Sunday, November 28, 2010


I have never really paid too much attention to who reads this blog. Way back when I first started, I put a blog counter on it, and quickly realized hardly anybody was reading it! Somehow, I think when Old Blogger changed to New Blogger a few years ago, I lost the counter. I figured I didn't really need it.

Recently, Blogger has put stats right into the workings of their blogs. So of course, I am sneaking a peek every so often just to see who else is looking. And I'm still not breaking any records. But I have noticed something interesting:

My Saturday Night Fever Bug post has been wildly popular (relatively speaking).

The next most popular post, which has been on the blog since July 2009, has half as many. The #3 post (not far behind #2, and is related to it) is almost 5 1/2 years old!

So what is it about the Saturday Night Fever Bug that makes it so popular? I'm guessing it has a lot less to do with my blog and a lot more to do with the movie. And Google. And people Googling the movie, who must be finding my bug by accident. And out of all those hundreds of chance encounters, only my loyal readers left any comments.

That's OK. Those are the important ones anyway. You guys know, this is an esoteric blog.

Cold weather setting in...

The bugs are still hanging on.

The hemizonia plants, on which I found so many bugs this past summer and fall, are all but dead. But there are still bugs to be found among its brown branches.

Late season gray bird nymph
A small brown gray bird nymph.

Late season gray bird nymph
And a green one.

Dead grasshopper in the hemizonia
This was an adult male gray bird.

leafless bladderpod plant
The bladderpod plant has lost all of its leaves and looks dead. I'm pretty sure it's just dormant.

Harlequin bugs on bladderpod
Harlequin bugs are clustered along the dry brown stems.

Buncha bugs
There were a great many red shouldered bugs on the woodland floor.

Similar, but different bugs
Here are a box elder bug, right, and a red shouldered bug for comparison. Even though there are more of the red shouldered bugs, I have been referring to them collectively as box elders. But I have been trying to be more accurate in my identification, if not at the arboretum (where most visitors would not know or care whether they're box elders or red shoulders) then, at least here on my blog.

In spite of the chilly day, this little caterpillar was busy eating this sunny orange flower. And there was a patch of milkweed down at the south end of the arboretum that had lots of monarch caterpillars, but when I ventured down there, I got busy showing them to a father and his two little girls, and I ended up forgetting to take pictures of the caterpillars.

You can see all my bug pictures from today, including more red shouldered bugs, on this Flickr set.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mantis Parable

Several years ago, when I first heard about this little animated movie, I had to wait until it was available on DVD, and then I ordered one. I watched it a few times, enjoyed it, put the DVD away somewhere, and more or less forgot about it.

Now I see it's on YouTube. Time to watch it again, and share. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rearing out another caterpillar

I am rearing a couple of these green caterpillars to see what they will turn into. I'm guessing they are geometer moths.


bush on which caterpillars were found
This is the plant I found them on at the arboretum.

purple flowers
It has pretty lavender flowers...

trumpet shaped flowers
...that hang down like trumpets.

The leaves are fairly large, soft, sticky, and the whole plant kind of stinks. But the caterpillars sure like it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A fleeting glimpse of a mystery moth

unknown moth(?)
Check out this porch moth. I thought it was a butterfly at first, because the wings were resting in the upright position, but the antennas were laying down, and there was a tiny bit of fringe visible on the edge of the wings. Plus, I couldn't find a butterfly that looks like this.

unknown moth(?)
This was the last shot I got before it flew away.

Stripe-eyed fly

Stripey fly eyes
Eristalinus taeniops
Another bee-mimic hover fly. Looks like I caught her in mid-salute. She was polishing those wild eyeballs!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Porch spider as seen from below

front porch spider
The spiders usually make their home in and around the lamp. This one has moved right over the door itself.
over the doorway

spider as seen from below
Makes for a good opportunity to see undercarriage. It may look like he's ready to drop onto my camera (or my face) at any moment, but he's secure in a sheet of silk up there.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Giant swallowtail chrysalis

Giant Swallowtail caterpillar
Here's my full-size swallowtail caterpillar next to my hand for comparison. He had stopped eating, and was looking for a place to pupate.

getting ready...
Safely back in the enclosure, he chose a spot and anchored himself. Can you see his safety belt?

Giant Swallowtail chrysalis
And now, we wait. Will the butterfly emerge next week, or wait until spring? I have no idea.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Investigating a scale infestation

I got an email the other day from Don, one of the senior nature guides at the arboretum (and my nature guide mentor, actually), in which he had forwarded a photo of a bug for me to try to identify. It was from a lady in nearby Buena Park, who had a bunch of "white worms" on her mulberry tree.
Scale insects
This is the photo she sent. Looks yucky, huh? Also, doesn't look like worms. Well, actually, it sort of does, but what kind of worms could be all over the branches like that? I called the lady, and she couldn't really describe them any better than her photo, but she was happy to have me come out and look at them. Don agreed to go with me, and we were like real Bug Detectives out on a case!

Once we were able to see them in person, it was clear that they were scale insects, but we didn't know exactly what kind.
Scale insects
In this photo you can see the oval shaped scale insects. The white stuff, which in the first photo looked like the white worms, are egg cases. If you look carefully, you can see some baby scale insects, tiny ovals called "crawlers", so named because they are much more mobile than the adults. I'm actually not sure if the larger, smoother ovals are the same species as the ones with the egg cases. Even our curator, Chris, thought there might be 2 different kinds of scale when he looked at it.

Scale insects
In this photo, the scale insects are on the backside of a leaf, and there are fewer of them, so it's a little easier to make out the individuals. Also, there were lots of ants all over these guys, as they collect the honeydew that the scales secrete.

When I got home, I googled white/scale/mulberry/pest, and the closest match I can find is the cottony camellia scale, Pulvinaria floccifera . There are pages about it here and here. The timing seems off, because they make their egg cases in May, but we've had such weird weather this year, who knows?

Chris says that horticultural oil is the best treatment for these scale insects.
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