Category Archives: Insects
I am tired down to the bones from all this travel and there is still work to do, but today I just played with rocks in the garden and took pictures of caterpillars.
Some day soon I hope to be back on my normal work schedule.
Heading out tomorrow at the crack of godawful, to visit my parents, do a gallery opening, all that good stuff. I am already tired, so this may be the Death March of the Wombat. We’ll see.
I shall leave you with a katydid.
Seriously, check out that face.
Also, I got a barred owl in the backyard last night, and that is just cool beyond all reason. And a life bird. At the moment, I am having enormous fun just finding new species in my yard, but perhaps the wilds of Upper Michigan will have some late migrants for me. Or some interesting ducks.
And then at least I get to be home for a little while, until it’s time to go sign copies of Digger. And then I’m not traveling again for anything less than Disneyworld or an act of God until May.
Dude! Dude! Check this guy out!
Happened to be looking in exactly the right spot while building my swale and went “Wait a minute, that’s not a normal leaf…”
This is Euclea delphinii. He will turn into a brown moth with big green spots on his wings.
While trying to learn more about him, I ran smack into the wall of our vast ignorance. He probably eats oak. Probably. Maybe some other stuff. Nobody’s sure. And I literally cannot tell you if they are as common as dirt or desperately endangered, because their conservation status has never been evaluated. (My guess is that they are reasonably common because—well, obviously, I’m seeing one! And there are plenty of sightings on the various websites about bugs.)
We do know that they sting, and if you put your hand on one, you will need to use scotch tape to extract the spines from your skin. And if you’re very unlucky, you will have an allergic reaction and need to head to the hospital or at least load up on Benadryl.
Still, this kinda thing honestly freaks me out a little. That there are things so common that they are in my garden—and yet, we know almost nothing about them. Do they need to be protected? Can they live in cities? How far do they travel? What all do they eat?
Well, a new one for the yardlist, anyhow. So that’s something.
Unless my Bug-Guide-fu fails me, this is Apatelodes torrefacta. He will turn into a really freaky looking moth, the Spotted Apatelodes moth (seriously, look that thing up! They’re freaky!)
He’s a new one for the yard list, and a weirdly handsome little devil.
So my hickory tree—the big one outside my window—is being systematically defoliated by a pack of walnut caterpillars. They are large and look stingy, with their long white hairs, they congregate in groups, and they are quite large. Even a relentless friend of wildlife such as myself will admit to bein’ a little squicked out. Given their size and how actively they move, it’s kind of like having a group of boneless, elongated mice crawling along the tree.
They are also going to be eaten by more or less everything, so that’s okay.
In happier news, new species keep on appearing in the garden—I’ve added the Rosy Maple Moth, Hoary Skipper (very similar to the far more common Silver-Spotted Skipper) and check out what volunteered in the pasture area up front! (Some day I will hire somebody to mow an edge around it so it looks more intentional and less like Two People Who Don’t Give A Shit Live Here,* but honestly, the neighbor on that side is a beekeeper AND has rusted trucks in his yard, so frankly, he doesn’t care. And the soggy area down at the bottom is getting increasingly interesting. I put in the Joe Pye Weed and the Swamp Sunflower, but this stuff showed up all on its own.)
It’s a biennial and will hopefully seed enough to return in a year or two, as I am perfectly delighted to have it in residence.
The starry rosinweed continues to host All The Butterflies All The Time.
And I found this little guy on the dwarf ironweed. He looked…pointy. If anybody knows what he is, give a yell!
*Not that this isn’t true.
A handsome member of the scarab family, this rather large beetle showed up on the side of my garage. They eat wild and domestic grapes and Virginia creeper, although the damage they cause is so minor that most authorities suggest it’s not worth bothering controlling them. As we have no domestic grapes here, I’ve got no reason to worry about them.
The larvae eat rotting hardwood underground, and are considered somewhat beneficial as a result, since they’re breaking down diseased stumps and dead tree roots and whatnot. All in all, this bug is neither particularly good nor particularly bad, but they are certainly quite pretty as beetles go. (They also, for unknown reasons, sometimes fill Japanese beetles with unspeakable lust. Japanese beetles are much smaller but will attempt to mate with what must appear to them to be a GIGANTIC FEMALE SEX-GODDESS. There is no word on how the grapevine beetle feels about this, but this leads to some people thinking these are, in fact, giant Japanese beetles and killing them as a result, which is about as sad a case of victim blaming as one can imagine in the insect world.)
One word of caution—this beetle is very docile but has very sharp feet. If you pick one up and handle it, you may get stabbed, a circumstance probably as upsetting to the poor beetle as to you.