Black Stink Bug

This is the black stink bug, Proxys punctulatus, a relatively benign insect found over most of the southern US and down into the Carribbean. It’s about 12mm long, black, with spotted black and cream legs, with a long, pointy face, banded antennae, and a black body with a single white spot in the middle. Like…

Water Lily Planthopper

Meet the water lily planthopper, Megamelus davisi. Despite appearances, this atomic-scale little being (5mm long) is fully grown, and the “shrek ears” are what his/her antennae normally look like. Unlike most planthoppers, this one does not have wings, just the body plates that would protect the wings if they were there. This makes it look…

Green Leafhopper

The common green leafhopper, Hortensia similis, hitching a ride on my yellow kayak. …and that’s about all I can find about this insect online. It’s about 5-10 mm long. It may eat citrus plants or rice seedlings. It’s a relative of the cicada, and it’s part of the subfamily Cicadellinae, or sharpshooters, which refers to…

Cotton Stainer

This brilliant red and black insect looks a lot like a red stink bug. It is in fact a “cotton stainer”, Dysdercus suturellus. These insects used to be great pests of cotton (they were named for their habit of staining cotton an indelible yellow brown), but now, due in part to improved pest control and…

Shieldbacked Pine Seed Bug

You would think narrowing down an identification to “shield bug” would have you almost done, wouldn’t you? Man, that doesn’t even narrow it down to family. It was ridiculous trying to get this handsome little guy down from “bug” to “stink bug” (nope) to “soldier bug” (nope) to “shield bug” (nope) to “shieldbacked bug” (at…

Florida Leaf-Footed Bug

This is probably an adult female Florida leaf-footed bug (Acanthocephala femorata) — this species is named for the exaggerated “femurs” on its back legs, and the femurs are larger in the male, with impressive spikes. She’s about an inch long, not including her antennae. Leaf-footed bugs are named after the “leafy” extensions of their hind…

Milkweed Assassin Bug

A handsome milkweed assassin bug (Zelus longipes), wandering along one of the tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No 1 in New Orleans. These brightly-colored, long-legged insects are ambush hunters, believe it or not, which stroll idly along foliage, reaching out to grasp prey with their front legs. Most species of Zelus seem to be cryptically…