Insects

(Zone 5a)

There is no place for bugs in a forum except for identification and pest control :(, so I thought a thread here might work.

My interest began with the birds. When I began to pay more attention to them, I noticed the smaller things. I hardly kill native bugs any more, except flies in the house and I'll slap at mosquitoes. Ticks get dealt with. I find benefit to most of them in one way or another, if for anything at least food for the birds. :)

I mentioned in another thread here that my children think my interest in bugs is crazy. Yet, they now want to know the name of those they never saw before. A couple of months ago, the younger ones found an ant in the house. Overhearing their discussion of what to do with it, I had to laugh. They talked about taking it outside, but one said the ant would not be able to find its way back home. Yeah, it's kind of ridiculous, it's just an ant. But it is showing they are beginning to care about even the smallest things of nature.

Here is an insect from this year. A native to US ladybug, specifically a Pink-spotted. I have never seen so many before here. And lately they are mated pairs. I do not know why the increase. Maybe because of our native plantings, weather conditions... ??? But I am thrilled to have all these aphid-eaters around.

Anyone else have any insect photos or stories to share?

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Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have also developed an interest in insects.
It started as an interest in organic gardening and natural pest control (fight bad bugs with good bugs). Then my daughter went through a faze where she wanted a butterfly garden - or more specifically a caterpillar garden (she actually preferred the caterpillars to the adults). Plus I was landscaping for birds, and most of the migratory birds are insects eaters - and grasses & their insects are more-or-less the bottom of the food chain for everything else in the prairie ecosystem. Then I got fascinated because it is a more complex type of gardening and landscaping, I am way beyond - and bored with - the basics.

We had a huge hatch of Ladybugs arrive all at once a few years ago - there were so many it made the newspaper. The first day they were all over the south side of buildings. The second day they were all over every plant in the yard. The 3rd day a lot were trying to bury themselves in the dirt to hibernate. The bug guy from the University said that they will do that when they use up all their food.

I check aphids to see if Ladybugs have found them yet. If not, they get a blast of water. But usually after a few days of infestation, the ladybugs arrive. Apparently they can smell the distress pheromone that plants release when attacked by aphids. Like I said, fascinating - always something new to learn.

(Zone 5a)

I was checking my natives today. Some hardly have any holes in them, like the Ironweed, but I found the Sweet Indian Plantain to be a favorite. Grasshoppers and some unknown yellow/black striped beetle. It looked larger than the cucumber variety, but it wouldn't hold still for a picture. I just hope the plantain survives enough to establish. That's my only concern with the natives, that they can live the first year or two than they should be ok with any future "abuse".

That's neat about your daughter. Some caterpillars are much more interesting to look at than the butterflies. Did she see a lot of variety?

I didn't learn much about natural pest control until after I started planting natives. I do not know a lot yet, but do have some natives planted near the food gardens.

One thing about insects is they are much harder to identify than birds. So often, you cannot ID beyond family. And many do not have common names.

Here is one insect we have here that is not yet identified. A pretty fellow.

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Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My daughter was younger then, she is a teen now. I think she preferred the caterpillars as a grade-schooler because the butterflies were too hard to examine close up and were too much like miller moths. She had a fear/loathing of miller moths, I guess they tormented her if she got up to use the bathroom at night.

We had the most success with Black Swallowtails on dill. The flowerbed outside the front door was half dill and a reliable place to find caterpillars. They weren't all exactly the same because the instar stages all have slightly different markings. She would go out and count them. Now and then they would get eaten by a bird, but there was always a new crop to replace them. If I found a different type on a different plant, I would show it to her, but my other butterfly plants were never as prolific as the dill.

(Zone 5a)

That is one non-native I planted to help with butterflies last year... dill. It came up again and has spread, but no signs of caterpillars yet. The only insects have been tiny flies and bees feeding on the flowers. We have seen Black Swallowtails in the past, so hope they make their way here again.

(Zone 5a)

Finally today, I saw a Black Swallowtail. It was fluttering on the dill. I tried getting photos, but it acted like a bird and flew away. :) But it was a nice surprise. It has been years since we had one here.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Your beetle looks almost like a 6 spotted tiger beetle...without the spots.

(Zone 5a)

JuneyBug,
Thanks for the help. That's what I thought, but ruled out the tiger beetle because of the lack of spots. I use the Kaufmann's insect guide, but there is so much not found in it. I could not imagine any single guide having all insects.

I took pictures today of some others insects I hope to get ID'ed. And saw a Monarch yesterday. There's been a few around, but any time I inspect Common Milkweed, I find no caterpillars.

I am seeing a definite lack of bumble bees around here. The few bees I notice are honey and not many of those by any means. I have profusely blooming Bee Balm with very little activity on it.

Oh, one insect I am seeing a lot of are the Harvestmen. Glad to have them around.

About insect guides, is anyone aware of a Butterfly/Moth guide that includes the caterpillars? That would be so handy to have.

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

I see the green metallic beetle here sometimes in FL, they are rare to see, we have a green metallic bee too, which I do have a photo of somewhere. I'll have to look for it.

I've not seen as many lady bugs this year, like normal, maybe too hot for them this year.

I don't seek bugs to photograph, but when I'm photographing my flowers they seem to find me...so I take their picture. ☺

This four inch guy did meet his demise with my loppers after I photographed him...I don't like killing insects, but this one will eat the garden plants down to nothing in one night.

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(Zone 5a)

That is a neat grasshopper, sunkissed. We have a pasture we're trying to turn into prairie that is teeming with grasshoppers. We see little ones in the yard area, but not enough that I have noticed damage. There is a borer, weevil or something that gets some of my plants just below the flower head causing it to topple over and die. Not too big of an issue with some of my plants, but I had ONE of a yellow something that unknown insect got. :( I was hoping the flower would go to seed and then have more next year. At least I got a photo of it.

Earlier this year, we had lady beetles all over the place, the pink-spotted and convergent. Now I cannot find any. I suspect it's the next generation right now and they are more shy than the adults.

Last year, I had a lot of the metallic bees. They are in the solitary bee family, I think. I used to be afraid of them, hearing they sting, but even with my getting up close for photos, I never had a problem.

(Zone 5a)

I just had to share this... the Monarchs found my Butterflyweed.

I am kind of tempted to bring it in the house to raise, but the last time we brought one in, the pupa stage lasted way too long. It emerged 9 October that year, and with our weather, it was unlikely to get far. We brought it in early September. I wonder if inside conditions effected it. I know it does with overwintering pupa, such as Swallowtails and even the Woolly Bears (Isabella Tiger Moth).

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Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

I haven't even seen a monarch butterfly this summer, we did have cats in the winter months. Lots of other butterflies just no monarchs. I do remember when we lived in Delaware and I was in grade school catching woolly bears, they were all over the place. I did see one in north FL once, but none down here.


These dragonflies are from April and June. The green one was really big and flew right into my face while taking the picture.

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(Zone 5a)

Rejoicing...

A child found a writing spider while clearing away thistle. YAY! I've wanted to see one for a while. Unlike a grumpy spider I have at one window that won't let me take pictures, I got some of this one. I'll share them when I got them off the camera.

The grumpy spider will only let me take pictures of its underside, so I am not able to identify the species, other than it is an orb weaver. It comes out just as the sun sets to rebuild its web, so bad lighting.

(Zone 5a)

1. There's the Writing Spider. I got a photo of its abdomen today, by doing some odd contortions with the camera, will share that later.

2. Here is that ornery spider. I did find out it is nocturnal, so it now makes sense why it didn't come out until later. I believe it is a Spotted Orbweaver Neoscona domiciliorum.

3. Underside of the Orbweaver

4. Margined Blisterbeetle- there were a lot of these in our prairie patch. It is said they can cause damage in large numbers, but I haven't noticed anything amiss.

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(Zone 5a)

Whoops, I didn't remember I put my writing spider on this thread. I started a new one. Ah, well. :)

We got some stinkers here... They are not the Brown Marmorated and found in my native patch, so I let them be. The third one is a good guy, it eats the Corn Rootworm Beetles. YAY!

Oh, cannot forget this fellow. It's not a stink bug, but a fellow without a common name... as a birder that drives me nuts!!! It's a predatory bug.

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Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

Lots of Orbweavers here in FL, but I've not seen one like that. Rain been washing away our spiders for now.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Is the 4th one an assassin bug?

(Zone 5a)

JuneyBug, yes it is. The name "assassin bug" is for the Family, rather than the individual species.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Ah! Too bad that they all don't have easily remembered nicknames.

That also answers why Google Images will have lots of different kinds of slightly similar bug when I query for Assassins.

(Zone 5a)

This insect is the Insidious Flower Bug. It is a tiny bug (2mm) with a bite four times its size according to one of my children. It is apparently beneficial, since it eats mites, but for some unknown reason in the fall it bites people.

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(Zone 5a)

No one has posted to this forum in awhile, so I thought to break that trend. :)

Here is a spider I found in my bathroom a week ago. It was gone by the next morning, so I suppose it got tired of the attention I gave it.

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(Zone 5a)

Just a couple of critters, one inside and one out. :)

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Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have got Red ant colony in the sandbox and a 2 year old grandson that has already been bit. They are a weed seed eater and not a bad bug, but they have to go. Since I do not want to use any pesticides in the sandbox, I am trying to drown them out. It takes a while - but eventually works.
I never see Monarchs Spring or Summer, only fall on the return journey. So I never bothered with host plants. But since Monarchs are having difficulties, planting Milkweed is on my "to do" list. We have patches of a native Milkweed, but it has sparse needle-like leaves and Butterflies don't seem to care for it.

(Zone 5a)

I hope you can get rid of all those sandbox ants. That's no fun... Have you thought about planting any blazingstars (Liatris), whatever species is native to your area? This is one flower the fall Monarchs really go after here as they make their way south. By that time our milkweeds are done flowering for the most part. Last year the Butterflyweed had an extra long flowering season, but I don't think that is normal.

I discovered whorled milkweed last summer in our area. It has tiny, narrow leaves that I would not think appeal to Monarchs, but I found pictures somewhere with the caterpillars all over them.

I braved Tickville to chop down some non-native grasses and weeds. Found lots of little seedlings of something... maybe that yarrow seed I threw out a couple of weeks ago? I've heard conflicting things about its native status, but it is on one of my Jewels of the Prairie posters and it is good for preventing parasites. I have been opening up capsules of the powder to put into nesting boxes.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My version of a Butterfly bush - native Rabbitbrush, which ironically Rabbits don't eat.
Photos 1 & 2 were taken in October, and it is covered with various butterflies, which are hard to see wings folded. Photos 3 & 4 were taken in September, a Monarch and a Queen, which also eats milkweed. Photo 5 is of a large-leafed native milkweed in September with a Monarch catapillar in someone else's garden. So the returning Monarchs do sometimes lay a late batch of eggs. So maybe if I got better milkweed, I would get at least one batch of late Monarch caterpillars.

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(Zone 5a)

That's funny about the Rabbitbrush. I suspect rabbits do not have a lot of sense. We have all that nice clover, but instead they tug at scraggly weeds in the driveway. They do not eat a lot of natives, just a little Virginia Spiderwort, but I think they do more damage when they run through my patches.

I did not realise Monarchs would lay eggs on their way down. When does it get cold in your area? Do they have time to continue their way south?

One year we brought in a caterpillar early September that pupated and hatched. We released it right away, but it was already 9 October and we wondered if it would not make it. It took longer than we thought. I have no way of knowing, but could the inside temps slowed the process down?

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

First frost in fall is unpredictable. It can be as early as mid-September or as late as late November. If things make it through that first frost, October is generally good weather.

(Zone 5a)

My subscription ends in a few days, so I will not be participating in this forum after that.

I will admit that at times insects will cause me to get a little freaked out. Yesterday, a friend brought a plant for me from Florida. On our way home one of the children held it in his lap, when he suddenly exclaimed "Bugs are crawling on me!" My husband looks back and says they are earwigs and not to touch them. The back pincers can hurt. I've heard of earwigs, but have never run into one before and knew nothing about them. I just thought Yikes and couldn't wait to pull over to get them out of the van.

We shook the pot until they stopped falling out and put the plant in a big plastic bag and tied it up. It's supposed to be a house plant, but that plant was not coming into the house! But I was also afraid of what foreign critters might be residing in there. It stayed in the bag outside, except I did tear it open to let in some air. I was too tired to deal with it last night.

I rarely use pesticides, even the natural stuff. But I sprayed it with Green Bug this morning, focusing on the soil and bottom of the pot, since I saw no insects on the leaves. It still is sitting in the bag for the time being , but mostly uncovered.

I do not know much of the plant other than I thought it looked neat when my friend had one on her wall, a staghorn fern. It was only put in soil for transportation and she will tell me how to mount it the next time we talk.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Best Wishes Chillybean

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

Chilly best wishes to you.
I rarely see earwigs here, but I don't keep plants in the house in FL mostly because they do attract bugs. I have some in the FL room and outside only. Decades ago a huge floor plant I had inside was full of palmetto bugs, that is when I moved all plants outside for good. LOL
Take care.

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