One of the thorn-like treehoppers, perhaps the Oak Treehopper (Platycotis vittata), since it looks a little like one of those, sans the hornlike crest some of them grow, and was on an oak. These feed on sap. As one of the bugs of the order Hemiptera, they are suckers, not chewers.
Posts Tagged 'insects'
Tags: butterflies, insects, invertebrates
In Sterling Forest State Park, a Red-spotted Purple. Limenitis arthemis has two rather different forms, the other, more northerly, one known as the White Admiral.
The “Spring Azure Complex, Celastrina ladon and others,” is how the Kaufman Field Guide refers to these small, widespread, and common butterflies that are azure on the upperside of their wings, but rather lighter on the underside. Seen on the Brooklyn Promenade.
Tags: Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, damselflies, dragonflies, insects, invertebrates
This morning I joined Brooklyn Bridge Park staffers and volunteers for an orientation about the Dragonfly Pond Watch they are participating in this season. As part of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, the Watch is gathering data about five of the sixteen known migratory dragonfly species in North America:
Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum).
Two of the species, the Darner (a male; the female is picture above, from my archives) and Saddlebags, were present this morning, which was helpful. I’ve seen the Spot-winged Glider in the park, and got this picture last year:
The Variegated Meadow is a Midwestern/Western species; it may sometimes show up on this coast in the fall. I am looking forward to the delightfully named Wandering Glider, a widely distributed species found in many parts of the world.
This morning we also saw a Blue Dasher, the most common of dragonflies in the park, and this 12-Spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella):This is a male. Females don’t have the white spots on their wings. (The name count comes from the three dark marks per wing.)
Both Dragonflies and Damselflies have aquatic larval stages; when they emerge, they shed their larval husks, unfurl their wings, and go. We were lucky to spot a single empty exoskeleton, known as an exuvia
Both dragonflies and damselflies are in the Odonata order. Damselflies are generally smaller, thinner, and when perched have wings closed over their abdomen; dragonflies hold their wings straight out. There were several species of damselflies about this morning, but these are rather harder to ID than the dragonflies:Note that it is munching on something with wings. The widely separated eyes are another marker of the damselflies. Both “odes” are voracious predators, in both aquatic nymph and airborne adult stages.
Tags: cicadas, insects, invertebrates, Staten Island
Nymphal husks of the Dog Day or Annual Cicada (Tibicen sp.), and the Periodic, 17-Year Cicada (Magicicada sp.). The Dog Day husk is from last August, if not the one before that, but its toes are still quite sharp. They don’t cut the skin, but they sure do cling to the little nooks and crannies.Tibicen on the left. A bigger animal in every way. Center and right are Magicicada. Note the slight size differential between these two Magicicada husks. I can’t tell the husks apart, but there are three species expected on Staten Island: M. septendecim, M.cassini, M, septendecula. This is the guide I’m using for the adults. They all have different songs.Cicada adults have two pairs of wings. This is one pair, one of many we saw Monday; most predators rip or clip these off, and all the recipes you see are for the de-winged insects. Magicicada forewing and hindwing (or underwing).
Tags: cicadas, insects, invertebrates, Staten Island
Seventeen years later, the genus Magicicada cicadas have emerged for the brief but glorious finale to their lives. Staten Island is the local epicenter for Brood II. Yesterday, Chris the Flatbush Gardener and I went in search of them, following an article in the Times that sent us to Clove Lakes Park. We scouted the north end of the park and found no sign of them. We went down to the southern end of Clove Lakes, and parked on Royal Oak Road, across the street from the park. The car was beside a tree, the front right wheel close to the curb. I called Chris’s attention to this, so that we wouldn’t run into a piece of broken curb on the way out. Then, looking down, I said, “They’re everywhere!”All over the grassy bit between the road and sidewalk; there were easily thousands of them to be seen as we walked a few blocks. Most were the shed nymphal husks, split down the back. Many of the husks were on the ground, but some were still attached to the trees. They climb up to latch onto something before they transform into adults, which essentially break out of the body of the nymph.There were also bits and pieces of the adult cicadas all over the place.They are being devoured, by pretty much everybody: birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians; (“Not by me!” says a friend emphatically). Their massive numbers are their strategy for getting through this gauntlet of predators.We neither saw, nor heard, a single live adult. Those that survived the rough passage from nymph to adult, and into the safety of the trees, were quiet. We need some more heat, and more cicadas, before the roaring begins. This week is going to get hot and I suspect the next two weeks will be cicadamaniacal. We did find one living nymph. It’s on my arm in the picture at the beginning of this post, as well as here:The tiny bark-grasping feet create an interesting sensation on the skin. But they’re harmless. Although this one did seem to excrete on me…
Tags: Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, flowers, insects, ladybugs
Aphids feasting on plant juices, a 14-spotted lady beetle (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata) and syrphid fly larva (h/t for the ID on this one, Lost Ladybug Project) feeding on aphids.
Tags: birding, birds, insects, Prospect Park
At first they rise like little puffs of smoke from their ground nest. Then more and more of them emerge, small and unwieldy fliers, swarming into the humid air. They are termite reproductives, and a swarm of them brings birds to gobble them from the air. Stand there and watch as barn and tree swallows and chimney swifts zoom in on them, at eye level, acrobatic fliers whose wings you can hear they are so close. Maneuvering easily around you, they will rise as the mass of termites rise until they are much higher up. On or near the ground, meanwhile, are hopping, darting, “flycatching,” birds — warblers, thrushes, catbirds, tanagers — the bonanza seems to bring everybody out for a feast, regardless of their usual foraging habits.Although caste-structured social insects like ants, termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches. They were formerly classified as order Isoptera, but based on morphological and DNA evidence are now Blattodea.
For many are called, and most of them are eaten.
“The air here is filled with their din. They come out of the ground at first in an imperfect state, and crawling up the shrubs and plants the perfect insects burst out through the back…. Their din is heard by those who sail along the shore from the distant woods. Phar-r-r-oh. Phar-r-oh.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, during the 1843 emergence of Brood II on Staten Island, where he was living at the time.
There are three species of periodical cicadas on Staten Island, our local epicenter for Brood II’s emergence this year: Magicicada septendecim, the most common and widespread species; M. cassinii; and M. septendecula, first recognized on the island in 1979. Staten Island is a hot spot for cicadas in more ways than one. Local naturalist William T. Davis was one of the world’s premier cicada specialists, naming many new species and building up one of the great world collection of cicadas:A selection of North American cicadas from the Staten Island Museum‘s collection. Visit the museum’s cicada blog for more information.These are some samples of the mud chimneys the Magicicada nymphs build as they prepare to emerge from their long subterranean portion of their lives.
But what’s up with the periodicalness of periodical cicadas? They come in two flavors: 13 and 17 year. (Annual cicadas are also periodical, emerging every 3-7 years or so, depending on the species; one brood or another is emerging every year, though, so these are always with us.) Brood II is a 17-year emergence. But the animals may switch back and forth, alternating between 13 and 17 years, depending on climate and other cues. Also, the genetic difference between broods/species is notable, meaning they have been doing this for millions of years. Check out this link for some interesting thoughts and research on the subject. Insects that emerge every year can prime the pump of predators; i.e. a good year of prey will most likely lead to a good year of reproduction for predators, so that in the following year, there will be even more predators for the prey. Staggering reproductive years by such time spans is a way of completely out-foxing the fox. Prime number intervals, btw, like the components of today’s date 5/1/13, which works better Euro-style: 1/5/13 — although, of course, 1 isn’t a prime.
Happy May Day, citizens.
Tags: Brooklyn, caterpillars, Floyd Bennett Field, insects, invertebrates, moths
Traci spotted this big, burly, bristly 2.5″ caterpillar Saturday night. It was crossing the mowed median between Flatbush Ave. and the bicycle path at Floyd Bennett Field. As we approached, the ‘pillar rose up, its deep black eyes alert to hominid danger. Evidently, if we’d attempted to touch it, it would have rolled into a head-to-tail circle of spikes, but it isn’t otherwise toxic/allergic, as some of the hairy ones are. This is the caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia). Some of the red intersegmental rings are visible here. I used a combination of the camera flash and Nate’s flashlight for these shots.
This critter, which over-wintered in this form (where, by Godwin?), was not heading towards Flatbush Ave (quite the opposite, in fact), a gauntlet of infernal combustion-driven death, so we just let it go on its way. It’s a nocturnal feeder, “broadly polyphagous” (hey, moi aussie!) according to David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America. The leopard-patterned adult moth looks quite handsome. I’ve never seen one before. This was a first time for the caterpillar, too. The night is full of surprises.