Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus carolina)

I think this is where I have to admit I have a problem. I was hanging around in the backyard, waiting for our dog do what she does best, and noticed that one of our local anole lizards had passed on. I knelt down to look, and saw that it was swarming with ants. “Oooh,…

Shining Leaf Chafer Beetle

Oh dear — another glorious little beetle who has been formally named, and then abandoned, a series of tiny stub articles on Wikipedia and not even mentioned in the Britannica article on shining leaf chafer beetles. I understand that even if 50% of the human population each picked a species of beetle and spent their…

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…

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…

Diaprepes Root Weevil

The gloriously iridescent diaprepes root weevil (Diaprepes abbreviatus) is, of course, an invasive species (native to the Caribbean) that infests crops — citrus, to be precise — and is therefore a pest, etc., etc. (I get so tired of reading that under every insect description! It’s not the weevil’s fault that it likes all the…

Southeastern Five-Lined Skink

The southeastern five-lined skink lives, as one might expect, all over the southeastern United States. It looks a great deal like the American five-lined skink, Plestiodon fasciatus, but based on geographic range (this individual was found in central Florida) this is more likely the southeastern than the American five-lined skink. The scientific name “inexpectatus“, which…

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…