This tiny beetle is Sehirus cinctus, the White-margined Burrowing Beetle. 4-6.5mm long. There were several on the very hairy leaves of what looks like Stachys something or other.
Adult females of this species care for their young, which is fairly unusual in the insect world. Plenty of insects provision their young, but most aren’t around to feed them directly. Wasp mothers, for instance, who feed their young with paralyzed spiders die before they see their next generation. But let’s not get sentimental. Different strategies for different folks.
These beetles can sometimes swarm on your ornamentals, but they are harmless feeders on the seeds of mint family plants, so leave them alone. And for the planet’s sake, don’t spread the poisons of pesticides/insecticides: that shit harms beneficial insects and ends up in the water and, surprise, surprise, you, too.
You know what I like about this blogging project of mine? The fact that there is always something new to learn. It’s the universe, after all, and I will never ever even begin to contain it.For instance, this is one of the Lampyridae family of beetles, the fireflies, lightning bugs, glowworms. But hold on a moment: this and several of its fellows (yes, the long, elaborate antennae tells us they’re male) were flying in the daylight. This is one of the dark fireflies, day-fliers who do not glow or blink or light up magically. So how can it be a firefly? I mean, besides looking like a firefly? Well, what unites the Lampyridae is that they all have larvae that produce bioluminescence. Yet not all the adults do: and this is one of them, a member of the Lucidota genus. Instead of using light to attractive females, these dark fireflies do it with chemicals; that’s why the antennae are so elaborate, and why they were so busy, waving in the air, searching for female Lucidota pheromones in Van Cortlandt Park. I recently attended a talk by entymologist Sara Lewis, who discussed her study of fireflies and her new book, Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies. Afterwards we all walked into Prospect Park, where a fog after sunset made for wondrous effects. And yes, we saw fireflies, Big Dippers (Photinus genus). And everybody was happy.
Here’s one of the night-flying blinky-blink lightning bugs, a Photinus Big Dipper, hiding out during the day.
Lewis begins with the near-universal fascination with fireflies, one of those insects are that loved wherever they are found, which is not something you can say for most insects for most people. I still delight in seeing the blink of fireflies at night: there is something awe-inspiring and magical about them. There are some who say that science takes the awe out of the world, but I think this is silly. Knowing that bioluminescence is a chemical process may demystify it, but doesn’t make it any less amazing. The fact that evolutionary processes resulted in such things makes it infinitely more fascinating than the snap of the fingers/tentacles notion of creation by some kind of superior being/presiding genius.
A Common or Reddish-Brown Stag Beetle (Lucanus capreolus) male who didn’t make it. Found on the sidewalk next to Prospect Park. This specimen is about an inch long. Inhabitants of parks, suburbs, and hardwood forests, they’re mostly nocturnal. They feed on sap; those pincer-like mandibles are used to battle other males for territory. Dudes.
A wonderful manifestation of the wild city at night, sadly stomped by someone who probably didn’t notice. Or perhaps did: an exterminationist attitude runs strongly among some of the benighted, especially when it comes to “bugs.”
This is a Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis), seen last week in Virginia. The Chesapeake region is their last holdout. They used to live on Long Island beaches, but no longer. Creatures evolved to beach habitat — others include the endangered Piping Plover — never saw the four-wheel drive coming. This was at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, a state-managed property. A couple were letting their three unleashed dogs run all over the beach and the adjoining marsh. Pretty typical: we see this blithe contempt for the world, the assumption that it exists only for ourselves, everywhere we go.
You’ve been waiting patiently all winter long for some serious insect life to liven things up. This was the week!
Two color variations of the Spotted Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata).These are in the Coccinellidae family of ladybugs, but clearly not the usual rounded shape of the classic VW. Sure are spotty, though: another common name for them is Twelve-Spotted Lady Beetle. I wasn’t familiar with these.The first damselfly I’ve seen this season is our old friend the Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita). There was another smaller species flitting about that eluded my lens.These were tiny and, presumably, larval. But larval what is the question.Seen at a distance yet still identifiable with that Comma (Polygonia comma) mark!
Bonus: All of the above were spotted in Great Swamp NWR. Here in the city, massive Carpenter Bees are buzzing around wood (houses, benches, telephone poles, etc.) now looking for a place to nest. On the desolation called 4th Avenue, there’s a tiny patch of ground behind the 36th subway entrance, between fences (Green-Wood is beyond), that seems to be attracting some ground nesters as well.