Dusky-Winged Hover Fly

This fantastic, big-eyed little alien — I really cannot overemphasize how funky this thing looks — is a dusky-winged hover fly, Ocyptamus fuscipennis, a harmless little syrphid fly. I tried to find something else to say about this species, but it’s another Wikipedia stub. Trying to describe “syrphid flies” as a whole gives me so…

Acorn Moth (Blastobasis sp.)

When it comes to miniature (~5mm long, in this case, or 15mm across the open wings) mottled gray and white moths, identification can be tricky. I would have to get very invasive indeed to really, positively identify this little moth — bugguide mentions that “the only sure way to identify this and most other Blastobasidae…

Warrior Beetle (Pasimachus sp.)

These huge black beetles (about 3cm long) are surprising to find. They look formidable, and will bite if pressed, but prefer to run away and hide under things. I found this one under my garbage can. This key at the entomology department of the University of Florida keys this as a Pasimachus floridanus, but bugguide.net…

Sanctanus fasciatus

A charming little mottled yellow, brown and cream leafhopper, native to the southeastern United States and Central America down into northern South America. This could be some other member of Sanctanus — another genus mostly distinguished by tiny differences in genitalia — but it very strongly resembles this individual on bugguide.net. It’s perching on a…

Larger Canna Leafroller / Brazilian Skipper

In my backyard, I have a little cluster of brilliant orange canna lilies. I was admiring them when I noticed that some of the big, flat leaves had a suspiciously chewed look, and some of the edges were rolled over. When I pulled back the rolled-over edges, I found a few of these fat little…

Hag Moth Caterpillar

This one was definitely a “lifer” — approximately 1.5cm long, this wandering, tentacled floofball is the hag moth caterpillar, or “monkey slug”, the larva of the moth Phobetron pithecium. Like many things with inviting, fuzzy backs and adorable tentacles, this caterpillar is venomous — I’m actually having trouble finding out if it’s the tentacles, or…

Lelaps sp. (A Parasitic Wasp)

An unforeseen side-effect of picking up macro photography has been that, every time I turn around, I discover an entirely new universe. Before I started trying to identify my tiny photo subjects, I had absolutely no idea how many of the miscellaneous little black “flies” zooming around were actually tiny, parasitic wasps. And I do…

Blue-ringed Dancer Damselfly

Damselflies are the bane of my existence as a photographer — adorable, striking, expressive, and damn near impossible to identify in the field. They are either identified based on some tiny part which was just out of focus or just out of shot, or they start life as one color and turn other colors as…

Neotropical red-shouldered stink bug

This handsome little green stink bug, with its characteristic red stripe across the top of the scutellum and another red stripe down the snout, is the neotropical red-shouldered stink bug (or red-shouldered stink bug), Thyanta perditor. It’s another Wikipedia stub syndrome victim, alas; it lives in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean and…

Telonaca alta

I find treehoppers to be adorable and desperately want to find one of the ones that looks like a helicopter, or an alien, or…unfortunately, this is the closest I’ve got so far, a charming mottled gray and white fellow with clear wings and a pronotum for days, giving it the appearance of a very, very,…

Smilia fasciata

This handsome little brown treehopper with a brilliant green stripe on its extended pronotum (a feature unique to the Membracidae — er, the extended pronotum, that is, not the green stripe) enjoys hopping around on (and eating the sap of) oak trees, and ranges all over the east coast of the United States. This poor…

Ophiderma definita

This dainty and well-camouflaged treehopper is Ophiderma definita, about 5mm long and suffering, alas, from Wikipedia Stub Syndrome. They “can be found between March and June in the Central and Eastern regions of the United States and Canada”, and…well, now you know exactly as much as I do about them. In general they seem to…

Pelitropis rotulata

This mottled green planthopper, with its distinctive flattened head and oval crossvein pattern on the wing tips, is Pelitropis rotulata, no common name. It is native to the southeastern US (eastern Texas through Florida through Virginia) and Cuba. Nymphs have diagnostic red “tail lights”. It’s a member of the family Tropiduchidae, and…otherwise suffers from Wikipedia…

Two-Lined Spittlebug

This tiny bug resembles a leafhopper but is in fact a closely related species called a froghopper, a kind of spittlebug (named for the foam the juveniles conceal themselves in for defense). Adults are black, usually (but not always) with two red/orange lines crossing their wings, and bright red legs with black feet. They are…

Spiny Oak Slug Moth

This spectacular green spiky caterpillar is the larval form of the spiny oak slug moth. It’s probably Euclea delpihinii, based on comparison to photos on bugguide.net, but there are two virtually identical species of Euclea in my area and this may well be Euclea nanina. I am not yet able to afford the $30,000 reference…

African Fig Fly

This handsome orange fruit fly (or vinegar fly) with its distinctive white “racing stripes” is the African fig fly, Zaprionus indianus. This invasive and destructive species has made its way from its native west Africa through much of India, Europe, and South America, arriving in Florida in 2005. The females lay eggs in overripe fruit,…