I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
- North America (155)
- South America (171)
- Amphibians (10)
- Frogs and Toads (10)
- Arachnids (41)
- Fungi (3)
- Insects (215)
- Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives (44)
- Barklice (1)
- Beetles (27)
- Butterflies and Moths (55)
- Cockroaches (2)
- Dragonflies (1)
- Earwigs (1)
- Flies (20)
- Grasshoppers and Relatives (9)
- Mantids (3)
- Net-winged Insects (7)
- Termites (5)
- Thrips (1)
- True Bugs (57)
- Walkingsticks (1)
- Webspinners (1)
- Mammals (2)
- Millipedes (1)
- Polyxenids (1)
- Plants (3)
- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
All commenters correctly determined that this was a moth:
At the time I took the picture, I assumed this was a butterfly. It acted like a butterfly, being active during the day and the way it held its wings (not folded over the back like many moths).
It was only when reviewing the photo later that I noticed it looked a bit odd for a butterfly. Like many commenters, I noted the lack of clubbed antennae. I didn’t try to identify it, but I remembered it when I read an interesting short article in a recent issue of Natural History magazine. The article was all about day flying moths in the subfamily Dioptinae (family Notodontidae). I emailed the author, James S. Miller, asking if he thought this might be one. Here’s his response:
This challenge will be straightforward. Is this a butterfly or a moth? Why?
Here’s a habitat shot, showing the shot above was taken during the day. The subject above is the yellow speck near the bottom, center right.
I found one other grouping of exuviae in the area where I found the one above. I’ve never seen anything like this locally. I believe these are from lepidopterans. There is a slight layer of silk on the bark. Up close, I saw some cast off head capsules. Look closely above, and you’ll notice a leg that must have broken off while struggling free.
I know some caterpillars are gregarious as early instars, but I thought they generally went their separate ways as final instars. I thought this was interesting evidence that in at least one species, they pupate and perhaps eclose together.
Commenters had no trouble finding the cryptic critter circled above on a partially eaten leaf. No one figured out that it was a caterpillar though, and a rather bizarre one at that. Here’s a closer look.
It does a pretty good job, I think, of blending in with the damaged areas of the other leaves. I suspect the brown leaf areas were damaged by an earlier instar that chews away at the surface of the leaf rather than eating the entire thing. It looks formidable and I didn’t risk touching it. Those black structures are unlike anything I’ve seen on a caterpillar.
Can you find and identify the order of the critter hiding in plain sight above?
As usual, Ted C. MacRae was right on all counts for this challenge:
I thought perhaps the swept-back antenna across the bottom third of the photo might throw people off. Not so.
Here’s a better shot of the katydid which was cooperative enough to allow some good closeups. This should put all the body parts shown above in context.
My sister guessed a dragonfly via a Facebook comment. I can see the resemblance so not a bad guess.
There are a couple of freshly molted treehopper nymphs shown here. Just below them, you can see a shed exoskeleton. Their colors will return as their new skins harden. In the meantime, they inflate themselves so that their new skins harden larger than their previous ones.
Below is an adult that was hanging around a bit farther down the stem. That’s what they’ll eventually look like. You can see how the horn gets bigger with each molt.
This image of a harvestman in the family Gonyleptidae is one of my favorites from my trip to Caraça Natural Park.
As a kid, I cherished my Golden Guide to Spiders and Their Kin. Ever since I saw an illustration therein of a wild looking Gonyleptid, I’ve wanted to find one. I got excited early in the trip when I found a shed skin. On the last night, I was out with my headlamp and I encountered not just one but two!
They were both difficult to photograph. Although slow moving, they just wouldn’t stand still. I had to keep herding them back onto the trail. Eventually, this one stopped in an area that made for a relatively uncluttered background.
Here’s a closeup of an unidentified insect. Can you identify the family to which it belongs and the body parts shown?