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…

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,…

Oak Treehopper

I love treehoppers, and it was a delightful treat to find this brilliantly-colored white one with bright red eyes, orange and black stripes, and a prominent horn. The oak treehopper (Platycotis vittata) is generally about 8-9 mm long, not including the horn, which doesn’t seem to be related to the insect’s gender, and indeed may…

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…

Coffee-Loving Pyrausta Moth

This red and gold crambid moth has some individual variation to its gold-stripes-on-red pattern, but I find most of them look a lot like a smiling jack-o-lantern! You can probably guess by the common name, coffee-loving pyrausta moth, what the larvae of this moth enjoy eating most — wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa. Pyrausta tyralis lives…

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth

A cousin to the eastern tent caterpillar, the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) doesn’t actually make tents; instead, it constructs silken mats along tree trunks and branches. Like its cousin, however, it also congregates in large numbers and the mats can be just as unsightly and large as the tents. The caterpillars are harmless to…

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…

Cottonwood Leaf Beetle

Meet the cottonwood leaf beetle, Chrysomela scripta. These charming little beetles are about 6mm long. They are red, orange or yellow with black spots/broken black lines on the elytra, and a reddish or yellow margin on the thorax. Both adults and larvae really love leaves, to the point of skeletonizing them, and are serious defoliators…

Spiny Orb Weaver

You can tell that a lot of people notice this brightly-colored, distinctive spider in their gardens, as it’s collected so many common names: spiny orb weaver, jewel spider, spiny-bellied orbweaver, kite spider, jewel box spider, smiley face spider, crab spider, crablike spiny orbweaver. Good heavens. The Latin name means roughly “thorn-belly” (Gasteracantha) and “crab shaped”…

Love Bug

If you live in the Gulf Coast, especially Florida, you’ve heard of the “love bug” (Plecia nearctica). They are small, relatively inoffensive flies, but due to their habit of locking together during reproduction (causing the joined pair to fly very erratically and slowly right around bumper-level), during their most amorous times of year they seem…

Pine Woods Snake

When I moved my trash can to drag it to the curb, the biggest worm I had ever seen, ever was hiding underneath it! When I looked closer, the “worm” was actually a gorgeous pine woods snake, Rhadinaea flavilata. (Alternate names include the yellow-lipped snake and brown-headed snake.) Like most snakes, this one didn’t want…

Graceful Twig Ant

I’d been sitting on the above photo for a while, because the insect in it was winged; I seriously thought it was a wasp, but couldn’t find an exact match for species no matter how hard I tried. There was always something just not quite right. A couple days later, I was looking up some…

Palpada Pusilla

Another fly with no common name. Do I make a “hoverfly” page which will eventually have 6,000+ photos in it, or a separate page for each species of hoverfly? Decisions, decisions. Meet Palpada pusilla, a fly in the family Syrphidae. Syrphid flies, (or flower flies, or hoverflies), are generally beneficial pollinators as adults, eating primarily…

Mydas Fly

I thought I’d snuck a photo of a wasp (most wasps are not tolerant enough to let my camera get close) until I got the photos home and had a better look. This 35mm long insect is a wasp mimic — a clever fly which makes its living by looking like something much pointier and…

Metacyrba Punctata

I’ve been told that, when a species does not have a common name, I should give it one. This little fellow deserves one, don’t you think? This handsome Metacyrba punctata jumping spider was wandering around on my garage door when I spotted him. He gave me a few choice leg gestures (“Go away! I’m busy!”)…