Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A cozy spider

I noticed this little spider-bed in the ivy last night, and couldn't resist taking a peek inside:






Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stick bug news

Yesterday, one of ET's many eggs finally hatched. (I never did count all her eggs, shame on me, but I'm guessing it was somewhere between dozens and zillions.)
Anyway, here she is.


She seems very fragile and weak, but stronger today than yesterday (knock on wood).



You get a little better sense of scale here. She was running round and round the rim of her container.



Not to be outdone, one of my stash of eggs from Mrs. W's stickbug herd hatched today.

Wide Arm Mantis progress

The larger of my two new wide arm mantids shed its skin today. The new skin was still fresh and luminous when I took these pictures.







It almost looks as if it might glow in the dark. (But it won't, of course.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

You just never know

(when you might find a cool bug.)

Most of the time, my own yard is pretty much devoid of interesting bugs. Don't get me wrong, it's full of bugs, but mostly ones I see on a daily (or seasonal) basis. They are pleasing, but not surprising. But every now and then, something out of the ordinary will present itself, and send me running for my camera. Like these bugs I recently found right in my front yard, on the azalea bush:


This dragonfly was from last week. It was big, and it had the biggest set of eyes I have ever seen on a dragonfly.



I found this cute little beetle this morning. It's about the length of a ladybug, but more oblong in shape.




Sorry, I chopped off his feet in this shot.



I think it's a type of leaf beetle, Cryptocephalus. Maybe I'll run him up the flagpole at BugGuide and see who salutes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The latest additions

Wide-arm mantids. Cilnia humeralis

I only just learned of their existence at the beginning of the year. An African species. I found a place to order some, and they arrived today. Here's a first look:



Right out of the box, still in their travel containers.

I was a little disappointed by how small they are, since they had been advertised as L5, eating blue bottle flies. I hoped they would be of a sexable size so I could get a male and a female. Nick, the mantis guy, told me they were actually still too small to guarantee the sex, but he would try to pick out one of each. At that point, I figured they must be pretty tiny, and it turns out I was right.

They are bright and healthy, however. There is a green one that's a little bigger, and a multi-colored one. They had been shipped with a couple of fly pupae. The little guy had 2 dead flies in his jar, while the bigger one had a still-alive fly. As I set their containers side by side on my kitchen table, it was clear that the little guy was very interested in the fly in the other container, so I transferred the fly to him, and he caught it immediately.



Photos taken through the plastic container, so they're a little foggy looking.



Look at his pink eyes.



The bigger green one pops out to say hello.





A fat little bottom. No wonder he didn't want the fly.



Here's a view of the little guy's bum. It is hard to tell at this size, but I think they are different sexes, and I think this one looks female. Maybe.

What to you think, Nick?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A tangled web of butterfly information

A comment left on my YouTube video of the silkmoth emerging has led me on a trail to an extensive and informative site on butterflies and moths. Although the title is Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area Butterflies and Moths, it does naturally contain species that range far wider. There is also lots of information and photos of caterpillar-rearing, containers, enclosures, supplies, etc.

There is even a page with a link to a certain Diana gynandromorph that I read about once.....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pollen overload


It starts out innocently enough...



...and rapidly spirals out of control.


This is on a rose of sharon at the arboretum.

Two beetles

I found it amusing that these two identical little beetles had assumed the same positions on their respective (and neighboring) plant stems.



Butterfly & moth sightings


Yesterday at the arboretum, there was this one big flowering bush that had 2 (possibly 3) gaint swallowtails just going around and around it, stopping every few seconds for a sip of nectar. I hung around for the longest time trying to take pictures of them. This was my best shot. I may go back and try again, if they're still there.



Later, I followed this nice moth around for a bit, until I finally got a picture. Satisfied, I stepped from the shrubbery and a man who had been watching me asked, "Did you get it?" He had a camera with a huge lens, and here I was with my little point-n-shoot. Sometimes I wonder if "real" photographers feel their equipment and the resulting images are superior to stuff like mine. And sometimes, I wish I wasn't so daunted by how big, heavy and complicated "real cameras" look to be. But I'll probably always be a die-hard point-n-shooter. And that's OK with me.

Piles of milkweed bugs

At the arboretum yesterday:




















Okay, these last two aren't exactly in a pile, but they are definitely huddled together. What is it that makes milkweed bugs so snuggly with each other?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Deroplatys lobata: a parting shot

I'm still sorting through bunches of pictures from my trip and more. Here's one I took of my deroplatys just before I released her, about a month ago. I "goosed" her a little to get her to display.


After 8 months living in captivity, with no hope of finding a mate, her future was one of slow deterioration before my eyes. I have always hated that, and so I released her in my yard. I usually let my mantids go while they still have time to enjoy their freedom. I haven't seen her in a couple of weeks, so one way or the other, I figure she might be gone.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back from Northern California, again

I went back up to Somona County last week. I didn't see as many bugs as I did last time, perhaps because the weather was so warm and dry. Maybe I wasn't looking quite as hard as I did before. But I found a few that were blog-worthy.


Armstrong Redwood State Reserve was beautiful. Primeval. I was hoping I would see a banana slug...



But the path is all fenced in.



And they really don't want you going beyond the fence.



I did manage to find this millipede under a piece of rotting wood within arm's reach of the other side of the fence. (Actually, I reached over the fence to lift up the piece of wood.)







I also found this nifty yellow caterpillar there.



I found my banana slug the following day, along the coast. It was being eaten by a snake.



I thought this little spider was cute.




There were some beautiful blue butterflies on the buckwheat flowers along the coast. I managed to get one in semi-focus that showed off the blue.




This tarantula-hawk wasp was at a rest area on the way home. I guess it eats other things besides tarantulas, because it looked to be feeding on the flowers, maybe the nectar, I couldn't tell. Anyway, between the flowers waving in the breeze and the constantly-moving wasp, I was lucky to get this shot.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Communicating with a grasshopper

On a lazy summer afternoon, with a back yard of buzzing bugs as a soundtrack, a couple of people take some time to try to communicate with a grasshopper. In an entomological version of "Close Encounters", the woman wiggles two fingers and the grasshopper sways gently and wiggles his antennas in response. Well, that's what you're supposed to believe.


Click on the picture to go to their website and see a video of this encounter.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Where the bugs are, Part III


I found these bees sleeping in a group, on this sunflower in front of the Heritage House.



Wasps are everywhere, looking for bugs (grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, etc.) to feed their young. This one is checking out the evening primrose, which is also all over the arboretum. They might have some interesting things on them, if the wasps don't get to them first.



Along this path, under the crepe myrtle trees, there are lots of little bugs in the small plants.



A stink bug on a nastirtium leaf.



Green Lynx spider






Here's a little looper caterpillar.







The old standby: the ground around the Chinese Flame Tree.





Box Elder Bugs.




Other old standbys: The funnel web spiders. There are some at the edge of the succulents area, and you may see their sheet-like webs spread across lots of other plants too.



Each web has a little funnel-hole with a spider in it.

You might not see any big orb-weavers yet. It's still early in the season, but you might see some smaller ones starting to weave a web in the evening. Tell the kids to look out for them.

I'm sorry I didn't get around to taking more pictures this week. Some other things I saw were dragonflies hovering over the pond and lake, and also over orchard lawn. I also saw one of those big green fruit beetles, so you may see those as well.
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