When wasps dance

Polistes_major_dance_20121108 1

Earlier this week I witnessed some insect behavior with which I was previously unfamiliar. (To be fair, I am unfamiliar with, to make a conservative estimate, most insect behavior.) A pair of wasps of the species Polistes major were, to put it simply, crowding each other on our deck box. Sometimes they would face each [...] [...]

Cold spells=insect close-ups


The first few days of fall in Florida often bring cold (well, cool) fronts to the region. This year we’re already on our second or third round of long-sleeve days, so I thought this might be a good time to show off what I’ve been able to capture of the cold-slowed insect fauna. Here’s a [...] [...]

When dragonflies don’t…


fly, that is. This morning when Eric and I went outside to plant some basil (yes, November is the start of herb-growing season here in south Florida), we noticed a dragonfly on the wall of the house that wasn’t moving very much. One of its wings was at an odd angle: On closer inspection, it [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Polistes major


The first cold front of the year moved in earlier this week, bringing overnight lows into the 50s (brrr). That’s not very cold, of course, but to those who are used to overnight lows in the 70s or higher, it’s still quite a shock. Witness this poor paper wasp, stunned by the cold and hanging [...] [...]

A romp in the grass with some fine damsels


The last few days have seen the finest weather I can recall since moving to Florida. Daytime highs in the low- to mid-70s, overnight lows in the 50s and 60s, a light breeze making sure that even when you’re out in the sun you feel cool and refreshed. This is what living in south Florida [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Ischnura hastata (Say)


Some insects look so delicate and fragile that it’s hard to remember that they can be among the most ferocious predators, at least for their size, on the planet. Case in point: the tiny little yellow damselfly Ischnura hastata, commonly known as the Citrine Forktail. It’s only about an inch long and its wings look [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Zethus slossonae (Fox)


Once you start looking for wasps, you see them everywhere. My back yard supports several different species, from several different wasp families, with more appearing almost every day. My latest find is Zethus slossonae, from the Vespidae family, subfamily Eumeninae. It’s an attractive wasp with head and thorax in black with yellow markings and a [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Diaprepes abbreviatus (Linnaeus)


Some of the most interesting-looking creatures in the insect world (and among the most destructive to crops and ornamental plants) are the weevils, family Curculionidae. Their larvae feed on the roots of plants while their adult forms munch on the leaves, forming a one-two punch that can cause enormous damage. These phytophagorous habits, combined with [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Euphoria sepulcralis


I first noticed a curious little beetle the other afternoon; I was out looking for bees and wasps, and it did exactly what bees and wasps tend to do: make a “beeline” for a flowerhead, then settle in on it and gather pollen or nectar. So of course I assumed it was a bee at [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Loxa flavicollis (probably)


If you live in south Florida, you probably have a pool. And if you live with little ones, you probably have a fence screening that pool from unwanted incursions by unwary feet. And if you’re interested in nature, you’ll soon discover that the fence does a remarkable job of collecting specimens, not just of dead [...] [...]