Here’s a snow midge I found a few days ago at Hildacy Farm Preserve. I’m not positive about the species, but perhaps Diamesa nivoriunda. I only saw one, but related members of the genus are reported to swarm during the winter.
What I’d love to know is why the halteres are yellow. They seem to be yellow on majority of diptera I’ve seen, and I’ve never stumbled onto a paper discussing why that is. All I could find was the sentence “Haltere color is often used to distinguish between species” in a Drosophila book .” If you know of a paper, please send link ASAP. Am dying of curiosity.
Posted in Biology, Photography
Tagged Chironomidae, cold, Diamesa, Diamesa nivoriunda, Diamesinae, diptera, female, fly, hildacy farm, insect, keel, keeled, midge, pennsylvania, snow, snow midge, winter
I was out looking for the elusive snow fly yesterday but found this, instead: an eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta), a member of the Capniidae (small winter stoneflies). At least that’s what I think it is. Larvae are active during the winter, and adults can fly and mate even when temperature is in the teens. Pretty incredible to see them flitting around on a cold day when other insects cannot even move. At Hildacy Farm in Media, PA. Probably emerged from the nearby Crum Creek.
Posted in Biology, Education, Photography, Science
Tagged Allocapnia recta, antifreeze, Capniidae, eastern stonefly, entomology, hildacy farm, indicator, insect, media, natural lands trust, pennsylvania, plecoptera, small winter stonefly, snow, stonefly, water quality, winter, winter stonefly
Here are some photographs of a nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) along with approximately 75 newly hatched spiderlings. She guards the hatchlings until they are older. The adult was a thing of beauty, especially when viewed large so you can see the hairs. There was a red milkweed beetle head on a nearby leaf, and the plant itself was devoid of anything but spiders. Hunting spiders like this one probably don’t help monarch populations.
I’ve never seen them do it, but apparently the adults are completely comfortable on water, and can even submerge themselves if threatened. They’re related to fishing spiders, so that’s not a complete surprise.
Photographed at Natural Lands Trust’s Hildacy Farm Preserve in Media, Pennsylvania. I can’t find any information on whether this species is native to North America, other than finding it listed on invasive.org. The species also is distributed in western Europe.
Found this spider patrolling a few leaves at Hildacy Farm Preserve in Media, PA. I’m fairly sure it’s Paraphidippus aurantius. I can totally see why some people keep salticids as pets.
Here are some photographs of the hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) and the snowberry clearwing moth (H. diffinis).
Day-active, colorful moths are rare enough, but these take it to the next level in their uncanny mimicry of hummingbirds and bumblebees, respectively. The mimicry presumably protects them from being eaten by predators such as crab spiders, praying mantids, and birds. In addition to the obvious behavioral and morphological resemblance to hummingbirds and bumblebees, the moths also make a slight humming noise that completes the disguise. The noise could easily be an unavoidable consequence of hovering flight (approximately 30 beats/second), but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if their wings are rigged in some way to exaggerate the noise. I’d love to know the answer to that. My other burning question is why the hummingbird clearwing moth has clear wings at all … I would expect selection to favor individuals that did not lose scales, because such a mutant would more resemble a hummingbird, which has opaque wings. I’m guessing that reason is not because fully-scaled wings are too heavy — the hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) in the Old World has opaque wings and can manage 70-90 beats/second (wow). I wonder whether a fully scaled wing might damp the humming sound. All photographs were taken at Natural Lands Trust’s Hildacy Farm Preserve in Media, Pennsylvania. Oh, and happy National Moth Week.
Posted in Biology, Education, Photography
Tagged butterfly, Hemaris diffinis, Hemaris thysbe, hildacy farm, hummingbird clearwing moth, lepidoptera, media, Monarda fistulosa, moth, National Moth Week, natural lands trust, pennsylvania, snowberry clearwing moth, sphingidae