Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Out of Place

A few bugs found in odd or out-of-the-way places recently:

This female gray bird grasshopper has been roosting on this gatepost for at least 2 weeks.

This big spider spent a couple of precarious days too close to our garage-into-kitchen door.

This shot shows more clearly what a bad place this is for a spider to be. I was willing to leave him alone there, but later, while coming through from the other side of the door, I forgot he was there and accidently knocked him off the doorjamb. I decided to relocate him outside.

Young Monarch caterpillars on a feverfew plant.
As the arboretum milkweed supply continues to disappear, the hungry caterpillars are forced to abandon the barren stems and climb through all kinds of other flowers and plants in a search for more milkweed. I tried relocating some to the few plants that still have leaves. I gave some others to a willing local teacher who has plenty of milkweed. For what may be hundreds more, the pickings are getting mighty slim.

Monday, December 26, 2005

New for 2006

I spent today redecorating Bug Safari. I thought long and hard about the color scheme, and I like the way this looks, but I may still change it to something lighter for spring or summer.

Thanks to Squidfingers for the background pattern. He has a nice selection of patterns, and you can customize them in Photoshop.

I still have a new feature coming. I plan to debut it next week. I may even have some more bug pictures soon! Thanks for stopping by, and have a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mantid article in National Geographic Magazine

I just received my National Geographic magazine in the mail today, and was pleased to see an article about mantids. There was also this link with more photos, including a really neat shot of one hatching.

I haven't been able to go out bug-hunting lately, and with the cooler weather of a Southern California winter upon us, (yeah, you guys out in the midwest probably laugh at what we call winter here.) anyway, the bugs are not always as easy to find, and I haven't been making the time to go look for them. In the meantime, I am hoping to make some changes to this blog. I have an idea for a feature that I'm planning to debut after New Year's.

So, whatever you celebrate, have a good one. I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

High Density Caterpillars

The monarch larvae population is exploding at the arboretum! It seems almost every stem has a caterpillar on it. This stem had five.

In this view, I turned down the color on everything but the caterpillars, so (hopefully) they are easier to see. Can you find all 8?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Busy Bees

While I was busy at the cactus and succulent show and sale, Jerry found some cactus flowers that were keeping the bees busy.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Just a nice little ladybug

Milkweed revisited

Monarch caterpillars in abundance!

This one has just shed its skin.

A milkweed bug is caught in the act of moulting.

More milkweed bugs suck the last bit of goodness out of a seed pod before the seeds fly away.

A ladybug larva eats a yellow aphid on a milkweed flower bud. On the bud stem to the left of the ladybug is another larva, possibly a lacewing.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Some super macro shots

They're not mine, unfortunately, but really cool pictures that I want to share anyway. This person has other galleries you can click in the upper left corner of the screen. Lots of great shots. Check it out: 2005_10 Photo Gallery by kaihui at

Fun for kids of all ages

Well, I haven't taken any good pictures of bugs for a while, and I''ve been meaning to update a few things, but I've been feeling lazy.

Here's a link to a fun site I found a while back.Kathy's Critters: Live Animal Presentations for Special Events

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A monster in the bushes!

The "new" beetle

There is such diversity among the insects, I know that even in familiar surroundings, like my own back yard, I have a chance to see something I've never seen before. And so I did today. I was not surprised, but delighted none the less. This little beetle, about the size of a large ladybug, was on my patio wall. I thought it's shell looked like ceramic pottery. I decided to post the pictures first, and try to identify it later.

Update: I have figured out what kind of beetle this is. Click here for details.

When I first saw the beetle, it was resting.

After taking a few pictures of it at rest, I "goosed" it to see what it would do. All of a sudden, out popped the head, antennae and legs.

It seemed to have one bum leg, but it was running all over the place.

Then I picked it up. Just like a ladybug, it climbed up my hand, spread its wings, and flew away.

Note: I really don't like seeing my hand or fingers in my close up photos, although sometimes, it's hard to avoid it. When I see my fingers up close, I feel like I'm looking at a "5-pack of pink sausages". This shot is so close, though, you (almost) can't tell it's a hand.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Spider video

Found this tonight and thought it was cool.
Putfile - Spider in air

More monarch pictures

Yes, this is the same chrysalis I've been watching for weeks now. I couldn't resist this picture of it covered with droplets of rain.

Doing what caterpillars do best.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hatchling caterpillars, later in the day

Here's a little closer view of the caterpillars, now several hours later. They have darkened up a little bit, and you can see some little spots and even some fine hairs. If they have hair, they can't be cutworms.

Caterpillars hatching

Noticed these on my patio wall today. I don't know what kind they are. I'm guessing some kind of cutworm.

Click the picture to enlarge, then hover over the bottom right corner till you see an icon with a circle and some arrows, and if you click on that, the picture should enlarge again. You can see some of the caterpillars eating their eggshells.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

If only...

At this time of year, we still have an abundance of spiders around the house, many of them large. Some are infiltrating our personal space, and even our food. I wish I could do more to ease the anxiety of the spider-phobic in my family. I even made this sign:

Sorry, guys. No guarantees. Some days, life just gives you a spider.

Eye of the beholder

OK, so what do you think is more unsightly: this big spider, or the 42 year old "cottage cheese" ceiling that it was clinging to?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Monarch Butterflies

There were lots of monarchs at the arboretum today. I only wish I was fast enough to photograph them in flight.

I'm seeing more caterpillars, too.

A fallen wing

Oh, and this was the caterpillar that was in the "J" position last week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Find me in this magazine!

In September, I did a Bug Safari at the arboretum. There was a photographer following us around, which they do sometimes. This guy called me the following week and said he was going to have several photos, including one of me, in this magazine. The November issue came out today, and sure enough, there I am! The article, which focuses on garden activities for children, touches only briefly on the Bug Safari, among other local programs, but all the pictures were taken there.

The article begins on page 108. The picture of me is on page 110.

I'm trying to find a better way to save this article, but the magazine website is not cooperating.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


What's in your lunch?

I bought some grapes at the market today, and served them with our lunch. As I was plucking them off one by one, I encountered what I thought was a dog hair. (I have a yellow lab. His hair gets everywhere.) Anyway, as I picked it off, I realized it was a strand of spider silk. I didn't think too much of it unitl I had pulled a few more grapes from the stem, revealing this egg sac.

I pulled all the rest of the grapes off and put the stem with the spider eggs outside.

The wasp mimic fly

I found this in my back yard this morning while I was out catching flies for my little yellow frog. At first, I thought it was a yellow jacket, but on closer inspection, I realized it was actually a fly. Since I had my net, I caught it and put it in a jar so I could see it better and take some pictures.

It had very wasp-like pattern and coloring on its back.

But the face of a fly, and a fly's little antennas.

In this view, it was rubbing its front legs together, fly-style.


Here you can see the fly's tongue. Ok, so it's definitely a fly. I had never seen one like this before, so I looked it up online ( It's a wasp-mimic fly of the Spilomyia species.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dead bugs found in car.

Michael found these dead bugs while cleaning his girlfriend's car. These dessicated insects looked very well preserved in the corner of the rear window.

Hitchhiking can be dangerous, even for bugs.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bugs and stuff

All summer, I saw plenty of Monarch butterflies, and some eggs, when I took the time to search for them under the leaves. I saw no caterpillars though. I blamed it on the ever-present wasps on patrol for food items for their young. I was surprised and delighted to see that this one had survived its childhood unnoticed, except by me.

I don't usually get very good pictures of flying insects. They move too fast for me. This big-eyed fly was more cooperative.

This late-season beetle was on the bush next to where the fly was. It was going for the nectar in those little flowers.

Carpenter bees are another tough one for me. this one is almost in focus!

OK, no bugs here, but the Buddha's Hand tree was especially full of large "hands", so I thought I'd sneak a couple of 'em in here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Insect fair purchases

A T shirt with a cool praying mantis on it. (from the UC Riverside booth, obviously)

And...3 eggs that will hopefully hatch in a couple of months into ......


The Australian Giant Prickly Stick insect, AKA Macleay's Spectre
Extatosoma tiaratum

(This photo is from the internet, because I was not able to get a good picture yesterday through their screened enclosure at the fair.)

Regarding the pricing on the orchid mantis, I'm sorry to say I didn't even look at the price, because I had no intentions of buying one, but generally exotic mantids sell for $15.00 and up as small nymphs. A subadult like the orchid mantis could well be $30.00 or more.

My prickly stick eggs were $10.00 for all 3. This is the first time I have seen those eggs for sale. The insects themselves are generally not sold, but displayed for educational purposes only. So I feel lucky to have been able to buy the eggs.
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