Tuesday, April 29, 2008

White lined sphinx video

Just a little clip I found on YouTube showing a white lined sphinx moth flying and feeding. You can see why it's called a Hummingbird Moth.

It's just getting dark here now, and I figured since we had so many moths last night, I might see some on our honeysuckle plants. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, I don't think I could take a video in the fast fading light. Thank goodness for YouTube.

Altered photos

Some porch light visitors, fancied up a little in Photoshop

Porch record for sphinx moths

Remember the other week, when I saw 3 sphinx moths on my porch, and thought it was special?
Well, Michael came home from Jessi's house late last night after I was already in bed, and he had to wake me up to ask, "Guess how many sphinx moths are on the porch?!"

"Three?" I guessed, supposing history might be repeating itself.

"Six!" he corrected.

I think I started to go back to sleep, but then he came back to my bedroom door and said, "Aren't you going to come and see them?"

Well, Michael doesn't often become enthused about bug stuff, so I hauled myself out of bed and let him point out all the moths. Squinting beneath the porch light, we counted not six, but seven. This was apparently interesting enough for even the reclusive Brice to come and have a look. It was nice. The boys were laughing and cussing good naturedly as the big moths flew around our heads, and I found a black widow spider on our front door and slapped it with a nearby garden clog.

Eventually we went back inside, and I went back to bed. Jerry managed to sleep through the whole thing.

I didn't take pictures at the time, because the moths were flying around quite a bit, and there's no way I could have gotten all 7 in one shot, but here's one representative who was still on the porch this morning.

New sightings on the porch

The blistering hot weather we had over the weekend seemed to bring out lots of bugs in the evening. I saw a couple of new things that were attracted to the porch light.

This bright little banded cucumber never stopped moving, but I got one good shot.

I really liked this snazzy little bug. I don't remember seeing one like it before. After much searching on BugGuide, I think it's Closterocoris amoenus.

This bug looks similar, but not quite as distinctly patterned as the one above. I wonder if it might be the opposite sex of the first one, or maybe there is some variation within the species.

And here, this afternoon, I saw another one on one of my mini-roses.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A few last odds and ends

from our trip to Joshua Tree

A small moth on the window ledge of the Adobe

Nice bee shot

Just another day at the office for the ants. I was hoping with all the ants, I'd see a horned lizard or 2. No such luck.

Sweet little dove nest in a palm tree

Milkweed bugs

OK, I think that's all the photos of bugs and critters from our trip to Joshua Tree.

Desert mysteries

There were a couple of things I couldn't identify. Well, I guess I should say, I haven't really tried to identify them yet. But at this point, I really don't know what they are.

At the Joshua Tree visitor center, on some plants at the beginning of a little trail near the building, there were lots of these fluffy things. Galls? Egg cases? My brain wanted them to be praying mantis egg cases, but there were too many of them all over the plants, and the sizes too varied, from pea-sized to walnut-sized.

Some of them had what appeared to be exoskeletons of tiny insects. Could they have been a parasitic wasp of some kind?

Then there were these mysterious floating eggs in the pond at Barker Dam.

I fished them out for a closer look, but it didn't help. It looks like each enlongated yellow egg has a bunch of tiny round eggs inside. All were suspended in a glear gelatinous fluid, similar to frog eggs.

So I guess I should try to find out what these are sometime.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ET's eat cheeseweed?

Yes, apparently they do.

I found out by accident that my aged ET stickbug likes cheeseweed, a common weed around these parts. I wish I would have found this out sooner. The weeds are past their prime now, and withering in the heat. (90's today)

More mantids hatching

It might be a little hard to figure out this picture, so I'll explain. This is the egg case I collected from this post. The green stuff is beeswax that I used to attach it to the branch of a plant in my yard. You can see a white cluster of natal skins hanging just to the right of center. This was not a complete hatch-out, but a group. And you can just make out part of the group under the horizontal leaf near the bottom of the picture.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it, but my favorite is really the second picture...

This is the first and last time these babies will be together. They appear to be peering out at the world, (and me) from under the safety of the leaf, maybe deciding amongst themselves who will go first, and what they might do.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Desert bees and wasps

I rescued this wasp out of the pool, only to discover several more floating, and innumerable dead ones on the bottom. Needless to say, we decided not to go in the pool.

We saw some burrowing wasps. Similar coloring to the pool wasps, but bigger, different.

dig dig dig dig dig....

A small bee

A smiling pollinator. (That's a smile, right?)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This snail has been hanging out on my back patio wall. Not sure for how long, but there are cobwebs involved, so it's been awhile. Anyway, this morning, the light hit it just right. It was glowing.

More from the desert

Tonight, it's the butterflies, moths and caterpillars from our trip. The whole set is here on Flickr.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lizards from our desert trip

Still struggling (or is it straggling?) with posting pictures from Joshua Tree. Here are the lizards we saw. The Flickr set is here. (Flickr seems easier than Blogger when I'm tired.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mantis Hatch

You can see the rest of the pictures on Flickr.
I also realized that I took pictures of mantids hatching a couple of years ago.

BREAKING NEWS: Mantids Hatching Now

One of my egg cases is hatching. I have been taking pictures, attempting to take video, and generally avoiding the household chores I didn't do yesterday.

Photos will be posted later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mantis Monday for 4-21-08

Quick, while it's still Monday..

Julie sent me this whimsical bead and wire mantis. The wires make it bendable, while the beads make it sparkle in the light.

I have been keeping it on my computer, but it's too messy to take a picture there, so I posed him outside, in nature.

Thanks, Julie

Aphids and syrphid flies

The most predominant insect on our recent desert trip was syrphid flies.

Many of the plants had aphids, and that's what attracted the flies.

Some aphids

For all the zillions of flies I saw, I didn't see too many of the aphid-eating larvae, and the ones I did see didn't sit very still to have their pictures taken.

Desert isopod

This guy was creeping across the bathroom floor in our desert house. First, I put him in a yellow plastic bowl and photographed him inside it.

Then I put him outside.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Not one...not two....

...but three white lined sphinx moths on my front porch the other day. (In order to avoid getting further behind in my blogging, the desert posts will be interspersed with some recent local posts. I'm trying to post a little bit every day until I get caught up.)

This one actually went a little way up into the lamp. It looks like he's asking for help to get out of there, but he figured it out without too much trouble on his own. The yellowish-rust-colored specks all over are the poop of many moths that have passed this way. I guess I should clean my lamp.

Desert walking stick

I found this great stick insect on the first night of our desert trip last week. I was using the flashlight to try to look out for spiders on the wall, and I found her ambling between the wall and a little stand that held golf balls for putting. She was about 3 inches, not including her outstretched front legs.

As with the mantid, I put her in a jar to save for the next day so I could take her picture.


If this doesn't look like a stick, nothing does!

After taking the pictures, I released her here in this plant. This was about 8 or 10 feet from where I found her, and the woody stems had the same exact coloration as her body. She also left me with a little souvenir. A single egg, which I brought home. I still need to learn what kind of stick insect she was, and when I might expect the egg to hatch.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some beetles from last week

I still have lots of catching up to do. Just imagine the bottle this time, OK?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More desert mantids

I wanted to post the gravel-hoppers first, so I could explain that I found this tiny desert mantid nymph while I was struggling to take a picture of one of those pesky little grasshoppers.

Can you see him here, in the lower left of the photo?

He was tiny, about the size of a typical hatchling mantid, and fast.

This is another shot of the flying mantid I caught at the window on our first night in the desert. I saved him until the next day so I could photograph him in better light. He was also very fast. I could barely get him to hold still. I think he is the adult form of the tiny nymph. I'm not sure what kind it is. It's not a minor ground mantid, Litaneutria minor, because they have pointy eyes and this one doesn't. It might be some other ground mantid species. I showed this picture to a park ranger, but she was pretty clueless. She did say that many (or was it most) of the desert insect species are "undocumented."


Color variations within a given grasshopper species is something I have always liked. On our recent trip to the desert, I saw lots of these little grasshoppers in the gravel, so I took pictures of as many as I could.

I also decided to try this new application called Pictobrowser. It's connected to my Flickr page.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The dreaded bottle

I'm getting waayyy behind in my posting. Especially since I took so many bug pictures in the desert last week. So I'm dragging out the dreaded Blog Catchup bottle, but I'm just going to give it a little squeeze tonight. That's all I have the energy for.

The following pictures are of bugs that were attracted to the light in the front window of the little house we rented in Joshua Tree. I even hung a white sheet in the window in the hope of attracting them. We got a number of cool bugs the first night.

This big spider was coming after all the moths that were fluttering in the window.

Here he is on the corner of the windowsill. He's practically all legs.

Here you get an idea of how I hung up the sheet in the window. There were lots more moths and bugs than this, but they were all moving around.

A nice back-lit moth shot.

I don't think this is necessarily the same moth, but a similar one, with better lighting.

An ant lion, frantic to get through the glass.

Ant lion resting (and pooping, apparently)

This small mantis was among the window-flutterers. Fully grown and winged, but not much over an inch long.

The night also brought out a wandering stick insect of respectable size. (photos to come).

Unfortunately, the rest of our stay was very windy, and no bugs visited the light in the window on the remaining 2 nights. But I managed to take some daytime shots of other bugs I found. I'll try to get them up soon.
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