Tag Archives: insects

Photographs from Crooked River National Grassland

Below are some photographs I took at the Crooked River National Grassland in Madras, Oregon earlier this year.

Ligated furrow bee (Halictus ligatus)

This is a male ligated furrow bee (Halictus ligatus). It was probably less than 1 cm long and very hard to photograph. Females collect pollen but I’m assuming this guy was just drinking nectar. Or perhaps just hanging out waiting for females. If you’re looking for ID tips, see page 121 of The Bees in Your Backyard and BugGuide. There’s also a fantastic guide to the species on iNaturalist.

Jagged ambush bug (Phymata) eating a bee

This is some sort of Phymata species, sucking juices out of a bee. They are just masters at camouflage. For an excellent summary of how they choose flowers that match their color and how they change colors, see this post.

I’m not sure of species, but this wasp is in the genus Trypoloxylon. It was amazing to see them land on water. Females collect spiders (and nectar and water) while the males guard the nest, often a hollow twig. I have a similar species in my yard back in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and they are my favorite wasps.

Some sort of Ptilodexia species, likely a parasite of scarab beetle larvae per literature on the genus. There were thousands of these flies in the area so there must be a huge population of scarabs there, too.

a Geron of some sort. I failed to capture a side view, so you can’t really see the humped back (of an old person) that the genus is named for. Likely parasitic on some Lepidopteran larvae.

This is Eleodes obscura sulcipennis, and they were were so numerous you had to watch where you stepped. Reminiscent of the tanker bugs in Starship Troopers, especially when they go into a butt-up defensive posture. Here’s BugGuide information page if you’re curious. By the way, the common name, “circus beetle”, refers to Eleodes hirtipennis.

I’m guessing, but I think this might be a Metepeira. It was maybe 4 mm and the wind was blowing its web back and forth, so it was super hard to get any closer views.

This juniper gall is the creation of an undescribed gall midge in the genus Walshomyia. Russo’s book, Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States, refers to it is as “species B.” But per research by my dad and sister, the galls are often filled with a moth:

Purrington, F.F., and T.M. Purrington. 1995. Hienrichiessa sanpetella Neunzig (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is an inquiline in juniper midge galls (Diptera: Ceciomyiidae). Proceedings of Entomological Society 97:227.

This is the same species but shows the actual juniper cones. I.e., even though the gall looks like a gymnosperm cone, it’s not.

This is a juniper urn gall midge (Walshomyia juniperina). The tip splits open when the adult is ready to eclose. At that stage the urns resemble pods in the Alien franchise. I know, two references to science fiction movies in one post. It’s my blog and I can do what I want.

Sadly, I have no idea what makes this gall. Perhaps Rhopalomyia sp., but that’s just a guess given that so many species in the genus make galls on sagebrush. Here’s my iNaturalist observation in case you can help me out.

More pics on my Flickr account.

Alternative lawn signs for Mosquito Shield

Mosquito Shield is just one of dozens of companies that spray pyrethroids to kill mosquitoes. Homeowners typically pay $800 per summer for treatments spaced every 21 days and, as part of the deal, agree to feature a sign in their yard for the season.

Two types of people have these yard signs. The main category is homeowners who fully understand that pesticides have bad environmental effects but who simply don’t care. These are likely the same people who knowingly drive with their high beams on at night (“It’s safer for ME!”). And then there are people who were duped by the pesticide companies into believing pyrethroids kill only mosquitoes.

To better reach this second type of person as well as those who are interested in mosquito sprays but are still on the fence, I’ve fabricated six signs that highlight the fact that pyrethroids kill other animals:

All the signs are fairly self-explanatory except for perhaps the Bird Shield one. Pyrethroids don’t kill birds directly but many species depend on insects and spiders to feed themselves and their young. So when you hire Mosquito Shield to nuke your yard every three weeks you are reducing the numbers of birds that can survive in an area.

I realize that none of the above signs is going to be used by an actual pesticide company. Their business model is to obfuscate about the effects of pyrethroids. Indeed, most companies try to hide the fact that their mosquito sprays even contain pesticides. That’s why the government (federal and/or state) should require companies to clearly indicate the active ingredient of the spray. Here’s how it could (should) look, thus allowing curious neighbors to Google the chemical and be horrified.

Pyrethroid sign for Mosquito Shield

If you are an influential part of a local government, please consider enacting an ordinance that requires disclosure of the pesticide name on signs.

If you need an individual sign for your a presentation, here are some image files: fireflies, butterflies, bees, spiders, fish, birds.

Please share this page on your neighborhood social media to get the word out. These companies are spreading in popularity and it’s horrifying.

More details here.