Tag Archives: winter

Supranivean insects and spiders

Winter is usually a depressing down time for those who enjoy taking photographs of insects and spiders, but a fresh snowfall can reveal all sorts of critters still crawling around, albeit slowly or not at all. Below are 11 of my recent finds.

1. Some sort of cynipid wasp. It’s nearly wingless (subapterous), so likely a member (female, obviously) of the asexual generation that many of these wasps go through. If I knew the species I could provide a link to the gall they make (usually on an oak), which often looks very different from the gall made by the sexual generation. If you recognize the genus or species, please let me know. Or, if you are a member of iNaturalist, comment on the observation page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Asexual cynipid in snow

2. This is probably a queen Lasius claviger. This species is a social parasite, so she might be out looking for a nest of some other species in the genus. I couldn’t find any report of queens being active during the winter so perhaps there’s another explanation. This individual was one of two I found, separated by several feet. Thanks to Gordon C. Snelling on iNaturalist for genus ID. If you think my species ID is wrong, you can correct me on iNaturalist (with thanks). Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Lasius claviger (queen)

3. Fly in the genus Simulium, per suggestion by John F. Carr on BugGuide. Here’s the iNaturalist page if you know the species and care to leave a comment. I’d even be grateful for a subgenus guess. It’s a black fly, but I’m not sure whether all of them are biting. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Simulium sp. in snow

4. This seems to be a fly in the genus Pollenia, notable perhaps because they parasitize earthworms, which was news to me. Perhaps I’m easily impressed. Saratoga Springs, NY.

Pollenia sp. in snow

5. Here’s another fly from Saratoga Springs, and I think it’s also a Pollenia. Also not moving but in this case likely dead (its thorax seemed crushed, though ventral view doesn’t show it. If you have ID thoughts, here’s iNaturalist page.

Pollenia in snow

6. This a male Chironomus crassicaudatus. A tad contorted and not moving so not the best photograph. Thanks to John F. Carr for ID. Here’s the iNaturalist page if you’re curious. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Chironomus crassicaudatus (male) in snow

7. This female fly was a few feet away from the male above, and is perhaps the same species. But definitely in the same tribe (Chironomini). Thanks, again, to John F. Carr for identification. I’ve also posted the photograph on iNaturalist if you want to weigh in on identification. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

8. Another fly in the genus Simulian, per Katja Schulz on iNaturalist. Sure looks like the images on the (Psilozia) vittatum species complex page on BugGuide. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Simulium sp. in snow

9. Lygus lineolaris, per an identification on iNaturalist. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) in snow.

10. Some type of crab spider (Thomisidae). I haven’t been able to ID further. If you have thoughts, please see the iNaturalist observation page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Thomisidae in snow

11. Long-jawed orbweaver, probably Tetragnatha. The strange thing about this spider is that I found it several feet away from where I found Tetragnatha in the snow one year before. So I was actually looking for a Tetragnatha in the snow when I found it. If you are a member of iNaturalist and want to comment on the species … here’s the page. Hildacy Farm, Media, PA.

Tetragnatha sp. in snow.

Sadly, I didn’t find any snow flies (Chionea) but here’s one I found several years ago. This post has details.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; snow-fly

Snow midge with yellow halteres

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.

 Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Snow midge (Diamesa nivoriunda)

Small winter stonefly

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. 

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta) Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta)