Spittlebugs are fun to bother. They’re like opening Christmas presents–you never know what you’ll find wrapped in the mass of slimy bubbles. I just tried two in my yard–they may or may not be the same species (I definitely do not know much about these kids). The first one was kinda shy, but the second did a cool butt dance.
March 31, 2017
Diamond-backed Spittlebug nymphs (yes, same species!). They produce the foam by essentially “farting” into their “pee,” which is more or less just the plant’s juices with a little bit of the sugar removed. The little butt-dance the last one is doing is the accordion-like movement that they use to blow the bubbles.
Oak galls in Travis Audubon’s Baker Sanctuary outside Austin, March 18, 2017. Galls are a new thing for me: they are growths composed of plant matter that grow around a larva, typically of a gall wasp. They do not harm the plant, and if you don’t know any better you would think they are dried berries or seeds.
This was my first time seeing fresh ones–before I had only seen the brown dried up ones the wasps had already emerged from (several are pictured above, look for the exit hole). The green galls seemed to be only on the saplings. I collected a couple to dissect at home (didn’t bring my knife!).
Turns out each gall has an individual wasp. The middle of the ball has a suspended encasement for the larva. You can see where the larva is in the photo of the dissected green gall–the larva is on the side I’m pointing to with a needle. I pulled out my trusty iPhone microscope, and amazingly was able to get (very shaky) video of the larva MOVING. Creeped me the hell out when I saw it.
Fun fact: when I first saw the wasp larva moving in the microscope, I actually screamed 👍
Amphibolips sp. – Wasp that produces galls on oak trees
Antlion larvae are well-known predators that inspire countless movie / video game monsters but then their adult form is just a damselfly with anxiety
This is funny cuz it’s true
JAWS OF TERROR!
although, to be fair…
BUTT SCOOT OF … uh… um…
funny thing about the ferocious larvae, they can only move backwards. And in little short scoots. The second you dig them out of their little funnel, they freak out and just want to bury themselves, They are only powerful when they remain unseen.
Note: very few species actually make the funnels! But the ones that make the funnels, OH BOY DO THEY MAKE FUNNELS!
Fire ants using my doorway as a nursery? Must be summer!
That pile of white stuff they’re swarming around are their pupae. The reddish concrete floor is my living room. The leftover blue painter’s tape is how I kept them out the last time they did this. I vacuumed all this up. Sorry ladies, this is war (again).
I hope they don’t start nesting in my (upstairs) bedroom walls again. I really didn’t like having to search the carpet for ants after getting stung in the middle of the night.
Top gif: heartbeat in a caterpillar visible before molting
Other gifs: restless caterpillar seeks out a pupation spot (his heartbeat was also visible, though harder to see in the gifs)
They grow so fast!
June 16, 2019
Here is the cocoon of our restless fellow (and his final poops):
Also, he monch (look at his little bum in the lower right corner!).
The slug moths hide their faces so they will hold their leaves with opposable face flaps that look like giant lips. It’s like if you wore a hoodie laced mostly shut and ate by putting food into the narrow opening of the hood.