Crab Spider (Mecaphesa sp.)

One of the pitfalls of the identification of tiny things is that, eventually, you get a pile of things you can’t tell apart without dissecting them putting them under a microscope. Crab spiders are one such group. There are 18 species of crab spider in the genus Mecaphesa in North America, and — well, not…

Oak Treehopper

I love treehoppers, and it was a delightful treat to find this brilliantly-colored white one with bright red eyes, orange and black stripes, and a prominent horn. The oak treehopper (Platycotis vittata) is generally about 8-9 mm long, not including the horn, which doesn’t seem to be related to the insect’s gender, and indeed may…

Green Lynx Spider

The green lynx (Peucetia viridans) is a gorgeous, brilliant green spider commonly found on shrub-like plants all over the southern U.S. It is the largest North American lynx spider. Spiders in the family Oxiopidae are fast-moving diurnal predators which do not construct webs; they use webbing mostly as as safety draglines when they move. They…

Brown-Winged Striped Sweat Bee

The brown-winged striped sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) is another victim of Extremely Obvious Naming; it’s unfortunate that this gorgeous, metallic green bee has such a boring name. This is actually a male A. splendens; the abdomens of females are metallic green, and their tibia are furry. Sweat bees (family Halictidae) come in a huge variety…

Attidops cinctipes (Jumping Spider)

The minuscule size of this spider is difficult to convey — I thought it was a lint ball until it moved and tried to pounce on a springtail (which was bigger than it was, to give you an idea of scale). Attidops cinctipes, no common name, is a well-camouflaged and extremely tiny jumping spider which…

Stimulopalpus japonicus (Bark Louse)

This insect was so tiny in person that I was not entirely sure it was an insect. My eyes could only pick up a small, moving white dot. Once “blown up” through the camera lens, I saw…what was that? It looks kind of like a baby grasshopper or cricket, except the legs are wrong for…

Eastern Eyed Click Beetle

This huge (~5cm) black beetle, with its distinctive black and white eyespots, is commonly referred to as the big-eyed click beetle or eastern eyed click beetle for what I hope are obvious reasons. It is also known as the eyed elater. The Latin name is Alaus oculatus. “Click” beetles have have a spinelike structure on…

Green Hoverfly

This shiny little marble is an adult female Ornidia obesa (most likely)…a green hover fly, or syrphid fly. (Like horse flies, female green hover flies have widely separated eyes while males have contiguous eyes, giving them a wrap-around sunglasses look.) I find these little things charming, and they’re apparently fearless: this one hung around to…

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,…

Sweetpotato Armyworm Moth

Meet the sweetpotato armyworm caterpillar, a reasonably common backyard denizen in the southeastern US, Central and South America. This particular fat little bugger had an uninterrupted evening eating the only one of my sunflowers to successfully bloom, and was not gracious at all when I pulled it off my sunflower and set it on the…

Squirrel Tree Frog

At about 3.5 cm long, I thought this was a juvenile green tree frog, but upon getting a better look at the photo (this individual was hiding under an informational sign and was difficult to see without the camera), I am pretty sure this is a squirrel tree frog (Hyla squirrella). Most tree frogs seem…

Asian Lady Beetle

I grew up calling these “ladybugs”, too, but, technically, Harmonia axyridis, and other lady beetles, are not true bugs. H. axyridis, also known as the harlequin lady beetle, Halloween lady beetle, Asian lady beetle, or multicolored Asian ladybeetle, is native to eastern Asia, but was introduced to Europe and North America in order to control…

Hieroglyphic Cicada

Due to some unfortunate misadventures in my youth, I’m generally avoidant of cicadas, even knowing that they are harmless. The hieroglyphic cicada (Neocicada hieroglyphica), at only 32mm long, is smaller than the cicadas I remember hatching in jars when I was younger (only to be dive-bombed by the resulting angry adults when I tried to…

American Green Tree Frog

It’s so nice to see a native frog species! (I love Cuban tree frogs, but they’re invasive and eat gorgeous native frogs like this.) This is an American green tree frog, Dryophytes cinereus, about 6cm long and actually native to Florida. American “green” tree frogs actually come in all sorts of colors, from yellow-olive to…

Puss Caterpillar

The distinctive, furry, yellow puss caterpillar is actually the larva of the equally distinctive, furry, yellow southern flannel moth, Megalopyge opercularis. The adult moths are lovely, cuddly-looking things, yellow and cream, with big soft wings and fluffy abdomens. The caterpillars are equally cuddly looking, but the soft yellow setae (hairs) on their body are interspersed…

Palm Flatid Planthopper

Having gotten a camera that can make these little insects visible, I’ve decided that I love planthoppers. They look like tiny, perpetually-startled, neon aliens. The palm flatid planthopper, Ormenaria rufifascia, is a charming, Muppet-faced, bright green species, with bright orange and blue stripes on its head. Adults are relatively big for hoppers, about 11mm in…