Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A bad shed

My praying mantis emerged mangled from her final moult. One back leg was way bent. The front legs somehow never made it all the way out of the old skin, and they were hopelessly twisted. It was very sad. I euthanized her in the freezer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grasshoppers showing some color variation

OK, he doesn't match his surroundings too well. He must have gotten his "tan" somewhere else.

Harlequin bugs in interesting positions

Umber skipper

On top of the onion flowers

A busy little bee

The assassin waits.

Oh, I'm sorry. Are you expecting a picture of the assassin bug eating the bee? Didn't happen. The silly assassin kept scooting around the backside of the flower cluster, trying to hide from me!

Assorted bees and wasps


I just can't resist these halictid bees. They're so shiny and green.


This super-tiny moth had iridescent orange wings, and at first I thought it was a tiny wasp. I have tentatively identified it as species Chrysoesthia drurella - Goosefoot Leafminer Moth - Hodges#1717, according to BugGuide.

Happy face dragonfly

What the camera sees

What my brain sees (hee hee!)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Katydid nymph + leaf = perfect match

Here's where the insect-finder's eye and heart come together and sing.

The katydid has replicated not only the color of the leaves, but also the little bits of brown around the edges.


Thy neighbor's bugs

OK, I'm not exactly coveting my neighbor's bugs, but I have been admiring this group of  leaf-footed bugs, Leptoglossus clypealus, living on my neighbor's pomegranate tree.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Snail acrobatics

I saw this snail climbing around on top of my Euphorbia horrida.

Of course, snails can climb over broken glass and even razor blades without hurting themselves, so what's a few thorns? Except when he got far enough up on that dead leaf, his weight pushed the leaf, with him on it, over the edge and onto the ground. Just a few inches down. No harm done.

This pale little snail nearby was showing off his cactus-scaling talents. He went right up to the top of the flower bud.


OK, very nice. But I don't want you to eat my cactus flowers. Back into the ivy you go!

Upside-down nectar sipper,

Cute little fiery skipper.

The insect-finder's eye (part 2)

People sometimes ask me how I spot all these bugs. I tell them I've had over 40 years of practice. I know where to look, and what to look for, and even when I don't, my eye can "read" bugs among the leaves, much as (I imagine) a skilled editor or proofreader spots bad grammar and spelling mistakes in a piece of text.

For example, my eyes were drawn to the bright green of this green lynx spider, which stood out from the duller green coastal sage scrub.

But sometimes, my eyes play tricks on me. My brain is always looking for bugs, so sometimes I see them when they're not really there. I'll get a little rush of excitement, and then realize it's just a twig, or a dried leaf or some other non-bug thing.

False alarm: This dead twisted peach leaf made my heart quicken for a second.

Oh yeah, the first post about my insect-finder's eye was here.

Tacky tachnid fly

Another inside job

A little bee inside a lily, that is.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mantis Monday for 7-14-08

Wil Wheaton likes mantids.

An inconsequential factiod I just found out while wasting time online. But it still tickles me to find that other people like them, too. I mean, besides "bug people". "Regular people". Even, apparently, famous people. Cool.

A slightly alarming number of these little beetles

When I first saw a couple of these tiny beetles on my front porch, I thought they were cute. Then I realized there was a whole bunch of them. It looked like they were emerging from behind the mailbox, but I couldn't be sure. There were also a bunch of them on the ground. Most of those were dying, because I have just recently sprayed for ants all around the perimeter of the porch.

The ones still on the wall were OK.

I brought one in the house to try to get a better picture of it. The beetles were about the size of a grain of sushi rice.

My concern is that these are some kind of wood-boring beetle that have emerged from somewhere on my porch. I looked around, but didn't see any little beetle sized holes. (or any other size holes) I also swept away all the dead ones on the ground, and haven't seen any new ones since then, so they remain a mystery.

In case you were wondering....

Yes, I do have a praying mantis that I'm raising this summer. Nothing exotic this time. I just kept the first little nymph I found in my yard back in April. She's almost grown now. I figured it was time to take her picture.

Snail confusion

The snails around my house and yard seem unusually active for this time of year. This one, clinging to my patio wall, was awake in the heat of the day, looking sort of confused. Maybe the humidity had something to do with it.

I misted him lightly with water, and he retreated somewhat, but didn't go all the way into his shell. Later in the evening we had an unusual summer rainstorm that woke him up again, and this time he slithered down from the wall and off to his next adventure.

Little spiders

This bristly little guy was on my front door. It kind of looks like he's checking out that yucky-looking brown thing, but I think it was just "there".

This one looked interesting. It looks big in this close-up shot.

But it was really pretty small. See it there?

Evening sowbug activities

Last week at the arboretum, the cool of evening brought out bunches of sowbugs (pill-bugs, roly-polys, whatever you call them, they're isopods.) Anyway, they were all over the flowers, often feasting family-style in the center.

I came upon this pair at the foot of a garden bench. I've never seen them in this position before.
I don't think they're mating. Maybe this is how they "spoon".

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fruit fly species

Checking and comparing on BugGuide, I think this is Neotephritis finalis, or something similar. It's a challenge to take clear pictures of such tiny insects, especially around dusk, with a hand-held point-and-shoot camera. But I keep trying. Thank goodness for digital photography.

Out of the foam

The other evening, my arboretum wanderings led me to a bush where some spittlebugs had climbed from their spittle homes to make their final moults. The series is made from 2 bugs, but together it made a good sequence until I ran out of light and got tired of squatting beside the plant.

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