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…

Bellyache Bush

This strange little plant, with a woody stem and three-lobed leaves which are red when new and turn green with age, has been popping up in my backyard. Out of curiosity, I googled it, and found it hiding in a forum post on Dave’s Garden: this is Jatropha gossypiifolia, also known as the bellyache bush,…

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…

Admestina tibialis

These unspeakably small (~3mm) jumping spiders are full grown! and unimaginably cute. Without looking through the camera’s macro lens, I can only barely tell there is a small moving speck on the wooden boardwalk rail — I cannot imagine locating one of these on, say, tree bark. Despite being adorable, these poor things suffer from…

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…

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,…

Homaemus proteus

Meet one of five species of shield-backed bugs in the genus Homaemus: this is Homaemus proteus, notable for those two lovely spots on its scutellum (although not all individuals have the spots, and some have much bigger spots — I wonder if this might be a nymph rather than a color morph, but this is…

Mexican Paper Wasp

Meet Mischocyttarus mexicanus, the Mexican paper wasp. This eusocial species has actually been extensively studied, because individual wasps employ different reproductive strategies over their lifetime, including nesting individually and as a colony, brood parasitism (with unrelated conspecifics) and usurpation. This “reproductive generalization” is unusual behavior. M. mexicanus can be found all over the southern United…

Acutalis tartarea (Treehopper)

This strange little beastie does not have a common name, alas, although I’ve seen it on Project Noah as “Black-veined treehopper”, which works. It is notable for its bright green abdomen, black “painted” lines along the wing veins, partially clear wings, and a wide, dark brown “stripe” on the pronotum. The pattern of coloration varies…