Olive Green Swamp Grasshopper

Meet Paroxya clavuliger, the olive green swamp grasshopper. This unassuming little spur-throated grasshopper is about 3-4 cm long (females are larger), and is also known as the salt marsh grasshopper and hoosier grasshopper. Both sexes are primarily green to greenish-black, with black eyes, and a dark stripe through each eye, also running down the pronotum….

Dog Turd Fungus

I ordinarily try not to be crass online, but sometimes you’ve just gotta use a certain phrase. There’s not a lot this squishy, brown, suspiciously cylindrical fungus resembles more than, ahem, dog poop, especially when you step on it (I bet you can guess how I know). The brown color is so strong that yarn…

Admirable Grasshopper

I can see where this gorgeously striped and spotted green grasshopper got her common name — she is truly an admirable grasshopper! (She must have just molted, her colors are so bright!) Also known as the handsome grasshopper, Syrbula admirabilis is a species of slant-faced grasshopper from the family Acrididae. This individual is about 3.5…

Common Buttonbush

Native to the eastern United States, the common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) attracts both birds and butterflies with its inch-wide, white spherical blossoms. Buttonbush is a shrub in the Rubiaceae family, often used as an ornamental plant or windbreak. It can get to be pretty large, about 8′ high and 14′ wide. (I am NOT a…

Tumbling Flower Beetle

This beetle is so tiny (approximately 2-3mm long) that I wasn’t even sure it was an insect when I snapped its photo. This minuscule insect is a tumbling flower beetle, or pintail beetle, in the family Mordellidae. These beetles all share the long, pointed abdomen extending past the elytra, the bent-over posture with the angle…

Polydamas Swallowtail

This glorious, 6 cm long gothic horror will grow up to be a gorgeous black and gold butterfly. The polydamas swallowtail (also known as the gold rim swallowtail and tailless swallowtail) is one of only two butterflies in the genus Battus in the US. It is also the only swallowtail in the US to lack…

Oak Leaf Rolling Weevil

Meet Homoeolabus analis, the oak leaf rolling weevil! These attractive little weevils (I love weevils) with black bodies and red elytra are named for their habit of rolling up oak leaves (a process called nidification — the rolls themselves are called nidi, singular: nidus) to protect their eggs and larvae. It’s actually a pretty complex…

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

A common and striking yellow and black butterfly seen across the eastern United States, this is the eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. It’s a male, because its hindwings have almost no blue — in females, there are big blue patches right above the black parts on the hindwings. Females are actually dimorphic, and have two…

Coffee-Loving Pyrausta Moth

This red and gold crambid moth has some individual variation to its gold-stripes-on-red pattern, but I find most of them look a lot like a smiling jack-o-lantern! You can probably guess by the common name, coffee-loving pyrausta moth, what the larvae of this moth enjoy eating most — wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa. Pyrausta tyralis lives…

Globe-Marked Lady Beetle

This little gray lady beetle with black spots is the globe-marked lady beetle, Azya orbigera. It’s found in North and South America, and in Oceania, and…that’s about all we know, which is kind of a shame. The larvae are fluffy little white things that look like mealyworms.

Forest Tent Caterpillar

A cousin to the eastern tent caterpillar, the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) doesn’t actually make tents; instead, it constructs silken mats along tree trunks and branches. Like its cousin, however, it also congregates in large numbers and the mats can be just as unsightly and large as the tents. The caterpillars are harmless to…

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

I remember, as a small person, gathering these up by the dozens and keeping them in a jar for a few hours, marveling at them. Anyone who grew up in the eastern United States remembers eastern tent caterpillars, which form a huge, white silken tent in the branches of trees where they’re eating, occasionally gathering…

Dorantes Longtail

The family Hesperiidae, including the skippers, duskywings and cloudywings, is an exercise in frustration for field identification: 3500 species of “medium size, brown butterflies with spots” and varying patterns on the wing fringes. Add in the vagaries of amateur entomologist photography and, well. I originally identified this as a southern cloudywing, Thorybes bathyllus, based on…

Jikradia Olitoria

The description of this species on bugguide.net reads: “variably light brown to grayish or bluish, sometimes yellowish or brownish-yellow”, which I find covers the entire color spectrum pretty well. The females have white stripes on their wings, except when they don’t; the males are generally a uniform color, whatever color they’ve chosen. The nymphs can…

Whirlabout

This dainty little yellow skipper butterfly has one of the neatest names I’ve seen — the whirlabout. Its Latin name is Polites vibex. They live in the southeastern US coastal plains (think Texas – Florida – North Carolina), mostly in sunny, open areas. The caterpillars eat grasses, especially Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass. “Skipper” butterflies…

New Guinea Flatworm

This was a new one on me. I caught it wandering across the bottom of our front door after a rainstorm, and quickly grabbed some photos of the “black worm”. Imagine my surprise when I saw these beady lil eyeballs! Meet Platydemus manokwari, the New Guinea flatworm. Googling it turned up terrifying articles with headlines…