Monday, September 29, 2008

Random larvae from the last few days


Corn earworm, maybe?


A few mantid shots

I've been seeing loads of mature mantids lately, mostly at the arboretum, but a few around my house, too. I don't know why I keep taking pictures of them. Sometimes even I feel like if I've seen one, I've seen them all. But all to soon they will be gone, so I still say "hello" to every one I see, and take their picture if I have a chance.

Here's a male S. Californica that came to my porch light.

This Iris oratoria nymph is well camoflauged. This species predominates at the arboretum right now, and the next few pictures are all Iris.

Also at the arboretum, S. limbata (I think) male and female encounter one another. They spent at least a couple hours checking each other out. By the next morning, the female had retreated under a leaf, but the male was still nearby. 2 days later, the male was still hanging around, but I couldn't see the female. I'm wondering if she was still there and I just couldn't see her, otherwise why would he still be there?

A pair of S. Californica mating in a clump of grass. The 2 males in the picture below were on a structure nearby, probably wishing it were them.

Meanwhile, back at my house, this fellow was not so lucky. I mean, he still got lucky, but lost his head in the process.

So often when I approach a mantid up close, it will turn its head and look right at me. Such was the case this time as well, and she gave me such a look, I had to caption it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

You can't see me!

I get my fair share of camera-shy bugs. Today was no exception. Usually I try to get nice full-body shots, or maybe a good close-up. But often, they see me coming, leaning closer with my camera, and they will scoot behind the nearest leaf or stem. I decided to go ahead and post these photos of bugs trying to hide from me.

When will they learn, you just can't hide from the Buglady.

Aphids, beware

Predators abound on the milkweed plant.

Voracious ladybug larvae.  I'm pretty sure these are convergent lady beetles.

This guy* is a size bigger now.  He can eat more aphids. (That's his old skin next to him that he just shed.)

Momma lacewing knew exactly what she was doing when she planted her egg-stalks on this leaf.

Underneath the leaf, aphids are unaware of the trouble to come.

* I don't know if it's really a "guy" I just use the male gender by default.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More stinkbugs

Caught in the act

I hardly ever see these butterflies standing still. But this one kept pausing for a just few seconds, laying eggs.


Baby bugs

Little baby stinkbugs, I think.

Huddling together,

but they must soon go their own separate ways.

Last one out is a rotten egg!


I've been having trouble managing my photos. Part of the problem is I have too many photos. Another part of the problem is that I have a hard time concentrationg for long enough to get things cropped, organized and uploaded. I have been going back and forth between Nikon software, Picasa, Photoshop and Flickr. It's just hard for me to figure out what I want to do, and which of the above listed products I want to use. My husband and my kids can sit for long hours in front of their computers. I just can't sit and look at all this stuff for more than 15 minutes or so at a time. And when I get up and go do something else for a while, it makes it harder to just pick up where I left off. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creosote Grasshoppers *UPDATED*

I let Michael borrow my camera last weekend when he went on a desert field trip for school. He brought me back a picture of some grasshoppers I've never seen before. I looked through 100 pages of BugGuide grasshoppers before deciding to call it a night. (they have over 200 pages of grasshoppers!) I'll update with an ID when I get one.

I now know these are Bootettix argentatus - Creosote Bush Grasshoppers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Meanwhile, back on the marsh fleabane...

(AKA: Pluchea odorata)

These plants are sporting a nice variety of insect life right now.

This little caterpillar has covered itself with little bits of dried flowers to help it blend in with its surroundings. According to my research, it is Synchlora, the adult of which is a small green geometrid moth.

A tiny California firefly. Sadly, this variety does not glow.

There are lots of little pollinators. If you look closely, you can see this one is being watched by a hungry mantis.

There he is.

There are assassins about, too. This one looks like it has been finding plenty to eat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weird and wonderful

I don't remember if I ever posted about this before, but earlier this year I discovered another buglady out there in Blogland. Bridgette calls herself (and her blog) Weirdbuglady, and I can well relate to the feeling of being weird sometimes for having such an interest in bugs and other critters. But she is also able to channel those interests into wonderful fabric creations that she makes and sells. I really want to order something, but I already have too many bug-themed doodads that I have packed away because I don't have anywhere to display them. So maybe I could order something to give to someone else as a gift. Hmm....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Successful Giant Swallowtail wing repair

Last year, I found this video about how to repair a butterfly wing. (on a live butterfly) This morning, I actually had a chance to put that lesson to use, and it worked!

I found this Giant Swallowtail on the grass. It had a chunk missing out of its left hind wing, and couldn't fly. (I know it's hard to see it in the picture.) First, I put it up in a bush, where it would be a little safer. Then, I watched the video to refresh my memory,

Did I ever mention that I have two containers of butterfly wings? Someone donated them to the arboretum, and I sort of inherited them. I never knew what I should do with them, except maybe use them in some kind of craft project, but a piece of one came in handy for me today.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the actual repair as I was doing it. I thought about it, but decided I needed to give my full attention to the butterfly. It was much more squirmy than the monarch in the video. There was no exact match among the stash of wings. I went with a small, dark one that seemed sturdy enough. (Some of the wings were brittle. I have no idea how old they are.)

I followed the instructions on the video, and in spite of his wiggling, I got the wing patched up. I took him outside, opened my hand, and up he went. Up, up, and away!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Evening mantids at the arboretum

It's so nice to be able to stroll through the arboretum in the evening. There's hardly anybody there, the heat of the day is starting to dissipate, and the sun is low, making for some illuminating views of the plants.

This desert plant, in a color scheme of dull green and creamy white, has had a young mantid living in it for the last several weeks.

His coloring matches the creamy stuff.

Then there are these weedy, stalky plants with pinkish flower-heads. The plants attract a wide variety of bugs, which also make them good for finding mantids. (Update, 9-15-08: I have now been informed that these plants are called Marsh-Fleabane Pluchea odorata.)

The other night, I found 2 sub-adult female iris oratoria, who had apparently also found eachother. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will be able to make out the pale blue-ish one, highlighted in a circle to the left, and a second, greener one to the right. They are both in threat display postures.

Here's the green one. (Fuzzy due to low light conditions)

The blue girl.

She says, "I'm this big ... you'd better not mess with me!"

I gave her a little "goose" to make her jump onto another branch, hopefully far enough away from her rival.

Have I ever mentioned how bummed I am sometimes when I discover that one of my favorite bug-finding shrubs has been ravaged by well-meaning garden staffers? As I was inspecting this heavily pruned bush, I saw another mantis.

This one was an adult female Stagmomantis Californicus, the first I've seen at the arboretum in quite a while. Whether she had been dwelling in the previously leafy branches or had just arrived to blend in with the stubby sticks, I can't be sure.
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