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…

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…

Graceful Twig Ant

I’d been sitting on the above photo for a while, because the insect in it was winged; I seriously thought it was a wasp, but couldn’t find an exact match for species no matter how hard I tried. There was always something just not quite right. A couple days later, I was looking up some…

Calligrapha Beetle

Why is there not more written about this family of darling little beetles? Something like 80 species and subspecies of leaf beetles in the genus Calligrapha roam from Canada to Argentina, each one uniquely striped, splashed, or spotted black against a vividly colored, often red, green, or gold, background. They are sometimes pestiferous and their…

Laughing Gull

Laughing gulls are found on coasts in Florida and all over Central America, primarily on the Atlantic side. They are diurnal, but will forage at night during the breeding season when extra food is required for young. They walk or glide up and down the beach, looking for crabs, fish, carrion, human leftovers, and anything…