Bug o’the Week – Stirrings of Summer

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Stirrings of Summer

Greetings, BugFans

Here are some of the bugs that the BugLady found in June, which was, overall, a hot and wet month (7.97” of rain at the BugLady’s cottage).

LIZARD BEETLE – the BugLady doesn’t know why these striking beetles are called Lizard beetles, unless it’s a nod to their long, slender shapes.  She usually sees them in the prairie on Indian Plantain plants.  The adults eat various parts of the plant, including pollen, while their larvae feed within the plant stems (the Clover stem borer is persona non grata in commercial clover fields). 

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, many species of Lizard beetles “make squeaking sounds using well-developed stridulatory organs on top of the head.

Two (counterintuitively-named) ORANGE BLUETS, ensuring the next generation.  He “contact guards” her as she oviposits in submerged vegetation, lest a rival male come along and swipe her.  When the eggs hatch, the naiads can swim right out into the water.

BALTIMORE CHECKERSPOT – the BugLady has seen more of these spectacular butterflies than usual this year.  The caterpillars https://bugguide.net/node/view/206383 feed in fall on a late-blooming wildflower called Turtlehead (and sometimes broad-leaved plantain); turtlehead leaves (and plantain, to a lesser extent) contain growth-enhancing chemicals called iridoid glycosides that also discourage birds.  The caterpillars tuck in for the winter and emerge the next year into a landscape empty of Turtlehead. 

In spring, Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars 2.0 feed on leaves of a variety of flowers and shrubs – the BugLady has seen them on goldenrod and on wood betony – and especially on leaves of the (doomed) white ash. 

CRAYFISH – the BugLady came across this crayfish and its companion when all three of us were negotiating a muddy trail (so many muddy trails this year!).  It waved its pincers at her to make sure she was terrified.

DOODLEBUGS (aka antlions) got going early this year – the BugLady found more than 100 excavations (pits) at the southeast corner of her house at the end of April, and more along the path leading to the beach.  They’ve had a rough go of it – it doesn’t take much rain to ruin a pit, and it takes a day or so to repair one.  

Doodlebug watchers sometimes catch a glimpse of pincers at the bottom of a pit, or of a doodlebug tossing sand around.  The BugLady witnessed an ant going to its final reward, and found a pit with a small beetle in it, one with a box elder bug, and one with a beetle and a small jumping spider.  She will look for the adults, which look kind of like damselflies, in August.

DONACIA – a golden beetle https://bugguide.net/node/view/2309637/bgimage on a golden flower.

COMMON SPRING MOTH – the BugLady loves finding bugs she’s never seen before, especially when she doesn’t have to leave home to do it!!  (She does get a little bewildered, though, when the “new” insect is named the “Common something” and she’s never seen it before).  The occurrence of this one should be no surprise – its caterpillars feed on Black locust leaves. 

PETROPHILA MOTHS are dainty moths that are tied to water.  The BugLady and BugFan Joan spotted mobs of moths on milkweed (yes, there’s a milkweed under there) on the bank of the Milwaukee River.  “Petrophila” means “rock lover” – for that story, see this BOTW about a (probably) different species https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/two-banded-petrophila/.  

GREEN LACEWING EGGS – the BugLady wrote about Green lacewings and their eggs a few months ago, and she recently found this amazing bunch of tiny, glistening eggs.  She has always associated Green lacewings with the end of summer.  Guess not.

EIGHT-SPOTTED FORESTER MOTHS are small, spiffy, day-flying moths that are often mistaken for butterflies.  The one that the BugLady found recently was not as gaudy as most – most have brilliant orange leg scales https://bugguide.net/node/view/2300226/bgimage.  There’s a saying among Lepidopterists – the plainer the caterpillar, the more spectacular the adult.  Forester moths seem to be an exception https://bugguide.net/node/view/156406

POWDERED DANCERS oviposit at this time of year in the slightly-submerged stems of aquatic vegetation, especially Potamogeton https://bugguide.net/node/view/737371/bgimage.  They’ve been pictured here before.  This year, the river is running high and fast – there are no mats of Potamogeton leaves with Ebony Jewelwings, American Rubyspots, Stream Bluets, and Powdered Dancers flickering above them.  Do they have a Plan B?

These two BRILLIANT JUMPING SPIDERS (aka Red & Black jumping spiders), a male and a female, were perched a respectful distance from each other on the prairie.  Jumping spiders, as their name suggests, jump, and depending on species, can cover from 10 to 50 times their body length.  They don’t spin trap webs, but they do spin a drag line while jumping to guard against mishaps.  They hunt by day.

The great MObugs website (Missouri’s Majority) says that “By late July or August mating is on their mind. Males begin to compete with other males for the right to mate with nearby females. Larger males typically win these competitions which include loud vibrations and some unique footwork. Males choose the larger females to mate with as they produce the most eggs.”  She will place her egg sac in a silken nest in a leaf shelter and guard it, dying shortly after the spiderlings emerge from the sac.

ZELUS LURIDUS (aka the Pale green assassin bug) is the BugLady’s favorite Assassin bug.  They mostly wait patiently for their prey to wander by, but when it does, they reveal their super power.  Glands on their legs produce a sticky resin that they smear over the hairs on their legs.  When they grab their prey, it stays grabbed. 

They make distinctive egg masses https://bugguide.net/node/view/960067/bgimage (nice series of shots) – the BugLady has found them on the undersides of leaves, and the nymphs are pretty cool, too https://bugguide.net/node/view/1632827/bgimage

Although “lurid” now means shocking, vivid, or overly bright, it originally meant ghastly, horrifying, pale, sallow, or sickly yellow – its meaning began to change in the 1700’s.  

There – all caught up! 

Go outside – look at bugs!

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

Bug o’the Week – Slices of Spring

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Slices of Spring

Howdy, BugFans,

The BugLady and her camera have been out scouring the uplands and wetlands for insects that will sit still long enough to have their portrait made.  Many of today’s bugs have starred in their own BOTWs over the years, and you can find them by Googling “UWM Field Station followed by the name of the insect.  Her gut continues to tell her that there simply aren’t as many insects to point her camera at as there were a decade ago.

What did she find in April and May?

WOODLAND LUCY (Lucidota atra), aka the Black firefly (atra means black).  If a lightning bug doesn’t light, is it still a Lightning bug?  Yup.  Most lightning bugs flash their species-specific light signals at females by night, but some, like the Woodland Lucy, are day flyers (the BugLady starts seeing them in swamps in May, but she usually doesn’t see a light show by their nocturnal relatives until the very end of June).  It would be a waste of energy to try to produce a light that competes with the sun, so diurnal lightning bugs communicate via pheromones (perfumes).  But, all fireflies make light at some point in their lives, and always as a larva (and even the adult Woodland Lucy makes a weak light for a brief time after emerging as an adult).   

Who says “lightning bug” and who says “firefly?”  Lightning bug is heard most often in the South and Midwest, and firefly belongs to New England and the West (and Southeastern Wisconsin is close to the border of the two).  Someone did a study and hypothesized that people who live in wildfire country prefer firefly, and people who live in thunderstorm country say lightning beetle.  The BugLady likes the alternate theory – that you call them whatever your Grandmother called them.

DISONYCHA BEETLE – isn’t this a neat beetle!  The BugLady photographed another member of the genus years ago when she was photographing visitors to her pussy willow shrub.  It’s in the (huge) leaf beetle family Chrysomelidae, many of whose members are pretty specific about the host plants for their larvae.  This one is (probably) a member of the confusing Smartweed Disonycha bunch.  

GROUSE LOCUSTS are in the family Tetrigidae (the pygmy grasshoppers), and at a half-inch and less when full grown, pygmy they are!  The BugLady usually sees them in wetlands, and some are actually known to swim.  They feed on tiny diatoms and algae and aquatic vegetation at the water’s edge.

A CENTIPEDE works the boardwalk at Spruce Lake Bog in April.

GROUND BEETLE LARVA – Ground beetles (family Carabidae) are a bunch of mainly nocturnal, sometimes-sizeable, mostly predaceous beetles.  Some of the big ones have no-nonsense names like Fiery Searcher and Caterpillar Hunter, and although they are called Ground beetles, they may climb trees to find their prey.  They’re long-lived, spending a year or two as larvae and then two or three more as adults.  No – the BugLady was not inclined to pick this one up.   

The WHITE-STRIPED BLACK MOTH (Trichodezia albovittata) is a small (1” wingspan) day-flying moth that’s often mistaken for a butterfly.  It’s found in wetlands because its caterpillar’s food is Impatiens/Jewelweed/Touch-me-not.  Like other members of the moth family Geometridae, it has tympanal organs (ears) at the base of its abdomen so that it can hear the echolocation calls of bats.  Since it’s diurnal, its ears are superfluous, but it can hear ultrasound (which suggests to evolutionary biologists that its day-flying habit is a recent one). 

CHALK-FRONTED CORPORALS are one of our earliest dragonflies – the BugLady recalls seeing recently-emerged corporals by the hundreds over a dirt road on warm, spring days.

DADDY LONGLEGS (aka Harvestmen) are not true spiders, though they do have eight legs.  The best description that the BugLady has read is that lacking a sharp division between their two body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), they look like Rice Krispies with legs.  This one is well-camouflaged on the fertile stalk of a cinnamon fern.

The BugLady may have to have this engraved on her gravestone (oh wait, she’s being scattered) – DADDY LONGLEGS DO NOT BITE PEOPLE!  Also, counter to both urban and rural legend, they are NOT the most venomous animal on earth!!!  The BugLady does not care what your cousin told you, or the person who claims to be allergic to their bite.  They have tiny jaws, and unlike the true spiders, they do not pierce their prey and then pump in chemicals from venom glands (no venom glands) (and they have no stinging apparatus).  They just sit there and chew off tiny (tiny) pieces.  Got it?

The BEAUTIFUL BEE FLY (Bombylius pulchellus) truly is (pulchellos means “little beauty”)!  This small fly (maybe ¼”) was photographed in a wetland in mid-May.  Bee fly larvae are parasitoids of a variety of insect eggs and larvae – this one targets the sweat bees, which are among our earliest pollinators (not to worry – the system is in balance).

CRANE FLY – there are a number of families of crane flies, plus some near-relatives, and they are often collectively called daddy longlegs (though they’re not spiders) and mosquito hawks and skeeter-eaters (though they don’t catch or eat mosquitoes).  What they do, is look like giant mosquitoes when they land on the other side of your window screen at night https://bugguide.net/node/view/2360312/bgimage, but they’re completely harmless.  The “crane” in crane fly reflects their long, long legs – they’re somewhat awkward flyers and even more awkward landers.  Like the Daddy longlegs, they’re reputedly extremely venomous (and now it’s time to introduce the third member of our “daddy longlegs trio,” the cellar spider.  Crane flies are thought to be venomous because they look like cellar spiders (https://bugguide.net/node/view/2170770/bgimage), but, alas, cellar spiders only have very weak venom). 

How do these things get started, anyway?

SOLDIER FLY – it’s always a little startling to come across a lime-green fly! 

This VIRGINIA CTENUCHA MOTH CATERPILLAR was photographed in April, but the BugLady has found them walking around on mild winter days.  The cute caterpillar will morph into a stunning moth https://bugguide.net/node/view/1036503/bgimage that looks butterfly-ish until it lands on a leaf and immediately crawls underneath.  Despite its name, it’s a moth with more northerly affiliations. 

The (great) Minnesota Seasons website lists three defense strategies:

  • Aposematism: The metallic blue color of the thorax and abdomen mimics wasps which may be noxious to predators.
  • Sound production: A specialized (tymbal), corrugated region on the third section of the thorax (metathorax) produces ultrasonic sounds which interfere with (“jam”) the sonar of moth-eating bats.
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration: Caterpillars acquire and retain naturally produced toxic chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) from the plants they eat.

RED-SPOTTED PURPLE CATERPILLARS are hard to distinguish from those of the very-closely-related Viceroy and White Admiral caterpillars, and their food plants overlap, too.  The caterpillars overwinter in a leaf that’s still attached to the tree, rolled up and fastened with silk. 

Red-spotted Purple?  The purple part https://bugguide.net/node/view/1791309/bgimage, and the red-spotted part https://bugguide.net/node/view/1881731/bgimage

HOBOMOK SKIPPERS (once called the Northern Golden Skipper) are an early butterfly, often decorating the wild geraniums that bloom by the bushel in May.  One source says that they are strong flyers that take off quickly when startled.  Amen!  They are a butterfly of woodland, wetland and grassland edges, where males perch in the sun and fly out to chase intruders.

“Hobomok” is a nod to an early Wampanoag chief.    

CRAB SPIDER on White trillium – as we all know, the BugLady has a thing for crab spiders because of their ability to hide in plain sight.  This one was photographed in early May. 

Go outside – Look for Bugs!

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

Bug o’the Week – Closed for June IV – A Potpourri of Invertebrates

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June IV A Potpourri of Invertebrates

Howdy, BugFans,

June is waning, and pretty soon the BugLady will have to stop eating chocolates and watching soaps and get up off the couch and start writing.  Actually, with a way warmer and wetter June than normal (more than 7” of rain at the BugLady’s house for the month), the trail hasn’t been as much fun as usual, and the bugs are slow to reappear (not surprisingly, she has gotten some nice dragonfly shots).

So – your reading list for the week includes bumble bees, butterflies, leeches, and spiders.

Jorō Spiders https://bugguide.net/node/view/1463347/bgimage are sandwich plate-sized immigrants from East Asia that are making themselves at home in parts of the eastern part of the country.  Although they are startling (to say the least), they are reportedly benign.  It will be a while before they get here to God’s Country, but here’s one of our larger spiders, a slightly-related Black and Yellow Argiope/Garden spider https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/joro-spiders-spreading-in-the-southeast-can-survive-surprisingly-well-in-cities-180983845/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49487887&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2642873766&spReportId=MjY0Mjg3Mzc2NgS2

Bumble bees play soccer https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/bees-can-learn-play-soccer-score-one-insect-intelligence-180962292/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=48539902&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2503571888&spReportId=MjUwMzU3MTg4OAS2.

And they are specialized pollinators https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/these-cute-fuzzy-bumblebees-precision-engineered-pollinators-180984491/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49906517&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2722758537&spReportId=MjcyMjc1ODUzNwS2.

And leeches leap https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/watch-blood-sucking-leeches-leap-from-leaves-and-soar-through-the-air-180984585/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49887473&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2722372704&spReportId=MjcyMjM3MjcwNAS2.

And Painted Lady butterflies are big-time travelers, which was determined by an analysis of their pollen https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/these-stunning-butterflies-flew-2600-miles-across-the-atlantic-ocean-without-stopping-180984602/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49906517&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2722758537&spReportId=MjcyMjc1ODUzNwS2.

Stay cool,

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

Bug o’the Week – Closed for June III – More Pollinators

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June III More Pollinators

Howdy, BugFans,

A pollinator is an animal (not all pollinators are insects) that visits flowers and carries their pollen to other flowers.  Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and wasps are all practitioners to some degree.  Hummingbirds pollinate a few flowers (like wild columbine), and in the Southwest, a few bats do, too.

We’re well into National Pollinator Week now, and the news isn’t wonderful, so the BugLady is off-setting it with pictures of some really spiffy pollinators.

Shrinking pollinator populations – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/shrinking-pollinator-populations-could-be-killing-427000-people-per-year-180981353/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20221222-daily-responsive&spMailingID=47793660&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2362605046&spReportId=MjM2MjYwNTA0NgS2

And more shrinking pollinator populations – https://e360.yale.edu/features/insect_numbers_declining_why_it_matters

How can we help insects, including pollinators?  Plant an array of native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that will bloom from spring through fall, reduce or eliminate pesticides, provide brush piles and other shelter, don’t be a tidy gardener, and set out a bird bath (birds will appreciate this, too).  In Wisconsin, plug into our bumble bee https://wiatri.net/inventory/BBB/ and monarch caterpillar monitoring programs https://wiatri.net/inventory/BBB/.

Meanwhile – it’s National Pollinator Week – celebrate appropriately.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

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

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June II 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.

What does it take to be a successful pollinator?  The ability to deliver pollen to multiple flowers in a short time span and the ability to transport pollen, either by general hairiness or by special pollen carrying structures.  Ants, with their smooth exteriors, impeccable grooming, and pedestrian habits, are all over flowers, but they are inefficient pollinators.


Flies are all over flowers, too – are they on the list of important pollinators?  Check this: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-much-do-flies-help-pollination-180977177/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20210308-daily-responsive&spMailingID=44581828&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=1960663514&spReportId=MTk2MDY2MzUxNAS2

How do pollinators find flowers?  Flowers have developed a variety of lures to attract insects, like color, UV reflections, patterns on petals that act as nectar guides, electrostatic charges, and flower size and shape.  Specialized flowers “train” their specialized visitors, with which they have evolved over millennia.  Scent is important, too, especially for nocturnal visitors.  What happens if an insect can’t smell its usual blossoms?  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/air-pollution-makes-flowers-smell-less-appealing-to-pollinators-study-suggests-180983766/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49430515&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2641244472&spReportId=MjY0MTI0NDQ3MgS2

A lot has been written in the past decade about the crash of honey bee colonies.  Honey bees are, after all, responsible for pollinating about one-third of the foods we eat, accounting for about $15 billion in crop values annually (and they make honey and beeswax, too).  But, honeybees are an alien bee that was imported to pollinate alien crops, and we have many species of native bees.  Do honey bees disrupt native relationships – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41271-5?fbclid=IwAR3gFJuCvy1t3GEPCRGDW1nDzOGLjB-G0vLFiYHJtfU7TgVLTUnShMa5NJ0

Go outside – look at pollinators.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

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:

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.


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:

Bug o’the Week – Wetlands Month III – Ostracods

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

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.

Once upon a time, there were ostracods.  How do we know that?  Because these tiny, aquatic critters, critters that you would never expect to contribute significantly to the fossil record, have, in fact, managed to produce the most numerous fossils of all arthropods.  Of all arthropods!  That’s insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans.  Since the Ordovician period, 485 to 443 million years ago.  They’ve even been found in amber (fossilized tree sap), where they may have landed during a flood.  So pervasive are they that a system has been developed for evaluating ancient climates (paleotemperatures) called the mutual ostracod temperature range (MOTR), based on a measurement of the building blocks in the ostracod’s shell.  And, since the shapes of ostracod shells are indicators of their ecological milieu and of their feeding habits, they are used as paleoenvironmental indicators.  And, fossilized ostracods are used to date marine sediments. 

In the etymology department, Wikipedia tells us that the Greek root “ostracon” means “shell” or “tile,” and that “the word ‘ostracize’ comes from the same root, due to the practice of voting with shells or potsherds.”

Ostracods’ most recent family tree seems to read: Phylum Arthropoda (“jointed appendages”) (yes – they have appendages), subphylum Crustacea, and class Ostracoda.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium website explains that because they look like a shrimp inside a seed pod, they are commonly called seed shrimp (and an older European nickname is mussel shrimp), but the BugLady thinks they look like swimming pistachios (OK – like what pistachios would look like if they swam).  Fellow Crustaceans include the familiar pill bugs, crabs, crayfish, shrimp, and lobsters, as well as barnacles, fairy shrimp, and minute aquatic forms like daphnia, and copepods. 

Ostracods are found worldwide, and there are lots of ostracod species, both marine and non-marine, with many more waiting to be discovered.  The BugLady found estimates of 8,000 to 13,000 total living species, 2,000 of which are non-marine (non-salt water), with 420 of those non-marine species being found in North America.  As many as 50,000 additional species have been identified from fossils.  About half of the non-marine species are in the family Cyprididae, and the BugLady suspects that the ostracods she photographed belong in that family because the Cyprididae are noted for their ability to swim and to tolerate stagnant, oxygen-poor waters, and for having drought-resistant eggs, larvae and adults – important adaptations for an ephemeral pond dweller.  There is a World Ostracod Database.  

If you can think of an aquatic habitat – running water, still, permanent, ephemeral, underground, surface, salt, fresh, hot sulfur, brackish, shallow, or ocean abyss – there are ostracods living in it.  They also occupy marginally wet habitats like mud and sand, algal mats, clumps of wet moss, and damp tropical soils.  One species hangs onto the underside of the surface film in open water.  Freshwater species probably evolved from ostracods that lived in brackish waters that flooded frequently, so that they gradually adjusted to lower saline levels.  One source speculated that the biggest jump in new species of ostracods may come when groundwater is analyzed for their presence (the BugLady hasn’t seen any in her tap/well water, but maybe that’s why faucets have those little screen in them)!  

Many species are generalists, not limited to a single habitat, and while most freshwater species are “benthic” (creeping about on the substrate/debris at the bottom of the body of water), some are active swimmers, others live on aquatic plants, and a few species are planktonic – moving passively with the water currents.  In general, ostracods prefer the shallow water at the wetland’s edge, up to a depth of about three feet, and they are more active in light than in shadows.  They can tolerate a wide range of water chemistries and temperatures, but they aren’t found in highly polluted waters. 

In her Field Book of Ponds and Streams, Ann Haven Morgan calls ostracods “another army of minute crustaceans averaging only a millimeter in length, and impossible to tell apart with a simple lens.”  What they have in common is two limy/calcified shells called valves, which are hinged at the back and held together with muscles like a scallop’s.  This makes them look like teeny clams – teeny, hairy clams, because the outside of the valves may be covered with hair-like setae. 

There’s a lot going on inside that shell – the body is somewhat flattened and is not segmented.  The head end has two pairs of antenna-like appendages plus two pairs of mouthparts (mandibles and maxillae).  Depending on the species, those all-purpose antennae, especially the second pair, may be used for digging, climbing, locomotion, and feeding, and males use them to clasp females.  The thorax area has three pairs of legs that are variously used for locomotion, respiration and grooming.  The rear end has two long “tails” called caudal or furcal rami that can also be used for locomotion.  The appendages can be tucked inside the valves and the valves pulled shut if the creature is alarmed. 

Ostracods come in a variety of colors from dark gray to yellow to red to blotched, and species living on green plants are often gray, green or brown.  Most freshwater forms measure between 1mm and 3mm (1/8”), but one South American freshwater species is about a half-inch long, and some marine species are giants at almost 1 ¼” (“as big as a meatball,” says one source).  

Scientists tell us that when they collect ostracods, most of the individuals they find are female.  The number of males in a population depends on an ostracod’s species, and the type of reproduction is determined by the number of males in the population.  Reproduction by parthenogenesis (virgin birth) is common, especially in freshwater ostracods (in some species, males have never been found), but in species with more males, sexual reproduction is de rigueur.  Eggs are laid on rocks and vegetation or simply loosed into the water.  The eggs hatch into active Nauplius larvae (named after Poseidon’s son) that have appendages on their head for swimming and that shed eight times on their way to adulthood.  Eggs that are left in the mud when an ephemeral pond dries up will hatch when water returns, no matter how long it takes. 

A diverse crowd like the ostracods shows up on many rungs of the trophic ladder.  There are carnivores/predators, herbivores, detritivores, and scavengers but ostracods are generally characterized as omnivorous scavengers.  They eat tiny organisms like algae, diatoms, bacteria, mold, and pieces of organic detritus that are present in the water or on vegetation.  Some deliver food to their mouthparts via a current set up by the appendages.  The BugLady found a picture of an ostracod straddling an aquatic leaf, rasping off food on both sides as it moved along the edge of the leaf.  Ostracods are eaten by hydra and other benthic organisms and by small fish, larval salamanders, and waterfowl.  One species has been shown to be able to survive a trip through a bluegill’s digestive tract.

Whether swimming or creeping, ostracods locomote by extending their appendages from between the valves, with the valves “ajar” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F32fyIeVBAM.  Their main sense is touch – they move their antennae constantly and also have sensory hairs on their bodies.  A Nauplius larva has a simple eye, as do the adults of some species.

The Ward Science supply company will sell you some ostracods, but they urge consumer responsibility: “Never purchase living specimens without having a disposition strategy in place,” they say, later adding that “In order to protect our environment, do not release any of these organisms into the wild. When you are done with the crustaceans, add bleach to the culture and dump it down the drain.”  Good on you, Ward Science Supply.  Hope everyone is listening. 

Several species of marine ostracods have bioluminescence in their bag of tricks (they use luciferin and luciferase, the same two chemicals that lightning beetles use), and they glow blue at night in the water and on the sand https://oceanwire.wordpress.com/tag/ostracod-crustaceans/.  The light is in a secretion that the ostracod releases when it is disturbed, and some species use it, like fireflies, to attract mates.  The Japanese call them sea fireflies (umi-hotaru), and the BugLady came across an anecdote about how Japanese sailors during WWII read their instruments and charts by the light of bowls of luminescent ostracods, because regular light sources would have revealed their presence to the enemy. 

For a deeper dive into ostracods (including a peek inside), here’s an article about them from the University of Florida’s great “Featured Creature” series https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/ostracods.html.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

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

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

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).

A water lily’s leaf and flower stay on the water’s surface instead of being dragged under by the weight of its long stem because the flexible, hollow stalk is divided into a series of air bladders that buoy it up.  

A few insect species are serious water lily specialists, living out their days on the plants.  Like Lilypad Forktail damselflies, rarely seen away from them, whose connection is so strong that as they sit on a leaf, the tip of their abdomen is bent down touch it.  And like Donacia beetles, whose eggs are laid at the base of the lily leaf and whose larvae attach themselves to the underwater parts of the plant, from which they get both food and oxygen, pupating in a silken cocoon that is dry inside because the air bubbles that leaked from the chewed stem and provided oxygen to the larva have blown the water from the cocoon. 

The rhizome of yellow water lily was an important medicine and food of Native Americans (they ate the seeds like popcorn, too), but white water lily was used more for medicine.  Henry David Thoreau (that silver-tongued romantic) associated the white water lily with young men picking its flowers on their way to church in Concord, and also said that the flower “reminds me of a young country maiden…wholesome as the odor of a cow.”  He reported smoking a stem once and said that it was the “most noxious thing I ever smoked.” 

The water lily community has many stories to tell, and the BugLady has already written a few of them.  Here’s a tale about some awesome little bugs that she met for the first time at Riveredge Nature Center toward the end of July, 2013 (at the time, BugFan Joanne said, “I’m in wetlands all the time, and I’ve never seen these before!”  Ditto!).  Some of the water lily leaves hosted masses of the planthoppers for a few weeks, but then they disappeared.  Despite searching for them every summer since then, it wasn’t until the summer of 2023 that the BugLady finally found another one (one!).  

COMMON WATER LILY/POND LILY PLANTHOPPERS (Megamelus davisi), known in more rarefied circles as the Davis’s Megamelus, are in the bug family Delphacidae, the Delphacid Planthoppers.  At first, the BugLady thought they were nymphs, because of their short wing pads, but they were adults.  Adult CWLPs come in either reduced-winged (brachypterous) or long-winged (macropterous) models https://bugguide.net/node/view/29578/bgimage, and the brachypterous form is more numerous. 

CWLPs are found in the eastern half of the US, but the species has made a surprise appearance in Hawaii.  They like ponds and extremely slow streams where white water lilies (genus Nymphaea) grow, and they are also found on the unrelated broad-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans).  Most of their relatives feed on grasses, but CWLPs eat any part of the water lilies or pondweeds that sticks up above the water line.  They’re considered pests if you’re trying to propagate young water lilies, but they don’t damage older, established plants.  Another species of Megamelus is welcomed as a biological control of water hyacinth in Florida. 

Their nymphs are meals for ravenous water treaders (Mesovelia sphttps://bugguide.net/node/view/1940717/bgimage); they’re attacked by a big-headed fly called Pipunculus varius, and their eggs are parasitized by an exceedingly tiny fairy wasp with the lovely name of Polynema ema https://bugguide.net/node/view/342131/bgimage, whose range exactly matches that of the CWLP because it has been introduced to Hawaii to hassle them there.  When a fairy wasp lays her egg on a planthopper egg, she “marks” it with her ovipositor so other females will leave it alone, because there isn’t enough food in the egg for two wasp larvae to share.  CWLPs are also noted in a website dedicated to “Fly Fishing Entomology,” although duplicating a fish food that is less than a quarter-inch long would take dedication, indeed.   

Females puncture water lily leaves, stems, and midribs to insert single eggs, and the plant obligingly produces tissue that covers the hole (the nymph’s eventual exit does leave a lasting scar, though).  There are three generations each year, and the fall generation, which outlasts the disintegrating water lily leaves, overwinters as almost mature nymphs in the leaf litter of shoreline plants.  When they become active again in late spring, they move out over the water and recolonize the lily leaves. 

So, what’s this little critter famous for? 

First, members of the family Delphacidae are outfitted with spurs (calcars) of various sizes and shapes on their hind tibias (“shins”), but CWLPs are overachievers – their spurs are described as “large,” “moveable,” and even “paddle-like” flaps complete with sensory hairs https://bugguide.net/node/view/1959085/bgimage.  There are any number of guesses about what these flaps do for the CWLP.  Are they oars that help CWLPs move across the water to new plants?  Are they skates?  According to a note in the 1923 “Bulletin of the State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut,” “its large spurs undoubtedly support it when, by a mischance, it lands on the water.”  Or, queried the “Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences” (Vol. 5, 1886–97), “Is not the large, foliaceous spur in this species an adaptation of Nature to enable these insects to leap more readily from the surface of the water, about which they make their home?”  [This theory seems to be the current front-runner.]   

Second, in the “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe” category, consider the planthopper-frog connection that has been documented in New York State.  Northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) love to eat CWLPs during the summer (they also like aquatic springtails).  CWLPs are the primary food of cricket frogs as the frogs prepare for their own fall migrations to wintering sites, too.  According to the (terrific) New York State Conservationist magazine, “a single cricket frog might spend several hours on one lily pad, devouring planthoppers as they move by the thousands over a lily pad.” 

In a paper called “Species decline in an outwardly healthy habitat,” forensic ecologist Jay Westerveld describes the crash of Northern cricket frog populations over much of New York State.  It seems that aerial spraying for Gypsy moths (now renamed Spongy moths) in the 1970’s wiped out entire populations of CWLPs.  When cricket frog numbers plummeted, investigators noted that they could find no CWLPs where they had once been plentiful.  Since spraying isn’t done over public water supply areas, pockets of cricket frogs remain in some wetlands adjacent to reservoirs.  Westervelt makes the point that the CWLP is a habitat specialist, and the Northern cricket frog is a food specialist.  Because the majority of CWLPs are wingless, natural recolonization by the species is painfully slow, and the bugs may need to be reintroduced in order for the frog to rebound. 

Forensic ecologist – the BugLady is ready for the TV series. 

And – PERIODICAL CICADAS – the gift that keeps on giving: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/from-dinner-parties-to-restaurants-cicadas-are-landing-in-the-kitchen-180984321/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49735720&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2700967876&spReportId=MjcwMDk2Nzg3NgS2.   

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:

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:

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