Currently viewing the tag: "bug love"

what are these flying bugs?
Hi Bugman, you’ve got a great website! Can you tell me about the bugs that are in my yard by the thousands? They’re all over the Portland, OR area. They don’t seem to bite, but are terribly annoying. They’re about 3/4 inch long and when flying, a bright orange body is visible. Are they likely to leave soon?
Thanks for the info,

Hi Bev,
You have Western Box-elder Bugs, Boisea rubrolineata. It feeds on Box-elder, Ash and Maple. Adults and nymphs aggregate in huge numbers, and often get inside homes to hibernate. They are difficult to erradicate, and since you have mating activity, you are well assured of future generations.

With the website currently down and no questions to answer, we have been strolling through the canyon briskly every morning. We have been noticing several species of insects that we occasionally get letters regarding, and others that are just plain interesting. We decided to return with our digital camera and photograph some of the above. Here are some Harlequin Bugs, Murgantia histrionica. They are small stink bugs, about 1/4 inch long. They are variegated black, red, and white with a reddish or light colored + on the scutellum. These bugs are occasionally seen in the garden where they feed on cabbage, sweet alyssum and related plants of the family Brassicacaea, but in the canyon and vacant lots, they prefer wild mustard. According to Hogue: “Mating pairs are often present. The male illicits copulation by tapping the female’s antennae and body with his antennae.” Females lay several sets of 5-12 eggs that look like black and white striped barrels.

(06/26/2004) Copulating Harlequin Bugs will eventually lay eggs. The female places one or two rows of from usually 5-12 eggs neatly on twigs. The eggs look like black and white striped barrels. Here are some freshly layed eggs on anise.

Hi, Bugman.
Is it true that a male praying mantis must have his head bitten off by the female he is mating with, in order to ejaculate? If so, that would be quite a decision to make, it seems to me! For the male, that is. And is this uncommon in the insect world? What might be the reason for this to be the case with the praying mantis?
M. Mattison
Oslo, Norway
(the praying mantis is referred to as a "kneeler" in Norway)

Hi Mark,
While it is not necessary for the male preying mantis to be beheaded in order to consumate the mating ritual, the female mantis will occasionally bite off her mate’s head. Much like a chicken with its head cut off, the male mantis will continue to perform actions, in this case, continuing the mating procedure. The male mantis doesn’t really make a decision in this matter. He is a slave to his hormones. It is fair to call this behavior uncommon in the insect world, though many female spiders, including the black widow, also devour their mate, which gets to the main reason this occurs. The female requires a considerable amount of nutrition to produce strong eggs, and to survive to protect them as well. The sacrifice of the male of the species helps to ensure that a healthy future generation gets off to a good start. It is for the good of the species, not the survival of the individual. "Kneeler" is an interesting local name. I wonder what its origin is. Here are some photos I love. They are steps 4 and 5 in the mating of the Preying Mantis shot by Catherine Chalmers for her book Food Chain: Encounters Between Mates, Predators, and Prey published by Aperture.

Thanks a lot for your explanation. And what is the correct spelling? "Preying" or "praying?" Both of them make sense. As for the reason why they’re called "kneeles" in Norwegian, I will try to find out. Thanks again.
Mark Mattison

Both spellings are correct, depending upon the author. I prefer to spotlight the hunting versus the religious connotation.

I now believe that the Norwegian name "kneeler" is from the same reason we say "praying" mantis: you kneel when you pray. At least if you accept the "praying" spelling. At least it makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that

We recently spotted this Tiger Moth, The Painted Arachnis, Arachnis picta, laying eggs on the side of our house. Every night, the moths are attracted to the lights outside. Our Green Lynx Spider has been feasting on them on a regular basis, hence the corpse on the right.