Now for some whatsthatbug.com business:
I’ve been able to at least guess at most of my critters, thanks to a copy of Hogue’s classic Insects of the LA Basin, but this one has me stumped (see whazzat.jpg, attached). It was on a native Wild Buckwheat in my Encino, CA front yard, in mid-July, a couple of years ago. To give you an idea of scale, the flower head shown is maybe an inch in diameter. What is it?
We turned to Eric Eaton for help with this one, and his response has generated a new page for us. Here is what Eric has to say: “Ok, the top one is a webspinner, probably a male, as I think in the common specises the females are wingless. Used to be the order Embioptera, now it is something else. Thanks for sharing the nice images. Eric” Here is what Audubon has to say about Webspinners: “Uncommon insects, Webspinners are represented by only 10 species in North America, restricted to the Gulf states and the West Coast. There are about 150 species known worldwide. These brownish or yellowish insects live in colonies inside the silken galleries they spin among mosses, or in cavities in the soil. They have slender, cylindrical bodies with threadlike antennae, chewing mouthparts, short stout legs, and 1 or 2 asymmetrical appendages called cerci at the tip of the abdomen. Only males have 4 downy, brownish wings. The fore wings are longer than the hind wings and well separated from them. Webspinners spin silken webs from glands on the tarsi of their fore legs. Females eat mostly decayed plant matter, but males are carnivorous. When disturbed, Webspinners run rapidly backward to their nests, or sometimes play dead. Females lay clusters of elongated, curved eggs in the silk-lined tunnels, which they carefully guard. Metamorphosis is simple: both males and females become sexually mature, and the males gain wings.”