I’ve posted a few pics of the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) on Instagram but thought I’d feature my full collection in a post. The insect is extremely photogenic but it’s also good to let people know what different stages look like so that everyone can kill them. I still need some early-instar pics as well as some showing spotted lanternflies being consumed by parasites and fungi.
Here are some photographs of greenhouse camel crickets (Tachycines asynamorus) that I recently found in and around my house. It’s called the greenhouse camel cricket because when it (and related T. japanica) first came to Europe from Asia it was a common insect in conservatories. I’m not positive, but I think before that invasion the name “camel cricket” was more commonly applied to the praying mantis (mantids have long necks just like camels).
Note that the Latin name for this species used to be Diestrammena asynamora. Full details are in Qin et al. 2018. Nobody seems to use the new name except iNaturalist. But I use iNaturalist a lot so I’m going to give the new name a try.
This is a juvenile that I found in my bathroom sink. I think they go through 10 instars and I’m guessing this is a 3rd instar male (lacks an ovipositor). It was pretty cute.
Camel crickets love to eat cat feces (don’t judge) so it’s pretty common to find them lurking here, sometimes in large groups. I don’t think the females lay eggs in cat litter but I’ve always been curious. Not curious enough to examine more closely, though.
This is the same individual as above but shows the ovipositor and impressive length of the antennae. The antennae apparently have the ability to sense heat. That’s probably a fact most people don’t want to know.
This female was in the woodpile near my garage. It was a cold day so she didn’t immediately launch herself away. They often seem to jump at you, a behavior that doesn’t endear them to folks who think the crickets are actually spiders. I think their jump can max out at 1 1/2 meters, which is pretty impressive. They can’t fly, though, because they lack wings (and are thus silent). Note that placing woodpiles near your house is one way people inadvertently introduce camel crickets into their houses.
These three gooey splotches are frass. If you have a large population of camel crickets your wall will become darkened with this spots. I’ve been trying to figure out why they are liquid but haven’t come up with any explanations yet.
If you’re fascinated by greenhouse camel crickets there’s a great article at Your Wild Life that describes how different species are invading the United States. If you just want to kill them I have a few ideas.
During my recent trip to Hawai’i I got to wondering how conservation organizations use Instagram to educate the public about invasive species. A quick search pulled up several groups that seem involved, at least occasionally, and I’ll list here just in case you want to follow them (# followers in parentheses):
Part of my reason for wasting time on the above was because when I posted a photograph of an introduced frog, I wasn’t sure if anyone on Instagram might care. Potentially, there might be a group or two that might want to be mentioned, in the off chance that a species hadn’t been noticed at that particular location. Not being a native (I was a baby when I lived there), I had no idea which groups to tag, though, so all I did was add some hashtags for the species name as well as #invasive #introduced #nonnative … with the hope that somebody might find it useful someday (unlikely). But the process got me wondering how groups use Instagram to get the word out on how to control invasives. Here are some thoughts on how to do it, with apologies to the groups who are already doing it:
To build buzz about your organization and its goals, repost images of others that show the species you are trying to control. People love to have their images reposted or their accounts mentioned. You can find these images by following people (duh), or by searching Google for Instagram photos with particular keywords (e.g., site:instagram.com coqui kauai). The routine is just this: ask them if it would be OK to be reposted/featured … and then give them credit by including Instagram handle (i.e., don’t just give the photographer’s name).
If you don’t want to feature other people’s images, at least patrol other people’s posts that relate to invasive species, endemics, restoration, etc. For example, if somebody posts an adorable photograph of a small frog and says, “Love this little guy; going to send to my uncle on Kauai for his birthday!” … you can urge them not to do that. Or, when somebody posts about clearing invasives from property, you can say thanks (and perhaps invite them to a volunteer day if you’re group is local). And it’s not just people making posts about invasives … many companies are active in promoting pono and have thousands of active followers (@southmauispearfishing, e.g., has *dozens* of posts about invasive roi and what to do about them). The more you interact by favoriting and commenting, the more people on a particular island will see your organization’s work as important and worth supporting.
If your organization has volunteer work days, add an “Instagram name” column to your sign-in sheet. Then mention each person when you post photos from the event (you should do that!). People love to be publicly thanked. Example. Another example.
In your bio and in your posts, remind folks to tag their own images with #invasive #hawaii (or whatever) and species name so that the posts can help educate their followers. Example. Example. You can also dream up custom hashtags such as #hawaiiinvasive if you want (that’s from @kauaiisc, by the way).
When you make presentations about invasives at local schools, show your Instragram handle at start and end. Young adults increasingly don’t care about your web site, your twitter feed, or your phone number but you might get them to follow on Instagram.
Award prizes to people reporting or posting certain kinds of images. People love contests. For example, send some swag to person who posts best selfie with gold dust day gecko (example).
If you include a phone number in your bio for reporting a particular species, include an area code in case clueless tourists see call to action. Repeat this number in posts, too … because somebody might not bother to visit your actual home page.
Check Instagram regularly to see whether anyone has posted an image of a species of special concern. For example, you can run a search for “site:instagram.com snake hawaii” to patrol for snake sightings (the search results are mainly Hawaiian shirts with snakes). There used to be several ways to automate such Instagram searches and receive emails … but Instagram blocked them.
If your organization doesn’t have an Instagram account, fix that.