Category: asks

I have a question about wasps. There’s a nest right in front of my front door, and while I can respect that they’re just living their little waspy lives, my dad is highly highly allergic to all stinging insects, so we need them to pick somewhere besides my front door to live. They’re free to go about their waspy business, but they need to do so elsewhere. My dad is going to land himself in the hospital trying to get rid of them. Is there a way to relocate them / make them pick a new home?

Best way: from a very far distance, spray the nest down with a hose. You can spray the downed nest away from your front door since the wasps will probably swarm around it for a while. They will rebuild somewhere else, most likely under the eaves of your house again, but hopefully not by your door!

Hope this helps!

July 30, 2019

Could I join your tumblr iNat group? I'm super new to it so I get the basic gist but I'm still pretty inexperienced, my user is exactly the same as it is here

YES, I just added you. WELCOME!

For those not in the know, iNaturalist is awesome, and is how I taught myself everything I know about insects. I’m not joking, I’m not exaggerating. I’m serious.

I have been super bad about keeping up with it (because life, and mental health, and then losing my job and being unemployed forever, etc), but I DID start a group on iNaturalist for us tumblr peeps to support each other and learn to use the site. 

iNatters of tumblr [link to iNat Project page]

There are some silly little logistical issues with the project. I have the project set up so that once you are in, every observation you have ever posted, even if you already have an iNaturalist account! will be part of the group! And obviously, every observation you make in the future will be included as well, automatically

But, I have to manually add everybody who wants to join. You can send me a DM or an ask here (comments on posts may or may get lost in the madness of tumblr, so contacting me directly is better). OR, you can send me a message on iNat. If you are a new user, you need to create observations because you have the ability to send messages now (they just rolled out that feature to deal with spammers).

If you want to have your observations linked directly to the group page, and want to be notified when I finally start posting to the group again (lol), then you’ll want to “join” the group. But! Your observations will still be included in the group as long as you are in the list! Let me show you:

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This is the banner of the group. In the top right corner, there is a join button. Click it! That means you have followed the group, and if I have added you as a member of the group, your observations will link to the group page.

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Here is an observation page that is linked to the group! This user is both a member of the group and has “joined” the group, which allows the project to be linked to the page (I know it sounds confusing, SORRY).

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If you scroll down past the fun photos towards the bottom of the group page, you will see the project requirements. I am the group admin, so I set the project requirements. And I’ve set the requirements to be, any observations made by any people on the list, at any time, at any place, of any thing. But, the only way to get on the list, i for me to manually add you! Joining the group by clicking the button at the top of the page will not actually make your observations become part of the project.

If you are not on the list above and thought you were (sorry!), just let me know and I’ll add you! Want to join? Tell me your iNat user name and I’ll add you! There are no requirements to join! The whole point is to have fun, help out each other with IDs, have a network of people to ask questions to (you can send messages to people in iNat! INCLUDING ME! You can @ people in iNat and ask for ID help, INCLUDING ME!)

The group page has a post going over how to upload observations with the app in the news section. I haven’t done one for the web version of the site, but it’s a lot more straightforward, which is why I haven’t prioritized it. If anybody EVER has any questions about how to use iNat, feel free to ask me questions over there, or over here!

July 11, 2019

Great blog. Can I get a gift too?

*gasp!*

ASK FOR GIFT?!?! RUDE!

NO INSECT!!! ONLY

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WORM

j/k thnx ilu2 <3

July 9, 2019

Great blog. Can I get a gift too?

*gasp!*

ASK FOR GIFT?!?! RUDE!

NO INSECT!!! ONLY

image

WORM

j/k thnx ilu2 <3

July 9, 2019

Awesome blog

Thank. Please accept this gift:

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Metallic Wood-boring Beetle (Family Buprestidae) from Val Verde County, Texas

July 8, 2019

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@hunteno64​ submitted:

So I just got out of an interview, and I see this QT. Any idea and what they are?

Why yes, I do. Looks like your bab was fixing to molt, so he appears a little unusual, but still easily identifiable. This was actually one I learned when I was a little kid, and was quite pleased with knowing as the smart-ass 7-year-old I was back in the day, although I didn’t know there was more than one species of these then

Here’s a sibling of your friend from my yard. Look at those cute little legs! His face is that TINY little thing at the very end at the front. He is a larva. When he pupates, he will look like this:

You can see his old baby clothes around the base of his pupa where it connects to the grass. And when he emerges as an adult, you will probably recognize him!

Your friend is specifically an Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis. These can look quite variable, especially depending on where you live (in Texas, there are some that are BLACK with RED SPOTS, or GRAY with BLACK spots!). Most places, they are red or orange with black spots… or with no spots at all! In MOST places, the easiest way to identify them is by looking at their pronotum–the shield that covers their thorax. In the red varieties, it will be white with a black “W.” The other species of lady beetles (and there are SO MANY OF THEM!!!” will have different patterns there, and typically have a specific pattern of spots!

After this photo, though? You get these:

They have fun eggs! If you see a ton of lady beetles, it means there are lots of tasty aphids (and other plant-parasitic insects) around. And that usually means there is a lack of biodiversity somewhere, which allows the plant parasites to flourish. I get a huge swarm of lady beetles whenever the invasive grasses pop up in my yard. But that also meant plenty of opportunities to watch their larvae grow up and emerge from their pupae!

Thanks for asking!

July 8, 2019

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@dragonseekerart submitted:

Sorry, not the best pictures my camera didn’t want to focus… I found this little guy in the pool in my backyard, so you know what he is? He’s kind of green and has bright orange underside! I live in northern Utah if that helps!

Wow, this dude was not as easy to ID as I thought he would be! Some things I looked at while I was figuring out who this was:

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Most beetles have bodies completely covered by their wing casings, so I thought this would be easy. But the beetles I knew with the pronotum shaped like a shield had all their bits safely tucked away! Luckily, beetle ID guides know this, so they use the antennae to start out the ID process. And VIOLA! We have

A Soft-winged Flower Beetle (Family Melyridae)! [link to iNat]

I think your friend is in the genus Collops. A naturalist friend of mine saw one of these in California [link to iNat]. In his photo, you can see the funky antennae a little more clearly. WEIRD!!!

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Above photo copyright Chris Mallory [link again]

Initially, I had thought those little bumps on the antennae could have been ant heads! It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d seen them there! [link to iNat]

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Ant head attached to a (living!) flea beetle antenna. The ants attack, grab on, die, bodies fall off, and the poor beetle just has to deal.

Thanks for sending in your beetle, that was fun to figure out!

July 7, 2019

I just wanted to say that it's grasshopper and cicada season where I live now. There so many grasshoppers that if I walk in any patch of dry sand and rock, anywhere from 10 to 100's of them start jumping at once and just cascade and fly into my face and I love them so much. What neat grasshopper facts do you have?

It’s grasshopper season here, too! I’m a bit of a grasshopper dunce, but I do still know some neat grasshopper facts.

One of my favorites is about grasshoppers vs. locusts. They’re essentially the same thing! There are some species of grasshoppers that will turn into massive swarms if they get too crowded, and they will destroy everything they will find. Some researchers looked into this, and it turns out, brushing their hind legs releases serotonin in their brains, and that’s what causes their behavioral changes! [link to LiveScience article] 

The Australian Department of Agriculture has a great page about locusts, including their life cycle, I highly recommend checking it out, it’s a great brief overview [link].

Another grasshopper fact, which I discovered by obsessively photographing every bug I see and then having people identify them for me on iNaturalist, is that… the same species can come in MANY different forms! Here are are bunch of photos of Short-winged Green Grasshoppers:

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Thing is, when I first encountered this species name, I assumed all of them would have… short wings… and that they would maybe, be green? NOPE!!! There is a LONG WINGED form (See the babe in the top left? Long wings!) And I don’t think I need to point out the ones that aren’t green. These are ALL THE SAME SPECIES! Don’t believe me? Bottom left corner, a green lady is mating with a brown gentleman. Definition of species, right?

Grasshoppers are so good at camouflaging, holy carp. Take these Aztec Grasshoppers for example. There are two in the photo. This is at Bastrop State Park, where some of the dirt is red from the iron content:

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Or what about this Broad-horned Grasshopper I saw in Malawi?

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And while we’re in Malawi, I HAVE TO SHARE this Gaudy fellow (seriously, the family is commonly called “Gaudy grasshoppers), a Dictyophorus sp. babe I saw hiding out in plain sight on a Cycad, which I didn’t see until I’d been staring at a wasp for several minutes:

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Coming back to Texas, I’ve seen SEMI-AQUATIC GRASSHOPPERS???? NO REALLY, THEY WERE ALL SWIMMING ON PURPOSE, AND THAT’S THEIR THING????? I still don’t know wtf these things are besides pygmy grasshoppers.

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Showy Grasshoppers (that’s their name!) that look like aliens:

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Aztec spur-throat grasshopper nymphs that look like candies:

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The Bird grasshoppers, named because, I presume, they are so huge they are mistaken for birds when they fly:

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One of my fondest grasshoppers memories, though, was of this Red-shanked Grasshopper, who was waiting outside my building at UT Austin when I was a grad student. I was leaving my lab late one night (1 am! Hey, I said I was a grad student!), and he was just waiting for me. I wasn’t a naturalist quite yet, this was 2014. So I did what came naturally to me when faced with a giant grasshopper:

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Grasshoppers are awesome! I hope you get to meet some fun ones!

July 6, 2019

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@vespertinecat asked:

Hi there, um… do you know this bug? I found it over a year ago in the DFW area of Texas just chilling on this window. I’ve never seen another one, but it’s kind of cool looking so I’ve always wondered. Thank you for any of your help!

This is an ichneumon wasp! These wasps are parasitoids, meaning they lay their eggs inside other insects, and their larvae develop inside those insects until they emerge as adults. Exciting! Here are some Texas ichneumon wasps I’ve seen:

Ophion sp. [link to iNaturalist]

Enicospilus sp. [link to iNaturalist]

Netelia sp. [link to iNaturalist]. This is the only one I know of that has been reputed to sting! All the others have ovipositors that are good for laying eggs inside other insects only!

Opheltes glaucopterus [link to iNaturalist]

If you look at them, the common feature you notice: long abdomen, skinny waist, long antennae. Most of them follow this pattern! But of course, not all ichneumon wasps look like this. If you see an insect that looks like this, though, chances are it is an ichneumon, or at least closely related to one.

July 3, 2019

AHHHHH ANOLES!!! I love watching them around my apartment complex! I'm so jealous you can get so close!

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shhhhhhh they’re sleeping

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oh! 

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look at this small child, who has grown up next to a giant finger used to gauge their size. But hmmmm what’s that dot on their head?

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That thing that looks like a hole on the baby’s head is a parietal eye [link to wikipedia article], a light-sensing organ that regulates circadian rhythms and hormone cycles. These organs are common in reptiles, amphibians, and some fish.

When I say my yard is full of anoles, I mean… I can go out in my yard any night from April through November and find at least three or four of them lounging in my trees. Sometimes I find cuddle piles of them.

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I love them.

July 3, 2019