Four-Spotted Aphid Fly

This lovely little syrphid fly, with the distinctive white spots on a dark abdomen, has a couple of common names: four-spotted hover fly, four-speckled aphid fly, and various combinations thereof. Its Latin name is Dioprosopa clavata. Its body shape and coloration somewhat mimic that of a wasp, but this fly is harmless to humans and…

Australian Cockroach

This juvenile male Australian cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae) is probably one molt shy of being a handsome adult like this one. He’s quite peeved that I’ve caught him in a clear plastic drink cup, so I could get him out of my kitchen and back into the world, where he is one of the many vitally…

Spartocera fusca

This large and strikingly marked leaf-footed bug (family Coreidae) is Spartocera fusca. The lack of common name is pretty criminal for this strikingly marked orange and black species that’s almost 3 cm long. S. fusca is native to “Mexico, the southwestern United States, and Florida”, because everything makes its way to Florida eventually. It eats…

Chionomus quadrispinosus

This handsome black, brown and white planthopper with clear wings is Chionomus quadrispinosus, no common name. The “thumblike” antennae (such a little alien, isn’t it?) and the spur on the hind leg mark it as a member of the family Delphacidae, the largest family of planthoppers. Someone has carefully photographed each of the 14 members…

Coastal Plain Meganola Moth

This darling little moth is a coastal plain meganola moth, Meganola phylla. It is native to eastern and southeastern North America. The larvae feed on Quercus species (oak trees). Unfortunately, this is another of the many, many species where a bunch of stubby little internet articles all quote one another. At least it photographs well….

Horned Spanworm Moth

This strange, “dragon” shaped caterpillar has eversible tentacles extending from the top of two of the central sections of its body. In the above photo, they are in the “relaxed” configuration, but, when the caterpillar is startled, it can extend its tentacles to 2x their resting length. The adult moths are varying shades and patterns…

White-Spotted Arvelius

This sad-eyed little green and yellow alien is a white-spotted arvelius, or tomato stink bug, Arvelius albopunctatus. It’s honestly a little spectacular — about 2cm long, brilliant green, with yellow “shoulders” yellow and black spots, and a black striped face — which makes it sad that it has Wikipedia Stub Syndrome (or, actually, doesn’t even…

Split-eyed Owlfly (Ululodes sp.)

I thought this insect was a badly mangled dragonfly at first, one that was in the process of being sucked into a spider’s lair. You’re looking down at this insect — i.e., its right side is pointed upwards, its top is pointed sideways, and its legs are wrapped around a piece of wood in a…

Atlantic Bluet

Meet the Atlantic Bluet (either an immature male or a female, alas, the end of its abdomen is not quite in focus enough for my inexperienced eyeballs to tell), a narrow-winged damselfly found in the Caribbean and North America. Males are a beautiful bright blue, which may be related to the name “bluet”. This genus,…

Mexican Cactus Fly

This huge, imposing (and absolutely harmless to humans) big, black fly is the Mexican cactus fly (or Mexican flower fly), Copestylum mexicanum. It is named because the larvae feed on rotting cacti (and the adults, as you might guess from the above photo, visit flowers). This individual is about 13-15 mm long, a very big…

Chrysopodes collaris (Lacewing)

This lovely little green lacewing is Chrysopodes collaris, no common name, local to coastal Texas and southern Florida down into Central America. (This describes 90% of species found in Florida….) “The red lineations on the clypeus [above and between the mouthparts] are a highly unique trait among all Chrysopidae in our area”, according to bugguide….

Compact Carpenter Ant

This handsome large, red ant is native to Central America but has been, like so many other species, introduced to Florida and is slowly making its way into Texas. There are a lot of pages purporting to be about the compact carpenter ant, Campnotus planatus, but despite this it still suffers from Wikipedia Stub Syndrome,…

Neoclytus mucronatus

Alas, this gorgeous beetle (Latin name Neoclytus mucronatus) does not have a common name. It’s a longhorn beetle, but that really doesn’t narrow it down past the family (Cerambycidae). A bunch of its cousins have common names like “ash borer”, but this doesn’t. What this beetle needs to be called is a wasp-mimic beetle, because,…

Exasperating Platynota

There are times I wish I could be a fly on the wall at whatever entomologists’ meeting spawned an insect’s unusual name. This is one such time. I would love to hear the story behind the common name of the “exasperating platynota moth”, Platynota exasperatana. It’s the only notable name in a family full of…

Ornate Bella Moth

The most common name for this moth (Utetheisa ornatrix) seems to be the ornate bella moth, but my favorite is “rattlebox moth”. Apparently there’s a whole family of plants (Crotalaria) which produce seed pods that rattle if shaken, and this little moth loves to eat them. Crotalaria contain alkaloids which make the moths, and their…

Buren’s Pyramid Ant

Another lovely insect whose descriptions online are just stubs of articles. The “remarks” on the Dorymyrmex bureni page on bugguide mention that this ant is not considered a nuisance species as it happens not to shoot formic acid (as do some formicine ants). What a ringing recommendation. They’re brown, they like sandy areas, and they…