Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Western lynx spider

One day last week, I was clipping branches from my Indian Hawthorn plant, and on one piece I noticed a little brown spider bravely guarding her egg case (that white stuff she's on).

I didn't want to throw her away with the clippings, so I put her little branch back on the plant. Just sort of stuck it in there. There are enough other branches to hold it in place. And she's still there.
The western lynx spider has a rather similar body shape (and hairy legs!) to the Green Lynx, but it's brown, and much smaller.

Ding Dong, Doorbell Moth!

Just a tiny little geometer moth, barely bigger than my fingernail. I like his wing-fringes. You can see them better if you click the photo.

Caterpillar troubles

Yesterday morning, when I checked on my zale caterpillar, I couldn't find it anywhere in the container. After taking out all the plants, and searching along every leaf and stem, I found it inside the lid, hiding behind the screening. It ended up staying there all day. Then, last night it came back to the leaves, and I saw it eating.

It was clinging to a little branch this morning, resting, but when I came home from the day's activities, I was bummed to see that the caterpillar had been parasitized. Those white things are the cocoons of tiny parasitic wasps that had been developing and feeding inside the body of the caterpillar, and today, they have emerged to pupate.

Another view

I picked up the little bundle of twigs and leaves that the caterpillar was on, and carried it out into the sunny yard to take the pictures. I could see that the caterpillar was still alive, still moving.

I soon realized that the wasp cocoons were not attached to the caterpillar. Some of these wasp species remain attached to the host, but this particular species apparently emerges fully, right through the skin of the caterpillar, and attaches to adjacent surfaces. After a few moments, as I was taking pictures and turning the twig bundle this way and that, the caterpillar began to crawl away from the cocoons.

I counted about 40 of them.

So here's the caterpillar, post parasite, still alive, for now. It was actually quite squirmy for a few minutes, until it settled down again. It seems to be resting. I have no idea if it will survive. I always thought the emergence of the parasites meant the death of the caterpillar. But you also have to figure that the wasp larvae steer clear of any vital organs, or their host would die before they have a chance to mature. Maybe there are enough of the caterpillar's innards left for it to survive. We'll have to wait and see....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Painting around this year's finches

Jerry is painting part of the trim on our patio cover.

He got dangerously close to the little nest box that I put up, which now has 4 baby finches in it. We had some tense moments, but he was only painting near them, not right where the box is.

But while he had the ladder up, I couldn't resist to take a peek in there.

Porch light spiderlings

Attack of the destroyers

This mess is the by-product of a rampant mealybug infestation that is hitting the araucaria trees hard at the arboretum right now. They are losing lots of needles and branches over this.

See all the little white things all over this tree? You can click the picture to see them better. They are all juvenile Mealybug Destroyers, (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri), a beneficial insect that eats the mealybugs. Recently, they have been all over the trees in great numbers. I'm not sure if they're coming or going. They are of a size that they might be ready to pupate soon.

Their bodies are covered with white waxy secretions that resemble their mealybug prey. I couldn't find any actual mealybugs, just the mess all over the branches and stuff.

Here's a profile of a young destroyer on a pine needle. You can see his little legs.

There were also some adult mealybug destroyers, although nowhere close to the number of juveniles. This little beetle is a cousin of the lady bug family.
Pardon my fat pink finger :P

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Zale caterpillar?

Here's another caterpillar that is new to me. I found it on a retaining wall beneath an oak tree in my neighborhood. My preliminary research says it might be a Zale, which I've actually never heard of. I love finding new bugs! I'll try to keep it till it pupates, and see what the moth looks like.

What will this turn into?

This buddleia plant at the arboretum has some kind of larvae that "glues together" the new young leaves on the end of the plant stems, and lives inside there, eating the leaves as it hides.

I pulled a few leaves apart and this is what's inside. A small and very squirmy larva. I brought some home, still glued inside their little homes. I am waiting to see what they will turn into. It's been over a week, and I'm not even sure if they're still alive in there.

Unknown moth

Saw this on a wall at the arboretum last week. A good sized owlet moth. I made a half-hearted attemp to identify it on BugGuide, but there's about a zillion different owlet moths. I will post this picture there and update if somebody recognizes it.

Laying down flat

I have seen several young S. californica mantids in my Indian Hawthorn bush. They are all still brown. They can often be seen resting, holding themselves flat against the leaves in the early morning.

The best size of spider

The spiders in my yard are a good size right now: Big enough to appreciate their color and form. Big enough to take a picture of (hopefully). Still too small to span their webs between the garage and the gate, and hit me in the face when I go out at night to take out the trash.

Tails up!

I have a succulent plant blooming in my front yard, and it's attracting these little bees, which I think are Megachile species, a leaf-cutter bee.

They are very fast-moving, and camera shy as well, but I was able to capture this one with its abdomen raised. I'm not sure why they do that, but a bit of googling tells me that these bees don't collect pollen in "baskets" on the hind legs the way honeybees do, but some of them collect pollen on the underside of their abdomen. This one apparently hasn't collected anything yet though.

Freshly shed

This female Phaneroptera nana katydid nymph is resting beside her old skin. I love the way she has positioned herself to match the pose of the skin. I have never seen that before. It's like "me and my shadow".

You can't see me

So quit looking at me!

Broad-winged katydid nymph at the arboretum recently

Nobody can be uncheered by a ladybug.

There's just something about that bright little circle of shiny red against a green leaf....

Friday, June 25, 2010

iridescent wings

Not as focused as I would have liked, but it was the best of the bunch for this little syrphid fly. At least you can see the colors in his wings.
I've been in a terrible funk lately. If it wasn't for the distraction of running summer camp, I would have just been a puddle all week. Now camp is over and I need to pull myself up by my sandal-straps and get on with life. I have a small stockpile of bug pictures, and at least I finally got them organized tonight, but now it's getting late, so I'll get them on here tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

2 cute beetles

This first one is a casebearer beetle of the genus Cryptocephalus. Found on a rose bush.

I posted pictures of a similar beetle here. Possibly a different species of the same genus.

I found 3 of these little guys on the wall outside my garage this morning.

It didn't take me long to ID it as a Fuller Rose Beetle, Pantomorus cervinus.
BugGuide also lists its range as "cosmopolitan", which I guess means it's as common as dirt.

In any case, I just think it's cute. It almost looks like a tiny hamster to me. Well, sort of.
I'm not sure if the common name is an indication of this beetle's diet, but there is a row of rosebushes in my neighbor's yard, very close to my garage.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Li'l hopper

This little cutie was in my side yard. I don't recall seeing one like it before, so I looked it up, and I think it's Colladonus reductus.
If anybody cares :P
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