From the daily archives: "Wednesday, July 13, 2016"

Subject: Beetle pictured near Amboseli, Kenya
Location: Amboseli, Kenya
July 13, 2016 7:32 am
Hi there,
I was recently in Kenya and captured a few pictures of an interesting bug but none of the people there knew the name of it, nor do I know what plant it was eating (a rather lovely purple flower)
It was captured in July 2016, so Kenyan winter.
Can you please help identify it for my picture collection.
Signature: Tane Piper

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Dear Tane,
This is one beautiful Blister Beetle in the family Meloidae and the colors on your image, the bold black and white beetle, the orange antennae and the ultraviolet purple blossom are stunning.  We quickly identified a similar looking Blister Beetle on the Kenya Natural History Guide that is identified as being in the genus
Mylabris.  The site states:  “Many blister beetles are so toxic to mammals that ingestion of a few may be enough to kill a horse. It happens occasionally when the beetles get wrapped up into a bale of hay, quite by accident. Birds somehow just know that a beetle with this pattern should never be eaten, and they leave them alone. There are many, many species of Mylabris distributed across Africa, Europe and Asia.”  Once we had a genus name, we identified the species on Beetles of Africa and confirmed the identification on iSpot.

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Thank you! Yes I thought it was a rather stunning beetle.
– Tane

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Blister Beetle: Mylabris oculata

Subject: Dragonfly Behavior
Location: Faribault County, Minnesota
July 13, 2016 12:57 pm
Greetings!
On June 21 I was walking my Rain Garden to see if any insects were taking advantage of the blooming plants when I noticed a “blue” Dragonfly on top a stick I was using to mark a plant I had moved. Seems most of the dragonflies I see perch atop sticks or posts or at the end of branches. I’ve likened that behavior to “sunning” as I’ve seen butterflies do. The dragonfly might fly around a bit, but usually returns to the same perch, perhaps in a slightly different position.
This particular Dragonfly on that particular day landed horizontally atop the stick, then slowly raised its entire abdomen to a near vertical position (see photo). After a moment or two it flew around and then came back to the same stick and repeated the behavior. Fascinating!
If I were to guess, I’d say it was a mating call, probably with pheromones to cast on the breeze and disperse with fluttering. Male or female, I’d guess male. But that last photo reveals a groove along the abdomen which I hear in butterflies indicates females. So I’m uncertain as to what I photographed; still fascinated, but also uncertain. I’m hoping you can set me straight.
Nature is absolutely amazing when one takes the time to observe! Not just glance, but actually look and observe.
Thanks so much!
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

Hi Again Wanda,
Based on this BugGuide image, we are quite confident this lovely blue Dragonfly with red eyes is a “tween” male Blue Dasher,
Pachydiplax longipennis.  According to BugGuide, as they begin to mature, “tween” males are described:  ” they mature the abdomen becomes blue except for yellow that remains on the sides of the first few abdominal segments and the black tip on the end of the abdomen. The eyes at this stage are still juvenile red/grey.”  Now regarding the posture you observed, we found this comment by Ron Hemberger on a BugGuide posting:  “When it’s hot, dragons can be seen in an obelisking posture, with rear end elevated and, that way, less area exposed to the sun. The ones I’ve seen do this – different species than yours – typically have a bit of curl to the body, so the thorax is almost level with the ground while the abdomen heads upwards.”

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

Well now, this goes to show ya what little I know. I never would have thought the “obelisking” of the dragonfly was for thermoregulation! And here I was being all “scientific” and romantic and thinking of baby dragonflies in the making. I can certainly and honestly say I learned something new today!
Thanks, y’all!
Wanda

Subject: Twelve spotted Skimmer?
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
July 12, 2016 10:10 pm
Saved this bug from the neighbor’s little dog who was trying to figure out if it was edible. Pics were taken mid-May in Mount Pleasant, SC approx. 3 mi. from the Atlantic shore. I think this is a female twelve spotted skimmer, but coloration of lateral line on abdomen (orange, not yellow) and thin size of the body makes me wonder. What do you think?
Signature: Wormkat

Dragonfly

Prince Baskettail

Dear Wormkat,
The only Dragonflies that we know of that have twelve spots on the wings are the Twelve Spotted Skimmer, which is pictured on BugGuide, and the Female Whitetail, which is also pictured on Bugguide, and though the wings on your individual looks similar to both, the body is quite different.  Perhaps one of our readers with more experience identifying Dragonflies will be able to assist in this identification.

Dragonfly

Prince Baskettail

Update:  July 14, 2016
We would like to send out a special thanks to Michael Davis, Cesar Crash and Susan B., all of whom commented and led us to the correct identification of this Prince Baskettail,
Epitheca princeps.  According to BugGuide:  “Flies constantly. Wing pattern resembles that of some skimmer, but narrow body shape is distinctive. Wings held in a slight dihedral (V) while flying.”

Thank you for the response.  I am an ecologist with a special focus on aquatic species and this one threw me for a loop… ( in my own back yard!)  Any help figuring out what this little guy is would be fantastic, I hate not knowing!!!  Thanks a million in advance and BUG ON!!!
Best Regards,
Steve Walker
Ecologist

Subject: Dragonflies
Location: Faribault County, Minnesota
July 13, 2016 12:42 pm
Greetings!
After a season away from my rain garden due to heart surgery (I received a “heart pump” and am on the transplant list), I finally returned to my garden this Spring 2016. I was so excited, just like a kid waiting for Christmas which, of course, means my plants weren’t blooming quickly enough and the insects weren’t returning soon enough.
Our native bees have slowly been awakening/returning, as have a few wasps and flies. The grasshoppers have hatched so they will be growing, and I have an abundant crop of Milkweed Bugs which does not thrill me. As I weed and come across their larvae I dispatch a few and return them to the dirt. Seems to be quite the year for Earwigs, too.
For butterflies I’ve seen an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, some Red Admirals, a Common Buckeye (a first for me), a Monarch, a beat up Great Spangled Fritillary (wing edges shredded) and several Sulphurs. I keep thinking they are all late, but we had an “early” Spring so my rhythm is off and I’m further along in the season than the insects.
I’m including three photos I took in early June of Dragonflies: two are differing angles of a “spotted body” spotted wing dragonfly, and the other is amber/honey colored. I do not know the varieties of dragonflies, though could probably tell a damselfly from a dragonfly. Can you further educate me?
Thanks so much!
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Female Whitetail

Female Whitetail

Dear Wanda,
We are sorry to hear about your health problems and we hope things turn out well.  It is nice to hear you are enjoying your rain garden.  The spotted Dragonfly is a female Whitetail,
Plathemis lydia, which we identified thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Females have a short, stout abdomen with several oblique dorsolateral white or pale yellow markings against a brown ground color; each wing has three black evenly-spaced blotches.”  We have several images of male Common Whitetails in our archives, but your image is the first female we have identified.  We will attempt to identify the other Dragonfly you submitted.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Wow, Daniel.
I actually submitted something y’all didn’t have in your archives! How cool is that?!
Glad I contributed to such an awesome, informative and educational endeavor you and your volunteers have going there.
As I see it, we all have health problems of some sort, whether we acknowledge them or not. I fully expect to be on the list for a donor heart for three years or more. So long as this heart pump (technical term is LVAD) keeps working, I’ll be okay. My goal following surgery for the pump was to get back to my gardening and photographing nature doing her thing in my little corner of this great big world. I’m only 53 so I have oodles of things I still want to do. No bucket list or grand plans to travel the world (I’d make a terrible traveler with my vertigo and motion sickness). Just simple things, like tending my rain garden, keeping a photo journal of the things I see here and at Mom’s (she has 24 birdfeeders and is a Certified Wildlife Habitat through NWF), create photo cards for Mom to send, that kind of thing. I’m also planning to make some educational photo albums for the Community Room here at the apartments so the residents can see photos of what I see in the garden and if I include some information about what the photo is depicting, they might learn a few things they did not already know. I just can’t keep the learning and education to myself!
I am beginning to think I’m a closet naturalist, except I don’t draw in a notebook, I use my camera instead. And then I share what I observe with others after reading and learning more!
Keep up the good buzzing, humming, and fluttering!
Blessings,
Wanda

Subject: Sand Wasp
Location: West Valley City, UT
July 13, 2016 8:15 am
It’s fairly easy to tell this is a Sand Wasp given the shelter and size. Finding out that they are not aggressive to humans AND they feed on flies means this little guy(gal) gets to stay right where he(she) is. July 12, 2016, West Valley City, UT.
Signature: Vic M.

Sand Wasp

Sand Wasp

Dear Vic,
Thanks for sending in your image of a Sand Wasp in the tribe Bembicini in her nest.  We don’t think we will be able to provide a species identification based on this image.  According to BugGuide:  “About three quarters of the species prey on Diptera, and it is believed that fly predation is ancestral in the group; the rest prey on Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Odonata, and/or Homoptera.”

Subject: Busy milkweeds
Location: Columbus, Ohio
July 12, 2016 1:04 pm
So the milkweeds seem to be the water cooler of the insect world. We have monarchs, Japanese beetles, tons of bees (honey and bumbles), and these red mating things! Their flowers are a pretty color and they really have a pleasant and strong scent. I’m rather surprised that these weren’t grown on purpose before the whole monarch decline. Any way, were enjoying the show and hope to get a caterpillar or two.
Signature: Amber

Mating Large Milkweed Bugs

Mating Large Milkweed Bugs

Dear Amber,
There is indeed quite a robust ecosystem surrounding milkweed, which is one of the reasons we created a Milkweed Meadow tag on our site recently.  Monarch Butterflies need milkweed as it is the only food consumed by the Monarch Caterpillars.  Milkweed Borers and Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars are other visitors you might expect in the future.  Your mating Large Milkweed Bugs are another species that depends upon milkweed.  Many pollinators like your Bumble Bees, numerous species of butterflies and many wasps including Tarantula Hawks (mostly in western states), while not dependent upon milkweed as a sole food, are attracted to the fragrant blooms that are laden with nectar.  We will attempt to identify your Bumble Bee species.  

Bumble Bees

Bumble Bees

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee