Messua limbata

This darling little brown jumping spider is an adult female Messua limbata, the only species of Messua found in North America. Both males and females are about the same size, 5mm or so, and these spiders range from California to Arizona, as well as “Texas to Mexico”, which apparently also includes Florida. The kind people…

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…

Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies are hard to catch with my usual rig — you have to get very close and most butterflies won’t tolerate that, monarch included. This lovely female monarch (Danaus plexippus) was kind enough to let me try out my new iPhone 12 Pro Max on her — she’ll have to be my representative of an…

Ambiguous Moth

The ambiguous moth! This delightfully-named little moth may well become my spirit animal. About 2cm across, this tiny brown moth, resembling a very small leaf with a rhinoceros horn, is in the family Erebdiae, the litter moths. Litter moths are named because many of their caterpillars feed on dead plant matter. Adults come in a…

Tigrosa annexa (Wolf Spider)

This is a tentative identification, because I can see from the bugguide forums that not everyone is decided on what this species is or even what genus it’s in, but based on “two yellow dashes flanking the median stripe in the cephalic region“, I’m pinning this lovely female wolf spider as Tigrosa annexa. Formerly members…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Fragile Forktail

As a macro photographer, whose gear requires that I get pretty personal with my subjects, I generally have a lot of problems with fast-moving, flighty damselflies. I can’t blame them for not wanting something the approximate same size as a semi truck to get within two inches of them, but it makes photos like this…

Admirable Grasshopper

I can see where this gorgeously striped and spotted green grasshopper got her common name — she is truly an admirable grasshopper! (She must have just molted, her colors are so bright!) Also known as the handsome grasshopper, Syrbula admirabilis is a species of slant-faced grasshopper from the family Acrididae. This individual is about 3.5…

Humpbacked Orbweaver

Humpbacked orbweaver spiders (Eustala anastera) are identified primarily by the little bump on the end of their abdomen (sort of visible in this photo) and by lichen-green coloration (although they also come in orange and rusty brown colors). They are pretty variable, pattern-wise; you can see some of the color variation here. This one has…

Surinam Cockroach

Honestly, living in Florida, I’m surprised I didn’t run into a photographable roach sooner. You are, at this moment, eye to eye with the nymph of a Surinam cockroach, Pycnoscelus surinamensis. She’s adorable, isn’t she? When she’s an adult, she’ll be about 18-25mm long (almost an inch) — right now, she’s about 8mm long. Surinam…

Swift Crab Spider

Crab spiders get their name from their widely-splayed and elongated first two pairs of legs, which they use to catch prey bigger than they are. They do not build webs but wander around and hunt, often in flowers. Wrestling with prey several times their size can damage the spider — this one is missing a…

Pantropical Jumping Spider

I assumed at first this was a wolf spider, Lycosidae sp. I am hesitant to call it a jumping spider because this individual was “huge” — I would have put it at half an inch long — and pantropical jumping spiders seem to max out at 12mm with the females. On the other hand, half…

Stained Glass Moth

This gorgeous little girl (males have big, unique “tufts” along their abdomens) is a stained-glass moth or assembly moth, Samea ecclesialis. These very common moths are notable for being abundant, flying all year round, and for being of “no reported economic importance” (does that phrase bother anyone else?). They range all over North and South…