This week, let's see if you can identify this insect to the family level. Think you can? Post your answer in a comment before next Wednesday. Come back next week for the answer and a new challenge.
Moni and Herb recognized the gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) I posted last week. You can thank Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, a 19th century silkworm enthusiast, for introducing this invasive pest to North America.
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Bugwood.org
Did you know...
The American pelecinid wasp (Pelecinus polyturator) is an unusual-looking wasp with an equally unusual life history. The female has an extremely long, 6-segmented abdomen - about 5 times as long as the length of her head and thorax combined. Why? She uses this extended abdomen to probe the ground, feeling for May beetle grubs. When she finds one, she deposits an egg on the grub. The larva burrows into the grub and feeds on its body, killing it. In temperate regions, males of this species are rarely found, and it's believed that the females can reproduce parthenogenetically.
This week's mystery insect is probably more familiar in the caterpillar stage. Do you recognize the adults shown here? If you know what species this is, post your answer in a comment. Don't forget to return next Wednesday for a new challenge.
Did you recognize the banded cucumber beetle (Diabrotica balteata) I posted last week? Moni did! I think this is a pretty beetle, but most farmers aren't happy to see it as it's a serious pest of soybeans and other crops.
Photo: Tim McCabe/USDA ARS
Did you know...
True flies (order Diptera) have just a single pair of full wings, which will help you distinguish them from other insects (which in most cases, have two pairs of wings). Instead of a second pair of wings, a fly has a pair of tiny club-shaped structures. These structures, called halteres, help the fly maintain its balance during flight, functioning like tiny gyroscopes.
Here's one you should be able to identify to species. If you can name this insect, do so by leaving a comment below. Next Wednesday, I will post a new challenge and give you the answer to this one.
Last week's mystery insect was indeed a rose chafer in the genus Macrodactylus, as Moni correctly identified it. Bugwood lists it specifically as Macrodactylus subspinosus, but it would be difficult to know this from only an image. Although they were named for their love of munching on roses, rose chafers feed on a variety of plants.
Photo: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Did you know...
Owlfly young may be vulnerable to predators, but they do have some defenses. The female owl fly (order Neuroptera) deposits her eggs in a group on a twig. She then creates a barrier below the egg mass, using aborted eggs coated in a defensive fluid. This barrier, called a repagula, helps deter ants from finding and consuming her eggs. When the larvae first hatch from the egg mass, they position themselves in a ring with their jaws out, to deter attackers.
Here's your identification challenge for this week. This insect is difficult to identify to species from just a photograph, so let's see if you can identify its genus. If you think you can, please post your answer in a comment. Next Wednesday, I will confirm its identity and give you a mention if you answered correctly. Good luck!
Last week's insect was also a tough one to ID to species. Although it was posted on the Bugwood website as the clerid beetle, Enoclerus zonatus, information provided on the Bugguide website suggests this species does not inhabit area where it was photographed. Insect taxonomy is always changing! I asked for just the genus on this one, so if you thought it belonged in the genus Enoclerus, you are correct.
Photo: Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org
One last look at the new articles published this month on About Insects:
Did you know...
The pill millipede, Glomeris marginata, sedates potential predators by secreting compounds called quinazolinones. When threatened, the pill millipede oozes both glomerin and homoglomerin from its pores, usually immobilizing its attacker. Larger predators like mice that make the unfortunate choice of eating pill millipedes can die from ingesting the compounds. The sedative drug known as QuaaludeŽ is also a quinazolinone compound.
Can you identify the insect in this photo? This week, I'm only asking for an ID to the genus level. If you can name the genus, post your answer in a comment.
I tried to give you an easy one last week. Did you recognize the red-spotted purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis)? Moni did! There are actually two forms of this butterfly, although they were once thought to be two species. The other form is called the white admiral. You can learn more about the distinctions between the two forms of Limenitis arthemis on the BAMONA website.
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org