Readers’ wildlife photographs

February 24, 2017 • 7:30 am

Mark Sturtevant has been kind enough to sent us another largish batch of his arthropod photos. His notes are indented:

I have a LOT more pictures, including some unusual species to send later. For now, this large batch will have to do. Enjoy.

First, the small but pretty ‘jewel’ beetle is really the infamous emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). This insect was introduced to the U.S. from Asia in the 1990’s, and is now a very serious pest in the U.S.

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The next two pictures are of a flower longhorn beetle. There are many species that resemble this one, but it looks more like Strophiona nitens than anything else. I like the fuzzy gold tummy and in the second picture it looks to be nonchalantly scratching an itchy leg.

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We took a trip to my hometown area in Iowa to visit my mother and brother. Of course one notices how things have changed, and among these seemed to be some changes in the local insects. For example, I would have definitely noticed buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) back in the days when much of my free time was spent collecting insects. But I never saw one. Now, for some reason they are pretty common. I found this one in a park that I used to frequent with a butterfly net over 30 years ago. It was feeding on a pile of fresh dog poo alongside two other species of butterflies, but fortunately the buckeye walked away after it was satiated.

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Next is a googly-eyed crab spider, Misumessus oblonguswith a Muscid fly meal. Approached by a carpenter ant, she leaped away and dangled on a dragline with her prey. When the ant moved on, she quickly reeled herself back up. I thought that was pretty clever.

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The colorful leafhopper in the next picture is one of our ‘sharpshooter’ leafhoppers, Graphocephala coccinea. This is a variable species, with some that are green and red and others that are blue and red.

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The next pictures are a species that I photograph a lot as I seek a perfect picture of it. This is the lovely ebony jewel wing damselfly, Calopteryx maculata. In the mating pair of jewel wings, the one with a white waxy bloom is the female. I think older jewel wings tend to develop this feature.

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The last pictures are more of our infamous house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). Like some of the species above, I have shown pictures of these before. I may be one of the few people on the planet who does not want to squish these large and fast centipedes on sight. I have learned they breed in the winter, explaining why I have been seeing several babies in our basement recently. The last picture shows that house centipedes haven an almost kindly face, with a decent pair of compound eyes. One has to overlook the fangs, of course, which in centipedes are properly called forcipules. They are really a modified pair of front legs.

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24 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. I don’t squish centipedes either. I don’t want them on me & their speed freaks me out, but they kill lots of pests & don’t go out looking to bite humans. I’m not sure that they can bite us hard enough to penetrate our skin, but I don’t want to try to find out either.

    1. I have a friend who lives on Kauai where he has encountered the Vietnamese centipede Scolopendra subspinipes. It gets quite large and can inflict an extremely painful venomous bite. My friend got stung on the foot when a centipede crawled into his shoe during the night. He said he couldn’t walk on it for 3 days. So I guess the lesson is be wary of some centipedes, especially in the tropics.

    2. I will handle smaller ones without a problem, but so far I have not been able to persuade myself to handle a big adult. They often open and close their forcipules, just flexing ’em, it seems, and that puts me off any ideas.

    3. I don’t either. My cat is terrified of them though (as she is with any insect in the house) and won’t go near them, and instead will cry to get my attention to it. Only when it’s safely barricaded under a glass will she timidly swipe a paw at it.

  2. The house centipede is a familiar denizen here. I usually swat them on sight, but now that I’ve had a chance to see the forcipules in all their flesh ripping splendor, and I see why the 10 times more legs than they really need might not be too much, I’ll be content to let them breed happily in my sock drawer. Thanks so much Mark. 😎

  3. Wonderful set of pics Mark.

    Spiders are some pretty serious bad-asses. Many species routinely take prey that is much larger than themselves, as shown in your spider picture here.

    The flower longhorn beetle is very pretty. Its head looks very bee-like.

  4. Two relevant bits of movie dialogue:
    “I’ve been killing spiders since I was 30.”
    “If I had known it was harmless,
    I’d have killed it myself.”

  5. Great pictures!

    The “google-eyed” crab spider’s abdomen reminds me of Heikeopsis(Heikeopsis japonica) which is a species of crab native to Japan. The shell bears a pattern resembling a human face which many believed to be the face of an angry samurai hence the nickname Samurai Crab. The spider’s “face” looks like the pillsbury dough boy. So what evolutionary force made that? 🙂

    1. I noticed the face, too. I thought it looked like a space alien. Probably genetically engineered by space aliens and then released here on Earth.

  6. What a great assortment of insects. For some reason the sharpshooter leafhopper reminds me of a koi fish.
    As far as the centipedes, kind of scary looking—As a kid I used to think they could kill you.
    Thanks for the wonderful photos-

  7. Great photos and commentary Mark. I always enjoy your submissions.

    I don’t kill any arthropods unless they try to suck my blood. 🙂

  8. Hi ,over in GB we have Froghopper insects ,are they the same as Leafhoppers ?.
    The Nymphs cover themselves in frothed up plant sap ,which is know as Cuckoo spit because it appears at the same time as the Cuckoos arrive in the spring.

    1. Froghoppers are related, and grouped into several families (superfamily Cercopoidea). We have those too. Leafhoppers are in a different superfamily (Membracoidea). There are some anatomical differences, but a common way to recognize them is that froghoppers are wider.

  9. Thanks for another set of awesome pictures Mark! I love the jewel-like emerald ash borers, although I’d prefer to have lower Michigan’s ash trees back. I shoulda made jewelry out of some of them.

  10. Great photos. Thanks Mark for taking them and PCC(E) for having a regular readers pictures post. Whadda web site

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