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
Apple oak gall (Amphibolips confluenta or Amphibolips quercusinanis), backlit to show leaf-like venation. Second photograph is a cross section showing where the wasp larva develops. I’d love to know what the spotting does, if anything.
Cynipid wasps love oaks for some reason — over 3/4 of the 1300 species use Quercus as host. People argue about why that’s the case (e.g., Ronquist et al. 2015). Even Alfred Kinsey the sexologist weighed in, back in the days when he was obsessed with gall wasps.
Posted in Photography, Science
Tagged Amphibolips confluenta, Amphibolips quercusinanis, apple oak gall, coevolution, cynipid, cynipidae, defense, development, gallwasp, glands, hymenoptera, insect, leaf, meristematic stimulation, plant, quercus, Quercus bicolor, round, secretion, spots, wasp, yellow
Here’s a photograph of a narrow barklouse (Graphopsocus cruciatus) with a clutch of eggs. I was initially taking a photograph of the domed structure (more on that below), but then examined the photo on my camera’s LCD viewer and saw this tiny insect moving around. Which surprised me — it was December 18th, and cold. It wasn’t freezing, but certainly not a day I’d expect to find an insect out ovipositing. But apparently this group of insects (Stenopsocidae) are known to be active if there’s a random warm day in winter. I might go back in a few weeks to see what’s become of them.
Here’s a closeup of the eggs so you can see the silk that holds them down. I watched her apply this webbing (from labial silk glands) for about 15 minutes. Some species in this group are gregarious and can cover an entire tree in such webbing, which tends to freak out homeowners. I’ve only seen that in Puerto Rico, though.
I’m not exactly sure what the egg case is (antmimic spider? ground sac spider?), but I’m wondering whether the barklouse might have positioned her eggs near a potential food source. Barklice are reported to eat fungi, algae, lichens, plant tissue, and pollen, but there doesn’t seem to be much published on the species’ natural history or diet prefereces. I briefly thought the structure might be a slime mold like Enteridium lycoperdon, but then I saw (I think) white embryos or larvae through one of the two holes that seemed roughly chewed through the shell-like exterior. If you recognize the contents, I’d love to hear from you.
Many thanks to Ross Hill (Meford, Oregon) for identification, and to Edward Mockford (University of Illinois) for helpful references on the species.
Posted in Biology, Photography
Tagged barklice, barklouse, egg, Graphopsocus, Graphopsocus cruciatus, insect, Psocodea, silk, Stenopsocidae, web
Copulating pair of Taeniaptera trivittata, a type of still-legged fly (Micropezidae). Males (or females, according to one source) apparently brush the eyes of the partner during mating, though this frame didn’t capture that. When flitting around leaves they wave their white-tipped forelegs and look just like small ichneumon wasps. They have thin waists but the pattern on their wings makes them look even thinner, waspier. Known to feed on rotting Typha, which was abundant nearby (John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Tinicum, PA).
If you come across a pair, please take a video so I can see the legs in action. I like to watch, and I know of others who are interested in this species.
Huge thanks to John S. Ascher and John F. Carr on Bugguide.net for help identifying them.
Posted in Biology, Photography, Science
Tagged ant mimic, copulating, diptera, entomology, flies, fly, ichneumon, ichneumonid, insect, mating, Micropezidae, mimic, mimicry, still-leg flies, stilt-legged flies, Taeniaptera trivittata, thin-waisted, wasp mimic