Casemaking Clothes Moth

To get a sense of how tiny this moth is, it’s sitting on my window screen. The whole moth is perhaps 3mm long. The casemaking clothes moth gets its common name from its behavior — its larvae, which look like regular caterpillars, form flattened cases for themselves out of whatever’s handy, and primarily eat fibrous…

Collared Ground Cricket

I am somewhat nervous about this identification. The collared ground cricket (Neonemobius nr. mormonius) which is found in Florida may or may not be the same species as the geographically separate mormon ground cricket (Neonemobius mormonius), which lives in the western US. All I can say is that this dainty little (probably juvenile) girl is…

Surinam Cockroach

Honestly, living in Florida, I’m surprised I didn’t run into a photographable roach sooner. You are, at this moment, eye to eye with the nymph of a Surinam cockroach, Pycnoscelus surinamensis. She’s adorable, isn’t she? When she’s an adult, she’ll be about 18-25mm long (almost an inch) — right now, she’s about 8mm long. Surinam…

Hamataliwa Grisea

Admission time here: I used to think that jumping spiders were the epitome of cuteness, but that was before I met my first lynx spider. This is Hamataliwa grisea, a tiny (1cm) lynx spider which suffers from a scandalous lack of common name. Bugguide.net contributors have called it a “bark lynx spider” and “not a…

Salvinia Stem-Borer

A small (1cm) white and brown mottled moth with an astonishingly close resemblance to its cousin, S. ecclesialis, the Salvinia stem-borer feeds on many types of aquatic plants, including water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and, of course, Salvinia rotundfolia, a water fern. Since its caterpillars can do a lot of damage to those plants, even to…

Three Spotted Skipper

Who knew? — searching for “small brown butterfly” is just as frustrating as searching for “small brown moth”. This particular small brown butterfly happens to be a three-spotted skipper, Cymaenes tripunctus, a grass skipper in the butterfly family Hesperiidae. It lives all over the Caribbean, and of course Florida because everything lives here. “Skipper” type…

Belfrage’s Plume Moth

Plume moths (family Pterophoridae, which includes several genera) share this striking resting position, where the forewings are extended laterally and tightly closed up. (Open, the forewings have several bedraggled, feathery bristles beneath.) Various Pterophorids are pests of crops like artichokes and of ornamental plants; some are used for biological control of invasive plant species. These…

Asian Tramp Snail

Another of Florida’s fine examples of invasive, destructive wildlife, this petite (13mm) snail originated in Southeast Asia but has spread to many additional places, including Taiwan, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and Eastern Australia. It eats live plants, especially growing vegetables or crops, making them a pest for gardeners and farmers. Asian tramp snails are…

Acrobat Ant

I love encountering entirely new species! I had never heard of an acrobat ant before I got a photo of this little (3mm!) lady. Acrobat ants get their name from their ability to raise their abdomen over their thorax and head when disturbed (you can kind of see this one lifting her butt at me…

Asiatic Garden Beetle

This 8mm long brownish scarab beetle is the Asiatic garden beetle (Maladera castanea). It is native to East Asia, but has established itself through most of the eastern United States as well. (Of interesting note is that it took nearly 100 years from first being spotted in New York to make its way down to…

Striated Lichen Moth

You’d think there’d be pages and pages written on this glorious little orange and black fellow, but no: Wikipedia has three whole sentences on the striated lichen moth (Cisthene striata). They’re about 10mm long, and differentiated from a number of similarly patterned species by the light gray stripes on the forewings. The Peterson Field Guide…

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…

Drain Fly

These tiny “pests” — really harmless, nonbiting flies, but “pests” because they have no shame whatsoever in invading human bathrooms — seek water and dampness in drains, sewers, bathrooms, kitchens, and other human places. They can be annoying en masse — but I think they’re gorgeous singly and up close! Its wings are iridescent, look!…

Stained Glass Moth

This gorgeous little girl (males have big, unique “tufts” along their abdomens) is a stained-glass moth or assembly moth, Samea ecclesialis. These very common moths are notable for being abundant, flying all year round, and for being of “no reported economic importance” (does that phrase bother anyone else?). They range all over North and South…

Root Maggot Fly

This is one of those species where the scientific web sites say almost nothing, other than to argue over semantics and exactly who named the insect last, and the pest control sites have a lot to say. (What can I say, nobody seems to want to write a PhD thesis on small, feces-eating flies.) As…

Ailanthus Webworm Moth

This tiny (1 cm) day-flying moth is actually native to Florida (so it’s funny I found this one in Indiana). The moth’s larvae used to live almost exclusively on the paradise tree (Simarouba glauca) in Florida, but when the “tree of heaven” (Ailanthus altissima) was introduced to the US from China, the ailanthus webworm moth…