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…

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…

Hammerhead Flatworm

This is a shovel-headed garden worm, wandering hammerhead worm, or hammerhead flatworm, Bipalium vagum — technically not a worm like an earthworm, but a land planarian. Planaria actually eat earthworms and other invertebrates. Planaria are way too cool and fascinating for me to get fully into here — check out this site (among others) for…

Clastoptera querci

Spittlebugs are related to leafhoppers and other tiny, hopping insects which suck juices out of plants. Spittlebugs are unique in that they hide in little white frothy clouds of “spit” (hence the name) as nymphs. (It’s not actually spit. It’s actually secreted from the, um, other end of the insect.) Adult spittlebugs do not hide…

Brazilian leafhopper

This glorious little yellow leafhopper, with its brown and white spots, was all of 4mm long, and sitting on the leaf of a sunflower (you can just see the little hairs on the leaf’s surface in the photo), waving gently back and forth in the wind. This did not make it easy to get a…

Lone Star Tick

A horror movie in one sentence: This is the female Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) that bit me on the butt while I was minding my own business in bed! Fortunately, she didn’t have a lot of time with me; she did not have enough time to get engorged. Lone Star ticks (named after the…

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…

Tumbling Flower Beetle

This beetle is so tiny (approximately 2-3mm long) that I wasn’t even sure it was an insect when I snapped its photo. This minuscule insect is a tumbling flower beetle, or pintail beetle, in the family Mordellidae. These beetles all share the long, pointed abdomen extending past the elytra, the bent-over posture with the angle…

Harmostes Serratus

Harmostes serratus is distinguished from other North American species in the genus by the toothed (serrated) edges of the pronotum (the bit behind the head). This little dude is in the family Rhopalidae, known as “scentless plant bugs” because, although these insects look like and are (distantly) related to stink bugs, they are not actually…

Grass Tubeworm Moth

Another in the unexpectedly immense category of “little brown moths”, Acrolophus arcanella has some neat geometric patterns and — well, I’m sure that real entomologists don’t call it a “pompadour”, but it’s a neat little lion’s mane of fluffy scales on the back of the head and “shoulders”. The name Acrolophus actually comes from the…

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…

Saddleback Caterpillar

This spectacular fellow is the saddleback caterpillar, Acharia stimulea. It is named for that bright green “saddle” on its abdomen, but its most notable feature is the four tubercles (one on each “corner”), each featuring some serious-looking, spiky armament. The sharp spines on those tubercles are venomous, and will break off in your skin if…

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…

Scaphytopius Elegans

A beautiful little leafhopper with, alas, no common name, Scaphytopius elegans can be found all over the southern US, from Californa to Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. Adults are pale reddish brown with a wide cream or yellow midline stripe, striped eyes, a pale transverse stripe with black borders crossing the “nose” and going through…