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…

Pennsylvania Flea Beetle

Flea beetles (as you may guess after seeing those big, folded, hoppy hind legs) are known for their prodigious jump. In general, they aggravate gardeners by making holes in leaves. This particular species, the Pennsylvania flea beetle (Disonycha pensylvanica) however, prefers wetland areas and not eating human crops. This ~5mm beetle has a black head,…

Melanoliarus sp. Planthopper

It’s hard to tell scale in macro photography, but this planthopper was relatively huge — almost 1 cm — and was very patient while I got some gorgeous photos. Melanoliarus has about 48 species in North America, and they can only be firmly identified by looking at the genitals of the males, so Melanoliarus sp….

Tree Cattle (Cerastipsocus venosus)

These delicate, ephemeral little black “flies”, about 6-8mm long, are actually bark lice — Cerastipsocus venosus — with the appallingly banal common name of tree cattle. (They actually share this common name with a number of other species of bark lice.) Both adults and nymphs of C. venosus form crazy-large groups (like herds of cattle,…

Myrmex Floridanus

This handsome little black weevil (about 5mm long), with white setae and a white stripe along the outer edge of the elytra is Myrmex floridanus, without a common name. As you may guess from the lack of a common name, this poor little dude has Wikipedia Stub Syndrome. Weevils in general are vegetarians, sometimes to…

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…

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,…

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…

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

This is Florida’s state butterfly! A lovely and distinctive black butterfly with narrow yellow stripes on its elongated wings, the zebra longwing (also known as the zebra heliconian) is native to peninsular Florida and south Texas in the US (sometimes migrating into states further northward). They also live all over South and Central America. Heliconius…

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…

Oak Leaf Rolling Weevil

Meet Homoeolabus analis, the oak leaf rolling weevil! These attractive little weevils (I love weevils) with black bodies and red elytra are named for their habit of rolling up oak leaves (a process called nidification — the rolls themselves are called nidi, singular: nidus) to protect their eggs and larvae. It’s actually a pretty complex…

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

A common and striking yellow and black butterfly seen across the eastern United States, this is the eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. It’s a male, because its hindwings have almost no blue — in females, there are big blue patches right above the black parts on the hindwings. Females are actually dimorphic, and have two…

Drab Brown Wave Moth

If you squint, you can just about see the concentric lines on this moth’s wings which sort of resemble waves lapping at a sandy beach. Other “wave moths” have much more distinct waves-on-a-beach markings — it’s just my luck I found the only one that looks like cookies ‘n’ cream. The drab brown wave moth…

Black Stink Bug

This is the black stink bug, Proxys punctulatus, a relatively benign insect found over most of the southern US and down into the Carribbean. It’s about 12mm long, black, with spotted black and cream legs, with a long, pointy face, banded antennae, and a black body with a single white spot in the middle. Like…

Sylvan Jumping Spider

A new species for me — this tiny dude (females are light brown) was off the marked path and I was unable to get closer, but he was at least kind enough to sit and stare at me long enough for me to get some photos. This is a sylvan jumping spider. Alas, both Colonus…

Yellow Fever Mosquito

Mosquitoes love me; I loathe mosquitoes. I don’t get a lot of photos of them, because if I venture out of my house I must be coated in an inch-thick layer of DEET to repel them. I try to maintain an indifferent, if not affectionate, attitude toward bothersome, scary, or venomous species, but — and…