Category Archives: Insect

Beneficial Insects: Nice Lice?

Dateline:  April 27, 2012

A dragonfly lands on a branch of my Winged Elm

OK, I’m itchy…I’ve been sitting at the computer scrolling through bugguide.net to try and identify a tiny insect that was on my Winged Elm (Ulmus alata). I was actually giving the tree a once over because it is a larval host for Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) and I wanted to see if I had any success thus far by trying to locate larvae. I specifically chose this tree to serve as a butterfly attractant for that species, which I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting.

Whatever is this mysterious bug?

I saw something stationed along a limb and I use the term limb loosely as the tree is a mere sapling. The creature was way too small to see without a magnifying glass or at least reading glasses. I took a photo and headed inside to see what I could see via the magic of computer zoom. It looked a little like a fat caddisfly if a caddisfly would have a bee shape abdomen and long thin antenna. Back outside to get a few more photos. Moving the stick of a limb every which way to get a better shot from different angles sent the little creature on a walk up toward the trunk. Satisfied that at least one or two of the numerous photos would provide a clue, I headed back in on my quest for knowledge.

Top of my new insect friend

Well, scrolling through all the caddisflies proved that wasn’t it. It looked a little like it should be a creature with an aquatic start, but I was having no luck. The wing shape seemed a little moth-like and tiger moth came to mind. Tiger and lichen moths are grouped together so I tried lichen in the search box since that was what the bug seemed intent on. Lo and behold, I found a critter that seemed close… stout barklice. EWWWWWWWWWWW! My immediate reaction was to reach for a nit comb and some Rid® shampoo.

It certainly has long antenna

I searched up a rung or two in the taxonomy and began scrolling through various photos of barklice. FINALLY, I found what I believe is my critter. It is in the Insect Order Psocodea that consists of Barklice, Booklice and Parasitic Lice. I was a little disappointed that it is called Common Barklice…with all this effort, there doesn’t seem to be anything common about it. The scientific name is Cerastipsocus venosus and they don’t feed on living plants. They work as a decomposer/recycler so it is a beneficial addition to the landscape. The Galveston County (TX)  Master Gardeners had this to say:

The term lice as part of the common name of these tree dwellers is quite misleading as these insects are neither parasitic nor louse-like in appearance. Upon being informed of the identification of this insect, the typical response of a gardener is a widening of the eyes and other momentary indications of being aghast! Our Galveston County Extension Horticulture Agent advises us to precede the identification with a notation of Congratulations, you have beneficial insects in your landscape!

I like their style! 😉

Up close, Barklice have a face only a mother could love

This particular species of barklice eats lichen so it is one of nature’s cleanup crewmembers. Some barklice build tents along the trunk and limbs of trees. People are often alarmed by this and seek help in what pesticides to use to clear up the culprits. Since the insects are not harmful the recommendation is to hit them with a spray of water if their habits offend your senses. That should send them on their way…at least for a brief time. Personally, I’m glad they are around at my place. I’m likin my lichen, but sometimes it can really put a coat on a tree so anything that keeps things balanced is a keeper to me. Of course, people have that aesthetic fear of nature…you know…so they feel compelled to disburse the BUGS!

Munching away on lichen they prefer trees with smooth bark

In reading I learned that they often travel in packs and are given the common name of bark cattle since apparently disturbing one sends them all on the run. Thank GOODNESS I only found the one rogue specimen…I may have had a heart attack if I’d found a herd of unidentifiable insects. And, with over 3500 species in Psocomorpha the fact that I was even able to FIND the type of creature, let along the seemingly exact species is a miracle…but I think it is more tenacity and luck. Now, I’m off to find my lasso and see if I can’t get in on the roundup to find this fellow’s friends!

Id say my barklouse is doing a good job!

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on April 27, 2012 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

Garden Pests? Invite the Myrmeleontiformias

Dateline: June 13, 2014*

likely a Mymeleon sp. (Family Myrmeleontidae)

Quite a mouthful.  Antlions and owlflies may be a tad easier to say for the non-entomologists such as myself.  They are members of the Insect suborder Myrmeleontiformia.  Still not familiar?  Ok, let’s put it in terms of their relatives that tend to get all the glory: Lacewings!  Along with some additional allies, all are members of the Order Neuroptera.

Ok, enough with the scientific name mumbo jumbo.  What the heck will they do to help me in my garden?

on dried palmetto frond

Antlion adults eat nectar and pollen and live for about 30-45 days. Some Antlion adult species also eat caterpillars and aphids.

Antlions as adults are a rather attractive flying insect which can easily be mistaken for a dragonfly in flight.  The majority of Ant Lion species are nocturnal for the most part. Your best bet at seeing them in flight is at dusk or at artificial lights at night.  The species shown in the photos can be seen up close and personal when they rest during the day. They try to blend in with plants…generally some dried stalk of taller grasses or, as shown here, comfy on a Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) frond.  I inadvertently disturbed this fella and (s)he moved over to the green frond.

startled, it moved to greener pastures

The ones pictured here are most likely Mymeleon spp. (Family Myrmeleontidae).

Antlions undergo complete metamorphosis. The female searches for a spot where she taps her abdomen and then inserts a single egg below ground.  Several eggs may be laid in the same area, up to 20 eggs per site. As the eggs hatch, the larval stage is formed and this is likely the most beneficial stage.

Look at the curved antenna

The larval stage is commonly known as Doodlebugs, because in their quest to find just the right spot to build their pits, the bugs scurry around drawing “doodles” in the sand. The larvae build a funnel shaped pit and wait for an ant, termite or other insect to slip on the loose sand and fall in.  As the prey slides over the edge and into the pit, the Doodlebug uses its jaws to paralyze the ant by injecting poison. Then it sucks out the vital juices. Once they finish their meal, they toss the skeletal remains out of the pit. Rather like spitting out a watermelon pit in order to eat the next bite.

Showing the wings

The larval stage is a great way for children to observe and explore the world of insects. Antlions stay in the larval form for 1 to 3 years, followed by a cocoon stage made of sand and silk for about a month.  Kids can replicate their habitat by using a container filled with sand, feeding the larvae ants and providing water droplets.

With 22 species found throughout Florida, there are plenty of these workhorses.

A silvery look, this one easily blends in with the airplane wire used to stablize the shed

In addition to keeping some pest species in order, Antlion larvae serve as hosts to parasitic insects including wasps and flies.  They also are eaten by birds that are alerted to their whereabouts by spying the pits created by the larvae.

Next up in the world of Myrmeleontiformia are Owlflies, members of the Ascalaphidae Family. The Owlfly I have encountered is in the Genus Ululodes.

The Owl Fly can easily be identified by its long antenna

Adult Owlflies are similar in appearance to Ant Lions, but they have longgggggggggggggg antenna. They try to blend in with plants by bending their abdomen out to emulate a stick or thin branch on dried out stalks of grasses. Take my word for it, they can be very convincing.   The adults eat “on the wing”, similar to dragonflies.

I will fool you by looking like a stick

Rather than laying eggs underground like the Ant Lion, they go high, laying eggs along the stalk of tall dried grasses. The larva has a similar appearance to the Ant Lion with scary looking mandibles. When the larva hatch they congregate briefly before heading down into the leaf litter or up into trees to chow down in a solitary fashion.  They can be cannibalistic so they part ways with their siblings rather quickly.  When they are fattened up, they build their cocoons in the leaf litter.

Check out the Owlfly eggs. They are very tiny

This brings up an important point.   At all times of year it is imperative to leave some uncut debris as habitat to support these beneficial insects.  If you clear away every last stalk of dried grasses, Owlflies have no place to lay their eggs.  If you clear away all the leaf litter, they have no where to prey upon insects and no safe environment to form their cocoons.

Owl Fly larvae are an interesting bunch

I used to think that cutting down the dried native grass seedheads in spring while leaving the remains in a brush pile was adequate for use by the fauna. After all, the debris was available for the birds to pick up as building materials and any insects would still be there…like a centralized buffet. After seeing the habitat necessary for the Owlfly, I leave quite a bit of tall dead materials for them to use as support structures to lay their eggs. The resulting increase in the numbers of Owlflies at my place has proved quite rewarding.

Leave some tall dried brush for the Owl Fly

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on June 13, 2014 at the defunct national blog nativeplantwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

Flipping My Earwig

Dateline: August 9, 2013*

Earwigs (Doru taeniatum) are predators of aphids and others

When I think of earwigs I recall my youth and the creepy crawly insects that were hidden in our somewhat damp basement.  Never did I consider that they could be beneficial in any way.

Of course likely those I encountered in the past were exotics. Earwigs,

“can devastate seedling vegetables or annual flowers and often seriously damage maturing soft fruit or corn silks, they also have a beneficial role in the landscape and have been shown to be important predators of aphids.

Another benefit is that earwigs eliminate decaying organic materials from the environment. They eat algae, fungi, mosses, pollen as well as insects, spiders and mites both dead and live.

Two of the younger members of the clan

This week I discovered a family living in the folds of a Redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana) leaf.  I was thrilled to discover they are a native variety called the Lined Earwig (Doru taeniatum).  With its bright, shiny pallor that glistens in the sunshine it doesn’t seem creepy to me at all.

Enjoying the sunshine while dancing on the Bidens alba

Earwigs are generally nocturnal, although I’ve seen my guys out and about during the day in recent times,  dancing quickly up and down the Bidens alba and grass seedheads.  The genus Doru are important caterpillar predators and have a particular taste for the egg of the velvetbean caterpillar, a pest of pod plants especially soybeans.

Family oriented

Unlike a lot of the insect world, the momma earwigs provide care to their offspring, feeding their nymphs through regurgitation.  They do, however, seem to play favorites.

Still growing up, this one doesnt seem to quite have full wings.

Rumor has it that they fly, but I my bunch didn’t take to the airways.  An earwig’s defense mechanism is to squirt foul smelling liquid or use the pinchers to…well…PINCH! Stand back and keep your fingers away, or just don’t annoy the little buggers.

Tachinid Flies are an enemy of earwigs

Predators include the Tachinid fly, toads, birds, chickens and ducks.  On a good note, natural enemies of the exotics, include arboreal earwigs (Doru taeniatum). So, I’m welcoming my new little friends!

Out and about in the sunshine eating Bahai grass seedhead (YAY!!!)

While large populations may damage grass and be a pest if they get inside your home, they are generally harmless preying on more harmful insects.  Just use common sense to keep home areas free from dampness.

So, while earwigs as a family may be a mixed bag, I’d vote for keeping my friendly native genus around.

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on August 9, 2013 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

The Mydas Touch

Dateline: May 13, 2011*

Lynx spider eating stink bug (a good thing)

I’m always excited when I find a new species to add to my “Florida buggy life-list”. Yes, I maintain a sort of life list of the insects and spiders that I am able to identify in my beautiful wildlife garden. I then try to determine whether of not they can prove to be beneficial in the garden. Some are a mixed bag, such as the Green Lynx spider. It is a spider, so it eats destructive bugs and is a food source for birds, but it also has a habit of eating pollinators. I tend to like them having observed grasshoppers in their clutches. I just hope that the pollinators are smart enough to avoid their grasp. At any rate, I suppose it is Mother Nature keeping us in balance. If a certain insect seems destructive, I learn how to control them without resorting to chemicals, much as I did with the Cottonwood Leaf Beetle where I used handpicking as my method of control. (Editor’s note:  as I have evolved and learned more about wildlife gardening, I would not put handpicked insects into soapy water, I would merely squish them and place them in the compost pile to be recycled back into the earth.)

Lynx eating pollinator (not such a good thing)

Amazingly, I find new insect species all the time, despite having lived in this location 5 years. This week was no exception. I was outside with the dogs having an afternoon stroll in record high heat when I saw a VERY LARGE insect land on the wood chip mulch pile. I was excited because it was something I had never seen before. I had to race to get a camera and unfortunately, the one that was “loaded” was my zoom camera which I generally don’t use for the insect pictures since I’m not good at getting close-up detail with it (thus the less-than-quality photo). I zeroed in as best I could and snapped a few shots. My initial thought was that it was some sort of robberfly.

When “new bug” flew off, I headed to the computer to do some research. “Black orange robberfly Florida” was what I put into my Goodsearch search engine that is powered by Yahoo (not a Google fan). I scanned the results and saw there was a listing from whatsthatbug.com, a favorite insect ID site of mine. Sure enough, there was a picture of my finding, Mydas Fly (Mydas clavatus). Then, as I always do, I headed on over to bugguide.net to confirm my findings and to see what information I could learn:

Adults sometimes found on flowers, presumably taking nectar. Some sources say adults take caterpillars, flies, bees, and true bugs. Others are skeptical of this. Bugguide further expands, “Eggs are laid singly in soil or rotting wood. … Mydas larvae prey on beetle larvae, esp. those of June beetles. Larvae pupate close to soil (or wood?) surface… Adults are active only in mid-summer. Mating system in this species unknown.”

Mydas Fly


Since the University of Florida didn’t have it listed as a “Featured Creature”, I turned to the University of Arkansas who, in addition to behavioral data, stated:

“…Adults were long presumed to be predaceous, but the lack of mandibles along with other features of mouthpart morphology and observations of flower feeding tend to indicate that they consume nectar.”… Larvae are associated with decaying stumps and logs, where they feed on scarab beetle larvae.

Bottom line: I vote beneficial. Flower feeding always produces some pollination ability. Got grubs? Mydas Fly larvae will help in control, although the birds might not want to share those delectables.

What are your favorite insects?

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on May 13, 2011 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

 

Balance in the Garden: Can Fruit Flies Help Weed Control?

Dateline: February 7, 2015*

A tiny fruit fly on Bidens alba

Funny that when I think of fruit flies I immediately feel the need to swat something around the bowl of fruit on the counter or rinse the nearest apple. They really don’t conjure up visions of garden weeds.

But, if you think of fruit in terms of a dictionary definition:

The ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant, together with accessory parts, containing the seeds and occurring in a wide variety of forms.”

you might just come around to realizing that a fruit fly can play a role in keeping some weedy plants in check.

According to the USDA many species in the Fruit Fly (Tephritidae) family are economically important. Some damage fruit and other crops, while other species are used as agents of biological control to reduce populations of pest weed species.

Meet my new fruit fly friend (Dioxyna sp. likely picciola). A pretty little thing with picturesque wings, I spotted this miniscule fly on some Florida native Spanish Needle flowers (Bidens alba). Mind you, it is so tiny that I didn’t really see it with my naked eye. I saw some movement on the flower so I took a close-up photo and investigated my find via the zoom of the computer screen.

Mating pair of fruit flies

I thought my friend was just enjoying the nectar of this “pollinator’s dream” native plant, but a few days later I captured a photo of a mating pair and come to find out that this particular species of diptera may be using the B. alba as a host plant. It may also use other members of the Aster family such as Coreopsis sp.

So, the fly I initially saw might have been laying eggs in the fruits of the flowers, which is not to say they aren’t drinking some of the sweet elixir at the same time.

They have such beautiful wing markings

If they indeed use the seed as a host, well, it would make sense that this might inhibit some seed from being viable, thus keeping down the numbers of fertile individuals available to be scattered by wind, rain or animal for replanting. Mom Nature…such a smarty with her built in checks and balances!

Is there a resulting cause and effect from the human inclination to control insects in the quest for unblemished, perfect fruit? Does killing a fruit fly that might nosh on the fleshy part of a plum also kill the fruit fly that noshes on the seeds of a plant with aggressive tendencies?

We need to rethink our approach in the garden. Stop worrying about the perfection of flowers and minor spots on fruits and start thinking about the overall roll of flora and fauna in the scheme of things.

Rejoice not only when a butterfly caterpillar chews on your plants, but also rejoice when ANY of the arthropods chew away. A sustainable, working garden should be the goal.

Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) have prolific amounts of seeds, so having a readily available biological control agent is great

In addition, these flies will do double duty and serve as food for predators such as reptiles, amphibians and spiders and act as hosts for parasitic wasps and others. That’s what makes the world go round.

Crab Spider on B. alba: waiting for a fruit fly meal?

Consider that each element in your beautiful wildlife garden works hand in hand with other elements, so it is important to allow each element to perform the job intended and not alter it so drastically through use of chemicals to control insects we may find offensive. A pest of one may be a meal for another.

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 7, 2015 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

Resources:

General Reference for Fruit Fly ProgramsTephritidae, Developed by: USDA,APHIS,PPQ, Pest Detection and Management Programs, Prepared by: Jeffrey N.L. Stibick,Date: March, 2004

 

A Dozen Diurnal Moths

Dateline: August 13, 2015*

Bella Moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)

Diurnal moths fly during the day rather than at night like the majority of moths.  Some are quite pretty and are often mistaken for butterflies.  One way to differentiate between the butterflies and moths is to look at the antenna.  Moths have feathered antenna and butterflies have clubbed ends.

So, here is a dozen diurnal moths that have visited my Central Florida yard from time to time.

Bella Moth (Utetheisa ornatrix) uses Rabbitbells (Crotalaria rotundifolia) as a larval host in my garden:

Bella Moth nectaring on Bidens alba

Small Frosted Wave Moth (Scopula lautaria):

Frosted Wave Moth

Clouded Crimson Moth (Schinia gaurae) uses Southern Beeblossom  (Oenothera simulans) as a larval host at my place:

Clouded Crimson nectaring on Bidens alba

Red-waisted Florella Moth (Syngamia florella) uses Rubiaceae family of plants, including Buttonweed (Spermacoce spp) as larval hosts:

nectaring on Bidens alba

Diaphania Moth (Diaphania modialis) Host: Creeping Cucumber (Melothria pendula):

Diaphania Moth on Bidens alba (are you beginning to see a pattern?)

Coffee-loving Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta tyralis) host: Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa ) :

coffee moth nectaring on Tickseed (Coreopsis sp.), the state wildflower of Florida

Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) Hosts: grasses, lichens, and spike-rushes (Eleocharis spp.):

scape moth nectaring on Saltbush; Look at those feathery antenna

Litter Moth (Idia americalis) larvae feed on lichens:

Litter moth

Milky Urola Moth  (Argyria lacteella):

Milky Urola nectaring on Saltbush

Snowy Urola Moth (Urola nivalis)  lavae feed on grasses; Ligustrum:

snowy urola moth

Yellow-Banded Wasp Moth (Syntomeida ipomoeae) Host: morning-glory (Ipomoea spp.):

wasp moth nectaring on Bidens alba

Black-dotted Spragueia Moth (Spragueia onagrus) hosts: Saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), Castanea pumila, Zea mays:

Spragueia moth resting on leaf of Bidens alba

Add some native larval host plants to attract these beauties and increase their populations your garden.

Larval host Resources:
HOSTS – a Database of the World’s Lepidopteran Hostplants
Bugguide.net
Butterflies and Moths of North America

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on August 13, 2015 at the defunct national blog nativeplantwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

Love is In the Air in My Native Plant Garden

Last of the Valentine’s Day love series.

Dateline:  February 13, 2015*

It’s that time of year!  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day 2015, so I thought I would share the annual lovefest in my garden.  I attribute my many reproducing critters to having the host plants they need to survive. They are the native plants that grace my wildlife garden.  A different kind of love involves the predators who enjoy the prey that feed on the native plants.  You can take a look at the partnering of some native plants and insects through the eyes of Ellen Honeycutt and from my place in other past years.

So, I bring you the power of love in my garden:

>Banded Winged Dragonflies find the taller sedge next to the pond a perfect love nest
>Banded Winged Dragonflies find the taller sedge next to the pond a perfect love nest
Brown anoles show no shame on the bricks around the base of the house
Brown anoles show no shame on the bricks around the base of the house
Not to be outdone, the native green anoles take to the fence
Not to be outdone, the native green anoles take to the fence
Diptera find dry plant debris perfect
Diptera find dry plant debris perfect
Although Gulf Fritillary Butterflies (Agraulis vanillae) use Passiflora incarnata as a host, they seem drunk in love from the sweet scent of Bidens alba
Although Gulf Fritillary Butterflies (Agraulis vanillae) use Passiflora incarnata as a host, they seem drunk in love from the sweet scent of Bidens alba
Leaf-footed Bugs (Acanthocephala terminalis) hide in the Coral Honeysuckle
Leaf-footed Bugs (Acanthocephala terminalis) hide in the Coral Honeysuckle
Lilypad Forktail Damselflies (Ischnura kellicotti) prefer the horizontal surface of American White Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) from which is drawn their common name
Lilypad Forktail Damselflies (Ischnura kellicotti) prefer the horizontal surface of American White Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) from which is drawn their common name
Lovebugs are always in love as this group shows while nectaring on Tall Elephantfoot (Elephantopus elatus)
Lovebugs are always in love as this group shows while nectaring on Tall Elephantfoot (Elephantopus elatus)
Craneflies hit the blackberries
Craneflies hit the blackberries
Fruitflies use the Bidens alba where the female will lay her eggs keeping the seeds in check
Fruitflies use the Bidens alba where the female will lay her eggs keeping the seeds in check
Mydas Flies like the dried parts of Blue stem grasses
Mydas Flies like the dried parts of Blue stem grasses
Whirlabout Skipper Butterfly (Polites vibex) don't go very far from the grasses which is their larval host
Whirlabout Skipper Butterfly (Polites vibex) don’t go very far from the grasses which is their larval host
argined Leatherwing Soldier Beetles (Chauliognathus marginatus) find Rattlesnakemaster (Eryngium yuccifolium) to their liking
Margined Leatherwing Soldier Beetles (Chauliognathus marginatus) find Rattlesnakemaster (Eryngium yuccifolium) to their liking
Stinkbugs on the Patridge Pea which is a host for many butterflies as well
Stinkbugs on the Patridge Pea which is a host for many butterflies as well
Last but not least the oldtimers get in on the act as these tattered Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) have a last hurrah
Last but not least the oldtimers get in on the act as these tattered Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) have a last hurrah

Happy Valentine’s Day.  May you show the love of nature by planting your own native plant and wildlife garden.

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 13, 2015 at the defunct national blog nativeplantwildlifegarden[dot]com . Click the date to view reader comments.

Garden Love is in the Air

Dateline: February 13, 2013*

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day and I just thought I would share the love of my garden with you all.  Hmmmmm, maybe that is love IN my garden.  I did a similar article a while back, but there can never be too much L♥VE!  I present to you, some more of my mating friends and what entices them to visit my place.

anoles052110-e1360713863995Green Anoles (Anolis carolinensis):  These comical reptiles eat insects so they are attracted to plants, such as Bidens alba, that attract insects.  I’ve written in the past about their affinity for the Syrphid Fly.

syrphidfliesinlove091511-e1360714015279Speaking of Syrphid Flies: They are bee mimics who perform pollination duties. Larvae are predators of aphids, thrips and caterpillars. This couple is likely Toxomerus spp.

deltabeetle052512-e1360714579715Delta Flower Scarab (Trigonopeltastes delta):  Here they are shown on Rattlesnakemaster, but I’ve also found them on Barbara’s Buttons. Larvae are found in decaying wood.

beetlelove052012-e1360714124370Yellow-marked Buprestid Beetles (Acmaeodera spp.): This couple seems to love the Black-eyed Susans.  Larvae are wood borers, maybe not the best thing, but heck, the holes will give haven to solitary bees and I’m sure the birds would add them to the menu…they look “lemony”.

matingbandeddragonflyjune2012-e1360714469324Banded Pennant Dragonflies (Celithemis fasciata) stop by the pond since I leave dead branches as landing stations.

matingcassiusblue072812-e1360714432166Cassius Blue Butterfly (Leptotes cassius):  They stop at my place because I provide a native larval host plants, Doctorbush (Plumbago zeylanica aka P. scandens).  This butterfly has been declared a Federally-designated Threatened species due to similarity of appearance to the endangered Miami Blue Butterfly.

matingpalamedesswallowtailsaugust2012a-e1360714498195The Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio palamedes) relies exclusively on Redbay (Persea borbonia) as a larval host, which has been afflicted with laurel wilt disease brought on by a fungus carried by an invasive insect. This beetle’s presence threatens not only the tree, but this beautiful species as well.

These two have a peeping tom hanging out in the lower right hand corner.
These two have a peeping tom hanging out in the lower right hand corner.

Grasshoppers:  Ok, we can’t always love what’s in love around our place, but grasshopper nymphs are a major component of baby bird food, so sometimes in the interest of our wildlife friends, it is necessary for us to look the other way.  These guys are shown on dogfennel, which is unlikely to show any lasting damage.

matinggulffrits091611a-e1360715623368Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) uses Passionvine as a larval host.  At my place, I provide native Passiflora incarnata and this prolific butterfly flutters around in droves.  They even stayed all winter this year and I have had caterpillars throughout the season.

So, this is my troop of lovers.  Who do you love, or who is in your love nest?

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 13, 2013 at the defunct national blog nativeplantwildlifegarden[dot]com . Click the date to view reader comments.

When Bugs Hug

Continuing the Valentine’s week love, a republish of a lost post. Dateline: February 14, 2014
val-500x400Happy Valentine’s Day 2014.  I’ll start with a disclaimer that not all insects are bugs, but all bugs are insects. For this article I’m lumping arachnids under the bug umbrella too.  Heck, they crawl around, don’t they? Besides, spiders are often the biggest huggers of them all!

In past years for the holiday of love, I’ve posted photos of the mating creatures in my garden.  This year, I’ve decided to go a different route, and share species that are hugging other species.  IPM at its best, it brings on a whole new meaning of love you to death.

So, start humming “Let me put my arms around you Baby” while we take a walk through the garden of love:

Carolina Mantid gives a smooch to a skipper butterfly:mantidskipperjune2012-500x333

Milkweed Assassin Bug (Zelus longipes) offers a big kiss to his diptera friendassassin012412-500x500

This female jumping spider squeezes her grasshopper friendjumpingspidergrasshoppersept2012-500x500

The grasshoppers appear to be a favorite date. This yellow garden spider shows the love too:spiderhopper080311a-500x500

Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata fasciata) put the moves on a skipper butterflyambushbugskipperjuly2013-500x500

The crab spiders always share the love:crabspiderlimejuly2013a-500x500

This Robberfly loves BBB (Big Beautiful Bugs)

robberfly with Horse Fly (Tabaninae)
robberfly with Horse Fly (Tabaninae)

While some Hanging Thieves love bees to death:hangingthiefrobberflyaugust2012-500x500

Others just show the love to the flowers such as this frogfruit:robberfly060910-500x333

A motherly hug is exhibited by a fishing spider as she protects the children:fishingspiderwithsac082012a-500x500

This spider was unaffected by the “cologne” of a stink bugbugshugspiderstinksept2013-500x500

Peacock butterflies can be so beautiful that the garden spiders just can’t resist:toughspiderpeacockaugust2011-500x333

Sometimes the bee killers live up to their name:robberflybeeoct2013-500x500

yet other times they are happy to just receive flowers:robberfly093013-500x500

So I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s day and keep a happy balanced garden by planting native plants and avoiding pesticides. Hug your favorite.

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 14, 2014 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

 

Love in the Wildlife Garden

Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I decided to dust off some of my past articles of fauna showing the luv.

Dateline: July 15, 2011*

I had a completely different idea for this week’s article, but yesterday, as I reached for the case that holds my binoculars and took them out, I felt something icky and shook my hand to see a Southern Two-striped Walkingstick couple (Anisomorpha buprestoides) fall onto the patio chair. That will teach me to keep my glasses on the unscreened patio.

Walkingsticks
Walkingsticks

A Yellow Garden Spider couple was seen yesterday as well. I also witnessed a pair of Eastern Pondhawk Dragonflies “doing the deed”. Love is in the air in beautiful downtown Holopaw, FL (well, we don’t actually have a “downtown” since the entire town consists of a gas station/convenience store combo and a restaurant…oh, yeah…and a motorcycle sales and accessories shop.
Yellow Garden Spiders
Yellow Garden Spiders

So, without further adieu, I present to you, “Bugs in Luv”. Send the kids to bed.
Leaf-footed Bugs
Leaf-footed Bugs

Green Lynx Spiders:
Green Lynx Spiders
Green Lynx Spiders

Yellow-Marked Beetles:
Flatheaded Bald Cypress Sapwood Borer (Acmaeodera pulchella)
Flatheaded Bald Cypress Sapwood Borer (Acmaeodera pulchella)

Lovebugs:
Lovebugs (Plecia spp.), they live up to their name
Lovebugs (Plecia spp.), they live up to their name

Stink Bugs:
Stink Bugs
Stink Bugs

And last but not least, a pair of Duskywing Butterflies:
Duskywing Butterflies (Erynnis spp.)
Duskywing Butterflies (Erynnis spp.)

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on July 15, 2011 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.