellow aquatic invertebrates.  Larvae (called water tigers) grab their meals with curved mouthparts and inject digestive juices that soften the innards, making them easy to sip out (generic water tiger – https://bugguide.net/node/view/49848/bgimage).  They eat lots of mosquito larvae.  Adults grab their prey and tear pieces off.  Not for the faint of heart.   

Hydacticus aruspex (no common name) is one of five genus members in North America and is found across the continent.  It comes in both a striped and a non-striped form https://bugguide.net/node/view/296320/bgimage.  It overwinters as an adult, under the ice, and romance blossoms in spring.  For more information about Predaceous diving beetles, see https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/predaceous-diving-beetle-revisited/

These spectacular OBLIQUE-WINGED KATYDIDS (probably) were climbing around on Arrow Arum in a wetland that the BugLady frequents.  Katydids are famous singers whose ventriloquistic calls may be heard day and night (though older ears may strain to hear them – test your hearing here https://www.listeningtoinsects.com/oblong-winged-katydid).  They “sing” via “stridulation” – friction – in their case, by rubbing the rigid edge of one forewing against a comb-like “file” on the other (the soft, second set of wings is only for flying, and they do that well).  They hear with slit-like tympana on their front legs.  Most Katydids are vegetarians, but a few species are predaceous.

Oblong-winged Katydids (Amblycorypha oblongifolia) are “False katydids” (here’s a True katydid https://bugguide.net/node/view/2207342/bgimage) in the Round-headed katydid genus.  They are found in woods, shrubs, and edges throughout the eastern US, often in “damp-lands,” often on brambles, roses, and goldenrods.  The dark, mottled triangle on the top of the male’s thorax is called the “stridulatory field” – a rough area that is rubbed to produce sound.  Oblong-winged katydids have a large stridulatory field. 

Katydids, both in color and in texture, are remarkably camouflaged – except when they’re not.  Here’s an awesome color wheel of katydids https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/amblycorypha_oblongifolia.htm

For more information about the large katydids (including the origin of their name), see https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/katydid-rerun/.

The BugLady came across this cute little MOTH FLY (Clytocerus americanus) (probably) on a day that she couldn’t take an in-focus shot on a bet!  Fortunately, bugguide.net contributors did better https://bugguide.net/node/view/426325/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/695589/bgimage.  Despite their name, Moth flies are moths, not flies or weird hybrids.  They are tiny (maybe 1/8”) and hairy, and are weak fliers, and until she saw this one, the only Moth flies she had ever seen were indoors, in the bathroom (where they earn another of their names – “drain flies”).  Species that live outside are, like this one was, often found near wetlands. 

There are only one or two species in the genus Clytocerus in North America, and they have strongly-patterned wings and very hairy antennae.  Not much is known about their habits.  According to Wikipedia, adult Clytocerus americanus feed on “fungal mycelia and various organisms which inhabit wet to moist environments. Larvae are assumed to be detritivores.”

Find out more about moth flies here https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/moth-fly/

MASON WASP – This is what happens when the BugLady buys garden stakes!  After various small, solitary wasps populate the empty interiors with eggs, the BugLady can’t possibly stick them into the ground! 

As their name suggests, female Mason wasps use mud to construct chambers in preexisting holes to house both their eggs and the cache of small invertebrates that their their eventual larvae will eat. 

The Canadian Mason Wasp (Symmorphus canadensis) suspends an egg from the chamber roof or wall by a thread and then adds 20 or more moth or leaf mining beetle larvae before partitioning it off with a wall of mud and working on the next cell https://bugguide.net/node/view/509856/bgimage.  She leaves a “vestibule” at the end of the tunnel/plant stake between the final chamber and the door plug. 

Heather Holm, in her sensational Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity, and Role and Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants, discusses the hunting strategy of genus members: “Symmorphus wasps hunt leaf beetle larvae (Chrysomela); these beetles have glands in their abdominal segments and thorax that emit pungent defensive compounds.  These compounds are derived from the plants that the larvae consume. ….. In addition to using visual cues to find their prey, it is likely that Symmorphus wasps use olfactory means to find the beetle larvae.  Symmorphus males have been observed lunging at Chrysomela larvae, mistaking the larvae for adult females [female mason wasps] that, after capturing and handling prey, smell of the offensive compounds.

Here are two previous BOTWs about mason wasps, each a different genus than the Canadian Mason wasp: https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/bramble-mason-wasp/ and https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/four-toothed-mason-wasp/.    

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Sand-loving Bembidion beetle

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week Sand-loving Bembidion beetle

Greetings, BugFans,

The Ground beetle family (Carabidae) contains some large and spectacular species https://bugguide.net/node/view/662415/bgpage, https://bugguide.net/node/view/2138426/bgimage, https://bugguide.net/node/view/2216522/bgimage, (including the Tiger beetles https://bugguide.net/node/view/1124395/bgpage), but today’s beetle is neither large nor flashy. It’s pretty fast, though.

With 2,440 species in North America and around 34,000 species worldwide, Carabidae is one of the largest insect families. Most Carabids are active hunters, both as larvae and adults, and many species (but not the tiger beetles) are nocturnal. Other than that, Carabids come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and habits and habitats. Many are chemically protected, with special glands where they can concoct noxious substances.

Cool fact about Ground beetles: according to bugguide.net, “the front tibia has a prominent notch (antenna cleaner) on the inside near distal end.” 

The BugLady was moseying around on the beach one August day when she spied an impossibly small beetle zipping over the sand.  So (of course) she aimed her camera at it as it ran around her and between her feet.  Bent over, with the 100mm lens about 2 ½ feet above the sand, this was the only shot worth keeping. 

She figured out that it was in the genus Bembidion (though she guessed the species wrong).  Bembidion is the largest genus in the Carabidae, and it’s a complex one.  Evans, in Beetles of Eastern North America, says that “Bembidion is a large genus; species sometimes challenging to identify.”  There are about 1,300 described species that are divided among about 100 subgenera, with more in the pipeline.  About 250 species live in North America, eight of them non-native. 

As a group, they are small (a half-inch or less), slender and somewhat flattened, dark and often metallic, speedy denizens of habitats near the water, especially river banks (though there are some grassland and desert species, too).  Their range is described as (new science words) biantitropical or amphitropical – that is, they live at both southern and (mostly) northern latitudes, away from the tropics.  They tend to appear on the landscape in spring and summer, they prey on tiny invertebrates, and they overwinter as adults. 

The BugLady sent the picture off to BugFan PJ for his thoughts.  He thought he should send it along to a ground beetle specialist, who wrote, “Kate’s culprit is likely Bembidion (subspecies Bracteon) carinula Chaudoir. See https://bugguide.net/node/view/109039. This is an abundant species that runs fast on wet sandy shores of Lake Michigan during warm sunlight in midsummer. They often fly when approached.”  Thanks, Gentlemen – it takes a village.

Most of the few sources of information that she found didn’t list a common name, but the Canadian NWT Species Search website calls it, logically, the Sand-loving Bembidion Beetle.  Its range covers much of Canada and across the northern tier of the US into New England (with some records in Iowa, Kentucky, and New Jersey).  It’s seen on sparsely-vegetated shores, often on dry sand, and though it’s not uncommon, it may be hard to see because it’s only 3/8” in length and it moves along like the Roadrunner.  It’s active during the day, and the adults are good fliers. 

The checkerboard pattern on its elytra is more conspicuous in some individuals https://bugguide.net/node/view/842164/bgimage than in others https://bugguide.net/node/view/51503/bgimage

Other than the fact that it appears on a number of “The Ground Beetles of (Wherever)” surveys and checklists, and it’s a species of Special Concern on Connecticut, there’s not much out there about Sand-loving Bembidion beetles.  As always, several sites offered to tell the BugLady what words rhyme with Bembidion, and yes, you can order a Bembidion beetle Sun catcher and a belt buckle online.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Wildflower Watch – Swamp Milkweed

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week Wildflower Watch – Swamp Milkweed

Howdy, BugFans,

The BugLady is already fantasizing about warm, sunny days in a wetland, photographing Swamp milkweed (and dragonflies), because she loves its color, and she loves being in wetlands, and because it’s a very busy plant, indeed!

Also called rose or red milkweed (there are a couple of species of southern milkweeds that are also called red milkweed), white Indian hemp, water nerve-root, and water silkweed, Swamp milkweed prefers damp soils and full sun near the water’s edge.

Indians, and later, the European settlers, used it medicinally (a tea made from the roots was reputed to “drive the worms from a person in one hour’s time”).  It was used with caution – its sap is poisonous – and the cardiac glycosides that protect Monarchs also deter mammals from grazing on all but the very young plants.  The fibers in its stem were twisted into rope and twine and were used in textiles.

Its flowers are typical milkweed flowers – a corona of five parts (hoods) with curved petals below and curved, nectar-secreting horns above.  The flowers are tricky – sticky, golden, saddlebag-shaped pollinia are hidden behind what one author calls a trap door (a stigmatic slit).  Insects walk around on the flower head, and when one of their feet slips through the slit by chance, a pollinium sticks to it.  When the bug encounters a stigmatic slit on the next plant it visits, the pollen is inadvertently delivered.  A quick-and-dirty, pick-up and delivery is what the plant had in mind; but, like the story of the raccoon (or was it a monkey) that reaches into the jar for a candy bar and then can’t pull its fist out of the small opening, sometimes the insect’s foot gets stuck to pollinia inside the trap door.  Insects that can’t free themselves will die dangling from the flower, and insects that escape may be gummed up by the waxy structures.  Look carefully for pollinia in the pictures.

Milkweeds support complex communities of invertebrates – their nectar attracts ants, bugs, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps, plus predators looking for a meal.  Here are some of the insects that the BugLady sees on Swamp milkweed.

TWO-BANDED PETROPHILA MOTHS (Petrophila bifascialis) are delicate moths that lead a double life.  By day, they sit sedately on streamside vegetation.  By night, the female crawls down the side of a rock into the water – sometimes several feet down – to deposit her eggs on the stream bottom, breathing air that she brings with her, held against her ventral surface (“Petrophila” means “rock-lover”).  Her larvae eventually attach themselves to a rock and spin a net to keep themselves there, feeding on diatoms and algae that they harvest from the rock’s surface with their mandibles. 

MULBERRY WING SKIPPER – A small (one-inch-ish wingspan) butterfly of wetlands with an arrow or airplane-shaped marking on its rich, chestnut-brown underwings (the upper surface of its wings looks completely different https://bugguide.net/node/view/34033/bgimage.  Adults fly slowly through low vegetation, where females lay their eggs on the leaves of sedges. 

FLOWER LONGHORN BEETLE BRACHYLEPTURA CHAMPLAINI (no common name), on a Swamp milkweed leaf.  Other than a “present” checkoff in a variety of natural area insect surveys, there’s just about nothing online about this beetle, and not much more in Evans’ book, Beetles of Eastern North America.  It’s a long-horned beetle in the Flower longhorn subfamily Lepturinae, a group that feeds on pollen in the daytime.  This one has pollinia on its mouthparts.

AMBUSH BUG – The dangling bee in this picture did not fall victim to the sticky pollinia (though it has plenty of them on its legs).  A well-camouflaged ambush bug snagged it as it visited the flower. 

SOLDIER BEETLE – These guys drive the BugLady crazy.  They’re lightning beetle mimics, and they’re pretty good at it, and she always overthinks the ID.  She doesn’t know why they’re imitating the closely-related lightning beetles – alarmed lightning beetles discharge poisonous blood/hemolymph from their leg joints, but alarmed soldier beetles do, too. 

CRAB SPIDER –This Goldenrod crab spider tucked itself down between the milkweed flowers and ambushed an Odontomyia soldier fly https://bugguide.net/node/view/417289/bgimage.

LARGE MILKWEED BUG – What a beauty!  Large milkweed bugs are seed bugs – they feed by poking their beaklike mouthparts through the shell of a milkweed pod and sucking nutrients from the seeds.  They don’t harm the plant (just the seed crop), and they don’t harm monarch caterpillars, either.  Like other milkweed feeders, they sport aposematic (warning) colors to inform predators of their unpalatability.  Large milkweed bugs don’t like northern winters and are migratory – like monarchs, the shortening day lengths, the lowering angle of the sun, and increasingly tough milkweed leaves signal that it’s time to go, and they travel south to find fresher greens.  Their descendants head north in spring.

MONARCH CATERPILLAR – Common milkweed and Swamp milkweed are Monarch butterflies’ top picks for egg laying. 

GREAT-SPANGLED FRITILLARY – The other big, orange butterfly.  Adults enjoy milkweeds and a variety of other wildflowers, and their caterpillars feed on violets – if they’re lucky enough to connect with some.  Females lay eggs in fall, near, but not necessarily on, violets, and the caterpillars emerge soon afterward.  They drink water but they don’t eat; they aestivate through winter in the leaf litter and awake in spring to look for their emerging host plants.

GIANT SWALLOWTAIL – A southern butterfly that seems to be getting a foothold in Wisconsin.  The book says they are annual migrants that produce a generation here in summer and that their caterpillars can’t tolerate Wisconsin winters, but the BugLady has seen very fresh-looking Giant Swallowtails here in May that didn’t look like they had just been on a long flight.  Their caterpillars are called Orange Dogs in the South, because their host plants are in the Rue/Citrus family Rutaceae.  In this neck of the woods, females lay their eggs on Prickly ash, a small shrub that’s the northernmost member of that family. 

CINNAMON CLEARWING MOTH – A nectar-sipper but, since it doesn’t land, not a serious pollinator.

NORTHERN PAPER WASP – Butterflies love Swamp Milkweed, and so do wasps.  The Northern paper wasp is the social wasp that makes a smallish (usually fewer than 200 inhabitants) open-celled, down-facing, stemmed nest https://bugguide.net/node/view/1411890/bgimage.  “Northern” is a misnomer – they’re found from Canada through Texas and from the Atlantic well into the Great Plains.  Her super power is chewing on cellulose material, mixing it with saliva, and creating paper pulp.  She may be on the swamp milkweed to get pollen and nectar for herself or to collect small invertebrates to feed to the colony’s larvae.  Curious about Northern paper wasps?  See https://bugeric.blogspot.com/2010/09/wasp-wednesday-northern-paper-wasp.html.

Also seen were ants, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, Great black wasps, Great golden digger wasps, Red soldier beetles, Fiery and Broad-winged Skipper butterflies, and Thick-headed flies.  

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Bugs at the End of Summer

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week Bugs at the End of Summer

Howdy, BugFans,

The Autumnal Equinox is fast upon us, alas, and even though it was a very hot one, the BugLady would like to push that Restart button and go back to the beginning of August.  Failing that, here are some of the bugs that crossed her trail in the second half of summer.

BARK LOUSE – Bark lice (order (Psocidae) are often seen in herds, both as adults and nymphs https://bugguide.net/node/view/1716157/bgimage.  This species, Cerastipsocus venosus, is known collectively as Tree cattle.  Bugguide.net says that they feed on “accumulations of fungi, algae, lichen, dead bark and other materials that occur on tree trunks and large limbs.”  And on the BugLady’s porch rails.  So, they clean up after the BugLady outside, and the silverfish take care of the inside of her cottage. 

YELLOW-HORNED FLOWER LONG-HORNED BEETLE – The YHFLHB (Strangalia luteicornis) is in the Longhorned beetle family Cerambycidae and the subfamily Lepturinae, the flower longhorns.  Flower longhorns are often found on flowers by day, feeding on the protein-rich pollen, and many (but not all) species are wedge-shaped – sometimes dramatically so.  Their larvae feed on dead and dying woody material, and certain fungi that they ingest as part of their meal then aids the grub’s ability to digest cellulose (in some species of flower longhorns, Mom inoculates the eggshell as she lays it with a yeast that becomes part of the grub’s intestinal microflora). 

AMBUSH BUG – What would summer be without the extraordinarily-well-camouflaged (and voracious) ambush bugs – one of the BugLady’s favorites? 

LEAF-FOOTED BUG – Late summer is True bug season (remember – only one insect order, the Hemiptera, can officially be called Bugs).  This particular bug is the almost-grown nymph of a leaf-footed bug called Acanthocephala terminalis (no common name).  Newly-hatched nymphs, with their spiny butts and improbable antennae, are pretty cute https://bugguide.net/node/view/933082/bgimage

SPIDER WEB AND PREY – All wrapped up and nowhere to go.   

BALD-FACED HORNET – The BugLady corresponded this summer with a man who was stung twice in his mouth by a Bald-faced hornet (now called Bald-faced aerial yellowjacket).  These are the gals that build the closed, football-shaped, paper nests that hang in trees, and while they are valiant/dangerous in defense of their homes, they don’t defend the flower tops where they feed.  The BugLady’s correspondent was apparently walking along blamelessly when his open mouth encountered a flying hornet.  Stings on the face, and especially in the mouth, can be dangerous because of swelling, even if you’re not allergic. 

An entomologist named Schmidt went around deliberately getting stung by the ants, hornets, bees, and wasps of the world and writing descriptions of his discomfort that are sometimes reminiscent of a wine-tasting.  He rated the Bald-faced hornet at a 2 out of 4 on his pain scale – “rich, hearty, slightly crunchy.  Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door” https://reliantpest.com/north-american-schmidt-sting-index/.  Not surprisingly, lots of exterminator companies have posted the scale because they want to sell us something.   

COMMON WOOD NYMPH – A medium/large Satyr butterfly of sunny fields, Common Wood Nymphs are not often seen nectaring on flowers, preferring fungi and rotting fruit.  They lay their eggs on grasses in late summer, but when the caterpillars hatch, they go into hibernation immediately, without feeding, to continue their development the following spring. 

CANDY-STRIPED LEAFHOPPER – what glorious things sometimes come in ¼” packages!  And, they have superpowers!  Leafhoppers suck plant juices.  Most plant sap has a sugar concentration of only a few percent, so leafhoppers have to consume a lot of it to get enough calories, and they excrete the excess (honeydew) “under pressure” with a tiny, but sometimes-audible, “pop.”  Because of this, they’re called “sharpshooters.”  And – they vocalize, but too softly for us to hear.

BROWN WASP MANTIDFLY – Yes, those poised, mantis-like front legs are used to grab smaller insects (mantidflies also sip nectar); and yes, this mantidfly does look like a paper wasp at first glance (but – no stinger).  Scroll down to see how this very flexible species has evolved to imitate different species of wasps in different parts of the country (the mantidfly is on the left) https://bugguide.net/node/view/4825

Their stalked eggs are attached to leaves https://bugguide.net/node/view/216544/bgimage, and when the eggs hatch, each larva waits for a passing spider, hitches a ride (feeding on the spider like a tick), and eventually infiltrates the spider’s egg sac, where it spends the rest of its larval life eating spider eggs.

WHITE-FACED MEADOWHAWK – You rarely see this species in tandem flights out over the water or ovipositing into shallow water.  They often “speculate” – bobbing up and down in damp areas by a pond’s edge, with the female lobbing her eggs onto the ground.  The plan is that spring rains will wash the eggs into the water. 

RED-SPOTTED PURPLE – What a classy butterfly!  Three Fun Facts about Red-spotted Purples: 1) the red is on the underside of the wings https://bugguide.net/node/view/557370; 2) though they are “tailless,” they are mimicking Pipe-vine Swallowtails, which are poisonous https://bugguide.net/node/view/2264557/bgimage; and 3) partly-grown caterpillars spend the winter inside a leaf that they’ve rolled into a tube and fastened to a twig, and they emerge and resume eating the following year (scroll down for a picture of a hibernaculum and for a bonus lesson about “frass spars” https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/red-spotted_purple.htm).  Within their leafy tube, they drop about 1/3 of the water weight in their body in order to avoid cell damage from freezing.

CRAB SPIDER – Nothing to see here, folks, just move along.

GREEN STINK BUG – Another common sight in late summer, along with their flashy, almost-grown nymphs https://bugguide.net/node/view/885566.  Some stink bugs are carnivores, and some are herbivores, and some of the herbivores are considered crop pests.  They aren’t chewers, they suck plant juices with mouths like drinking straws, which can deform fruits and seeds, damage twigs, and wither leaves.  Green Stink bugs (Pentatoma hilaris) (hilaris means “lively or cheerful”) feed on a large variety of plants (they’re “polyphagous”).  Newly-hatched green stinkbugs aren’t green https://bugguide.net/node/view/127137/bgimage.

TIGER SWALLOWTAIL CATERPILLAR – No – those aren’t eyes.  They’re pigment spots that are designed to fool you into thinking it’s a snake.  Young Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars start out as bird poop mimics https://bugguide.net/node/view/1883543/bgimage, but midway through their development, they go into snake mode, completing the effect by everting, when they feel threatened, a two-pronged, soft, orange, odorous projection (the osmeterium) that looks like a snake’s forked tongue https://bugguide.net/node/view/2214191/bgimage.  Tiger Swallowtails have two generations per year.  Caterpillars of the butterflies we see in June don’t spend long in the chrysalis, emerging in mid-August and getting to work on the next generation.  This caterpillar will overwinter as a chrysalis.  Don’t tell the other insects, but Tiger Swallowtails are the BugLady’s favorites.

As she visited her usual haunts this summer, the BugLady was dismayed at the lack of insects.  Sure, the goldenrods are full of flies, bees and wasps of various stripes, and the grasshoppers and tree crickets are singing their September songs.  But she saw six Tiger Swallowtails this summer.  Total.  And maybe a dozen meadowhawks.  During one mid-summer Dragonfly count years ago, the BugLady simply stopped counting meadowhawks when she got to 250 because it was distracting her from the other species.  Common Wood Nymphs used to emerge in early July by the score to filter through the grasses.  Even crab spiders and ambush bugs seemed scarce this year. 

What good are insects?  Sometimes it’s hard to drum up sympathy for a group that many people routinely swat, stomp, spray, or zap.  But insects provide food for birds and for other insects; they’re pollinators, and they provide other ecosystem services including pest control and garbage pick-up. 

(And, of course, they’re awesome.)

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Euderces picipes Beetle

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week Euderces picipes Beetle

Greetings, BugFans,

When the BugLady saw these two tiny (5mm/¼”), black insects on a flower, her first thought was “ants,” followed immediately by a mental head slap.  They were piggyback – worker ants don’t do that, and royal ants have wings, and males are way smaller than females.  A (much) closer look revealed two long-horned beetles, Family Cerambycidae.

The Cerambycids (aka the longicorns, borers, girdlers, sawyers, or timber beetles) are a large group of beetles (1,000 species in North America; 30,000 worldwide).  Some are spectacular https://bugguide.net/node/view/1767144/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/2247879/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/226098/bgimage,; some are humble – https://bugguide.net/node/view/119390/bgpagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1285181/bgpage,; some are just odd – https://bugguide.net/node/view/1472921/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/2198732/bgimagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1569423/bgimage; and at least one species graces a Wanted Poster – the large, non-native Asian Longhorned beetle that’s been threatening our hardwoods since 1996 https://bugguide.net/node/view/631192/bgimage.  A number of native species are also persona non grata, especially with the lumber industry. 

Many (but not all) Cerambycids have long antennae (“horns”) – some spectacularly long https://bugguide.net/node/view/2119609/bgimage.  

Cerambycid larvae are often called round headed borers, and it’s the “borer” part that gets them in trouble.  They feed on the tissue within the stems, trunks, and roots of plants (woody and herbaceous).  Depending on the species, they may (or may not) wait for a tree to be compromised and bore into dead or dying wood – they are part of the recycling process.  They may be found in untreated lumber which, if it’s part of your house, you may not be ready to recycle yet.  Female Cerambycids locate the correct host species for their offspring by analyzing the chemical signatures of plants, and some damage trees by girdling twigs while they’re ovipositing.  Adults variously eat sap, nectar, pollen, fruit, fungi, foliage, and bark, or nothing at all.

The star of today’s show represents a tiny drop in the great Cerambycid bucket – there are only four species in the genus Euderces in North America (60 total), and bugguide.net calls them “among the smallest of our longhorns.” 

EUDERCES PICIPES (no common name) is found in the first half of summer, east of the Great Plains.  Its larvae feed under the bark of hickory, black walnut, oak, elm, dogwood, and locust branches.  According to the excellent Illinois Wildflowers website, adults are found on flowers in the aster, sumac (cashew), carrot, holly, honeysuckle, mint, rose, greenbriar, and buckthorn families, and many of the bugguide.net pictures show them on white flowers.

Along with the black morph beetles that the BugLady saw, Euderces picipes also comes in red https://bugguide.net/node/view/2047840/bgimage.  The black morph is more common in the northern part of its range, and the red is more common in the south.  Both colors are found in transition zones, and mixed pairs can be seen piggyback.  Apparently, they know who they are. 

Many of the species in the genus Euderces and in their tribe, Tillomorphini, are ant mimics, but ant mimicry (myrmecophily, pronounced myr’ me coph’ i ly) is not limited to beetles – spiders do it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_mimicry#/media/File:Ant_and_jumping_spider_Gorongosa_National_Park,_Mozambique.jpg and crickets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_mimicry#/media/File:Macroxiphus_sp_cricket.jpg, and so do other arthropods.  There are even ants that mimic other ants, though scientists aren’t sure why.

There are several reasons why it might be beneficial to look like an ant.  One reason is to eat, and another is to avoid being eaten.  Besides its morphology (size, shape, structure), an insect or spider that wants to insert itself among the ants in order to eat them (aggressive mimicry) must also act and smell like an ant (or, at least, not like a spider).  An ant mimic that wants to avoid being eaten (protective mimicry) is taking advantage of ants’ reputation for protecting themselves by biting, stinging, formic acid, or all of the above, as well as for having an anthill full of sister ants that are always on call in an emergency (all of which the BugLady learned at an early age).  Not many organisms mess with ants.  

Especially not the BugLady.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Midsummer Memories by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week Midsummer Memories

Howdy, BugFans,

Last year the BugLady had so many midsummer stories to tell that she wrote one episode about dragonflies, and a second about “other” (because as seasoned BugFans know (well) her camera gravitates to dragons and damsels).  She’s got a heap of pictures to share again this year, but she’ll mix and match the groups in a two-part summer feature.

ROSE CHAFER BEETLE – The BugLady saw a single Rose Chafer last year and wrote about it https://uwm.edu/field-station/rose-chafer-beetle/.  This year, she found bunches of them – orgies of them (she’s not sure what the collective noun for Rose Chafers is, but she’s pretty sure it’s “orgy”).  And she was enthralled by the leggy designs they made on the undersides of milkweed leaves.  

COPPER BUTTERFLY – A highlight of the BugLady’s recent explorations of Kohler-Andrae State Park was finding two species of Copper butterflies – American Copper and Bronze Copper (she rarely finds Coppers).  The Coppers are in the Gossamer-wing butterfly family Lycaenidae, along with the Harvesters, Hairstreaks, Elfins, and Blues.  Their caterpillars feed on plants in the rose and buckwheat families (dock, sorrel, and knotweed).

VIOLET/VARIABLE DANCER – The BugLady was talking to a friend recently about the colors that dragonflies and damselflies come in.  Black, black and yellow, green, blue – even red.  But purple?

FLY ON PITCHER PLANT – This is just the way it’s supposed to work.  Insects with a “sweet tooth” get lured to the lip of the pitcher plant and partake of the (slightly narcotic) nectar there.  Judgment impaired, they mosey around a little, maybe venturing onto the zone of down-pointing teeth below the lip, and then onto the slick, waxy zone below that.  It’s all downhill from there.

GOLDENROD CRAB SPIDER on yarrow (not all Goldenrod crab spiders have red racing stripes).  Incoming insects have trouble seeing her, too.  Out of all the species of crab spiders in the world (about 3,000), only a very few have the ability to change colors, and that ability is limited to the female of the species.  Her color palette includes white, yellow, and pale green.  She sees the background color with her eyes, and because a wardrobe change takes her between three days and three weeks she tends to stay on her chosen flower.  Her base color is white, and switching involves either creating yellow pigment or reabsorbing and then sequestering or excreting it.  

Why?  Good question.  Scientists have tested spiders on matching and non-matching flowers (which they often sit on), and they saw no boost in hunting success when the spiders matched their background (she likes prey that’s bigger than she is, like bumblebees, because she has eggs to make.  She loses weight on a diet of small flies).  When spiders themselves are the prey, they are not picked off more often on non-matching flowers.  Maybe the color change gives her some sort of advantage when she forms her egg case, or maybe it’s a vestigial solution to a long-ago problem.

ORANGE-LEGGED DRONE FLY – This Syrphid/Flower/Hover fly is so serious about its bumble bee disguise that it makes a loud buzz when it’s flying

SEDGE SPRITE TUSSLE – the BugLady was in a bog not long ago when she saw two damselflies tussling on some leaves.  At first, she thought there was some predation going on, but that didn’t make sense because they were both Sedge Sprites.  He had grabbed her and was wrestling with her, and she was having none of it.  He suddenly flipped her around and clasped the back of her head with the tip of his abdomen (SOP for mating dragonflies and damselflies).  Rather than reaching forward and taking his sperm packet, she ultimately gave a couple of good shakes and dislodged him.  One small drama.

PHANTOM CRANE FLY – Flies come in all sizes and shapes, but this magical creature in white spats is the BugLady’s favorite.  It lives in dappled, brushy wetland edges where it flickers through the vegetation like a tiny wraith.

FORKTAIL AND POWDERED DANCER – Eastern Forktails are voracious hunters that go after other damselflies, even those close to their size.  The mature female forktail (in blue) found a teneral (young) Powdered Dancer (in tan) that was probably not a strong flyer yet.

Go outside – look at bugs,

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Closed for June IV by Kate Redmond

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June IV Fireflies

Howdy, BugFans,

The BugLady is getting ready for the annual firefly show (for BugFan Tom in the Deep South, the show’s almost over).  She has been seeing day-flying fireflies in the air in the wetlands she visits – for more about day-flying fireflies and about firefly natural history, see https://uwm.edu/field-station/lightning-beetle-again/ (after 5 years, not all of the links work).

Most important question first – are they fireflies or lightning bugs?  This is, of course, a question of great scholarly debate, and it was one of the questions on the wonderful, interactive Harvard American dialect survey of a decade ago.  Turns out that the “firefly” of the West, Western Upper Great Lakes, and New England is the “lightning bug” of the South and much of the Midwest https://www.rochesterfirst.com/weather/weather-blog/lets-settle-this-are-they-fireflies-or-lightning-bugs/.

Purists, of course, know that these are neither bugs nor flies, and that the term “lightning beetle” is more appropriate.  They’re in the family Lampyridae. 

Here are two articles about lightning beetles:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/illuminating-science-behind-fireflies-180982112/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=48316292&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2461641417&spReportId=MjQ2MTY0MTQxNwS2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tens-of-thousands-of-synchronous-fireflies-will-soon-flash-in-unison-180982045/

Identifying fireflies isn’t quite as much fun as watching them.  Not everything with a colorful, shield-shaped thorax is a lightning beetle – there are some species in the closely-related Soldier beetle family (Cantharidae) that do a pretty impressive job of mimicking fireflies https://bugguide.net/node/view/478194/bgpagehttps://bugguide.net/node/view/285149https://bugguide.net/node/view/1068384/bgpage, and every time the BugLady looks through her firefly pictures, she finds a ringer.  She recommends Fireflies, Glow-worms and Lightning Bugs by Lynn Frierson Faust.  The BugLady tried to ID these to genus – fingers crossed.

Go outside.  Look for fireflies (and if you catch them, release them in a timely fashion).

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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