Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This year I counted bugs in the yards on Dec 22, which was a slightly breezy coolish sunny day following a rainy night. Despite our mild weather conditions, the pickings were slim:
1 Glassywinged sharpshooter nymph, Homalodisca vitripennis
6 colonies of Aphis nerii, Oleander aphid. These were small colonies just starting up.
1 leafhopper of the black persuasion, as yet unidentified. It was on the white white leaf of the brittlebush.
100 or so (who's counting?) Cactus scale, Diaspis echinocacti. These were by the way NOT found on the opuntia featured in the post about using a toothbrush to remove the scale. That plant remains scale free since Feb '09. The currently infested plant is a small cutting I started in a pot; now where is that toothbrush?
Just 1 lonesome Large Milkweed Bug nymph, Oncopeltus fasciatus. What happened to all the others? and to round out the bug section: 2 leaf-footed bug nymphs, Leptoglossus zonatus, still hanging out on the myrtle fruits.
I think this was a very good summer for mantids. I saw 7 ootheca, presumably of Stagmomantis californica. Two of these were located on twigs of living plants; 2 were on the underside of the unpainted wood fence runner in the backyard; and 3 were on the lip of an old clay pot, just under the foot of the Mother Crow.
Under a white pumpkin on the porch I found just one small roach nymph, Blatta orientalis. Yay.
There were 6 or so lacewing eggs, Chrysopa sp, sprinkled on the myrtus communis compacta hedge.
While I was checking on Tough, the monarch caterpillar, a pretty red-eyed syrphid fly caught my eye. Nearby I found what appears to be an empty syrphid puparium, very likely to belong to the fly I saw.
One solitary Trupanea nigricornis, the green-eyed picture winged fly that lays eggs in Mexican marigold flowers, was frequenting the Mexican marigold as you would expect but in unexpectedly small numbers.
There were a grand total of 5 other flies which I was unable or unwilling to identify. Too cold?
2 Asian ladybird beetle adults (Harmonia axyridis) plus 2 larvae were the advance troops against the explosion of the aphid colonies mentioned above.
8 or so very small ants scurried around when I moved a potted yam. Maybe these were Thief Ants, Solenopsis molesta?
The two caterpillars, Tiny and Tough, continue to represent for Danaus plexippus, and they have been joined by lots and lots (120+) eggs. I also saw two pupae, and a couple of adults drifted by as I was counting eggs.
I saw a silk retreat or hideout which I suspect belongs to a moth caterpillar of some sort.
Then there were the SPIDERS:
A nest of about 100 newly hatched green lynx spiderlings, Peucetia viridans was perched in the variegated myrtle bush. 2 other slightly older but still young lynx were found elsewhere.
2 trash web spiders, Cyclosa turbinada, were hanging around in the camellia trees. And one crazy whirligig mite, Anystis baccarum, rounded out the bug count as it ran around looking for other mites to eat.
That's all folks. This post was actually written on 12/27/09, allowing time for holiday festivities, introspection, photo editing, and loafing.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
These are two sets of photos of two monarch caterpillars that hatched in early December; let's call them Tiny (the horizontal) and Tough (the vertical). Tough spends a lot of time on dried twigs and pods, feeding on that material and sometimes migrating to greener foliage further down on the milkweed plant. Tiny has spent all its time on greener leaves, but for a period of a few days did not move at all. I thought maybe it was dying, but about a week ago it started moving and feeding again. The first photos were taken 10 days before the 2nd. Both caterpillars are now about 2 cm long and 3mm wide. When I touch them, they don't seem to notice and their little bodies feel very cold.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
These two asian ladybird beetles, Harmonia axyridis, are disturbingly similar in appearance in the thin December sunlight of my parkway strip. One cruises a milkweed, the other was found on a seedling acacia. There are lots of aphids (aphis nerii) on the milkweed plants but none apparent on the acacia.
forsook sustenance on thin leaf.
Pragmatic's fair twin.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I heard Mr. Cardui calling from the throne on a recent evening, something about something I should see. Turned out to be worth it: a stink bug making an appearance on the bathroom mirror, buzzing around the lights, and exploring the paper towel roll. This bug's story came out later, as the daughter let on about finding what she thought was a roach in her bath towel, then feeling relief to find it was just a stinky pentatomid plant bug that hitchhiked in from the yard on her jacket.
Today another one of these bugs came in the office door and discovered the green light on my wireless mouse thingy.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
This first green lynx spider has captured a leaf-footed bug in the tops of the variegated myrtus communis bush out by the front fence. These late season spiders don't survive the winter but their appetite drives them to keep on hunting as long as the sun shines. This spiders 2 egg sacs (hatched and sent on their spiderling ways) are in the foreground of the picture obscuring our view of the lethal bite.
The second green lynx spider is hanging from her egg sacs, also both hatched out and dispersed, limp and dead. Notice the dark mark on her abdomen. A bit higher up in the same African basil bush I noticed a small orb web . . . could this be the home of what killed this lynx spider? A fly lurks nearby, maybe attracted by the spider carcass or maybe just a random fly enjoying the basil-scented winter sunshine before the rain.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I found these katydid eggs affixed in two rows along a small twig by my mailbox. Which species of katydid laid them?
Scudderia furcata (forktailed bush katydid) is common in my garden, but she inserts her eggs between the tissue layers on the edge of leaves so I knew these eggs couldn't be her doing.
Phaneroptera nana, the Mediterranean katydid, recent import to OC would seem a likely suspect, except I found 2 citations stating the eggs are inserted into plant tissue (1 said apple leaves, the other outer bark of grapevines.
Microcentrum sp eggs are said to look like rows of small overlapped canteloupe seeds. The only microcentrum said to occur in CA (per bugguide) is californicum, however no katydid I've seen here has the brown patch on the thorax. M. rhombifolium seen here on Arthropods of Orange County (therefore, presumably occuring here in OC, contrary to info on bugguide saying it's not found in California) could have been the one pictured here (and therefore misidentified). Hmmm.
So which is it: 3 species of katydid in my small domain or just the two?
By the way these eggs were parasitized by a wasp, of unknown and possibly unknowable species.
Meanwhile, a katydid nymph is found on a nearby ruellia stem, offering its cuteness as a diversion from worries about identification and other serious matters.