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Identification Challenge #14

March 24, 2012 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Today I found my first moth in the overwintering container I keep outside. Can you identify it from this wing fragment? I’ll keep the comments hidden for awhile, but this should be an easy one.

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Identification Challenge #13 Reveal: Spotted Apatelodes Proleg

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar | October 2, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.

Proleg closeup

Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.

Proleg showing crochets in two different sizes

All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above. read more

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Identification Challenge #13

October 2, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Despite appearances, I promise this is not an underwater shot of some strange anemone. I brought this critter home from a recent walk in the park.

This could be a difficult challenge. Nonetheless, I bet someone will be able to identify the species shown here. To give you some sense of scale, I had my 65mm macro lens maxed out at 5x for this shot.

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Lacewing Eggs Comparison

9mm high | July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I assume these are hatched lacewing eggs, though I think there are other critters that lay stalked eggs as well. What I found interesting was how long the stalks are relative to the eggs. The lacewing eggs I usually find have relatively shorter stalks. Compare the hatched ones above with some unhatched ones below that I found in a park close to home.

5mm high | August 27, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Searching around the internet I see two common explanations for why eggs are laid on stalks. First, the stalks make it more difficult for predators such as ants to reach the eggs. The stalks are sometimes even coated with a repellent substance. Second, lacewing larvae are cannibalistic and the stalks serve to keep keep newly hatched larvae away from each other. read more

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Identification Challenge #6 Reveal

As I suspected, this challenge was easily met by all commenters.

October 8, 2009 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

It is of course Arilus cristatus, commonly known as the wheel bug for the very structure shown above. I didn’t get a full body shot of this specimen, but here’s a wider view.

Facing opposite direction from the previous image

Among the largest assassin bugs in North America, they can deliver a painful stab with that beak. I foolishly held one when I was a kid, and I’ll not be making that mistake twice.

For more info, see the species info page at BugGuide.

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Identification Challenge #6

Now that Alex Wild has posted about my identification challenges (among others), I feel obligated to do another one.

October 8, 2009 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Here’s a closeup of a rather distinctive part of an easily recognized critter. Can you name it?

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Identification Challenge #4 Reveal

As Ted C. MacRae correctly guessed, the chrysalis in the latest identification challenge yielded a specimen of Papilio glaucus, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

April 25, 2010 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

The blue on the upperside of the hindwings indicates this is a female. Here’s the underside of the wings:

Underside of wings

If I’d had some daylight, I’d have tried to get something other than a black background. I saw she had emerged after arriving home one evening though, so I took these shots in my home office before releasing her.

Being a fresh specimen, I thought I’d try for some closeups of the wing scales. read more

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Identification Challenge #4

October 8, 2009

Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

I spotted this chrysalis on a tree trunk (looks like some sort of cherry). You can see in the first photo that it blends in pretty well. I took it home to see what would emerge. Something did, late the following April. Any ideas what it was?

This probably won’t help, but I couldn’t resist posting a closeup.

Closeup of spiracles

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Gold Moth Caterpillar on Wingstem

October 8, 2009 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

I found this caterpillar last fall. It was munching away on the flowers of what I believe to be wingstem. The plant was growing beside a walking trail at a forest edge.

Here are a couple of other views.


Dorsal View

I’m basing the identification on similar photos of Basilodes pepita on BugGuide and in Wagner.

I like the bold colors. Wagner states that the combination of colors, behavior and foodplant suggest it might be unpalatable.


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Identification Challenge #3 Reveal

Chris Grinter agrees with me that this photo is of a sawfly in the genus Dimorphopteryx.

June 6, 2010 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

I first saw some photos of similar sawflies in this book:


I then found some images on BugGuide.

It really is an odd looking critter. If I’d instead shown this view, it would have been more obvious, I think, that it’s a sawfly.

Side view

Here you can see the horns just behind the head.

Closeup of head

Marshall reports that the “tubercle behind the head is eversible, and sticks out like a snake’s tongue when the insect is disturbed.” Cool. I wish I’d known that when I encountered it. I would have tried to coax it into displaying that behavior. read more

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