Tag Archives: pennsylvania

Nursery web spiders (lots of them)

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.

Colin Purrington Photography: Spiders and ticks &emdash; Nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira)

Colin Purrington Photography: Spiders and ticks &emdash; Nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) hatchlings on underside of milkweek leaf

Colin Purrington Photography: Spiders and ticks &emdash; Nursery web spider spiderlings on underside of milkweek leaf

 

Posted in Biology, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red milkweed beetles

Mating pairs of red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) are not rare (they can couple for hours at a time), but I thought this couple looked cute, in a worried sort of way. The half-lidded expression is because their compound eyes are bisected by their antennae. Beautiful beetles.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Posted in Biology, Education, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hummingbird and snowberry clearwing moths

Here are some photographs of the hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) and the snowberry clearwing moth (H. diffinis).

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird and snowberry clearwing moths

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.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) with unfurling proboscis

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) showing wing veination

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring at wild bergamot

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring at wild bergamot

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) arriving at flower

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring at wild bergamot

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis)

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis)

Posted in Biology, Education, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sycamore tussock moth

Sycamore tussock moth (Halysidota harrisii) caterpillar at Hildacy Farm Preserve in Media, PA. I remember these as a child mainly because of their urticating hairs. But they are also really, really cute. I especially like the white ones because their orange tufts stand out better than on the yellow variety. Don’t you just want to pick it up?? If by chance you don’t know what “urticating” means, I highly recommend the experience. You won’t forget.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Sycamore tussock moth caterpillar (Halysidota harrisii)

Posted in Biology, Education, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment