Sunday, August 12, 2007

An abundance of bugs

Tall Ironweed against Daisy Fleabane

For the first time this week, I walked. Today is cooler--mid 90s.
We’ve had record-breaking heat –at, or nearly at, 100 degrees for 2 days now. And, although the only birds flitting around the field are the brightly clad goldfinches, I found the milkweed patch and gum grove teaming with life. The air is loud with Cicada singing and there is an abundance of bugs!

At first glance, I thought these were aphids. But, a closer look shows black heads and no tailpipes, making me think Milkweed Bug nymphs? (Added to the fact that adults have been very numerous!)

And on the Ironweed, this yellow Jagged Ambush Bug, stands out as he stalks his dinner.

I was fortunate enough to actually watch this cicada singing just several feet away on a low branch.Tibicen chloromera (?), a very large, black-eyed, green-winged, noisy creature enjoying the dog-days of summer.

And, I am enjoying the fact that just several degrees less on the thermometer can make such a difference!

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Q said...

I love your bugs!
It is reassuring when I see them too. Great bird food.
I also have been kept indoors from the heat. I pop out for a couple of minutes, snap a few photos and hurry inside to cool down.
I have been walking in the early morning and late at might.
Bugs are wonderful.
Stay cool,

cestoady said...

My gosh, what a delightful post !! I stopped cold at the Ironweed photo ,so ethereal and compelling when enlarged.

And the bugs ( they are indeed true bugs) show such diversity . It may be hot -- but look who is out there enjoying every bit of it--sucking milkweed,ambushing a meal, and "singing "ones head off the hotter it gets.

Lynne said...

Lucky for you- I've never seen a cicada although they started singing loudly here on August 1st, right on schedule.

Body Soul Spirit said...

Lovely pictures! You sure are having a hot month. I miss walking when it is super hot(and humid) or cold and icy.

RuthieJ said...

That Jagged Ambush Bug is pretty scary looking...and big too! I'm glad it's only a picture in your blog, Nina. (I'm not a very good bug person, unless it's a butterfly, moth, or milkweed caterpillar)

Mary said...


HA! Mid-90's is a cool down!

I've been staying inside after 4 consecutive days of 100+. There's no relief in sight for a week, so I'm outdoors after 7:30 p.m. It's a ghost town around here.

I love your bugs! You have an artful eye with the camera.

Enjoy your early morning walks. That's the only way...


dguzman said...

Nice bugs and wildflower posts! I've never seen anything like that jagged ambush bug--it's wild! Thanks for the tutorial; I always thought those red things were aphids too.

Cathy said...

Dang! I've been looking all over for Ambush Bugs since Bev displayed her photos on 'Burning Silo.' I just have had 'zip' luck. What an incredible insect. Your picture is makes me want them all the more!

The Fleabane and Ironweed pix is lovely.

nina said...

Ruthie-I'm not so good with insects, either--but I sure am finding a bunch. Birds are keeping cool somewhere, insects are having a field day!

Cathy-I seem to have a lot of predatory insects--either that, or a lot of insects are predatory! (I've got more in store)

Rebecca Clayton said...

Beautiful photos as usual!

May I ask you where you got the "Phymata erosa" id? I see many people in Eastern North America calling their phymatids this, but that's a European species which hasn't been reported from the New World.

There are two Phymata species in Eastern North America, pennsylvanica and americana, and yours looks quite characteristic of Phymata pennsylvanica.

(Hope this doesn't come across as critical; I'm just wondering how this "erosa" identification was propagated.)

nina said...

I'm glad for the help, if this is wrongly identified. I am using for many of my insect IDs. Specifically: which was North Am. or this one at:
The site apparently is Iowa State's Entomology Department. They have a disclaimer, which says they do their best to be correct, maybe I should check another source, too.

nina said...

I also found mention of the species (Ohio Journal of Science Vol. XVIII) as having been identified in Ohio in Springfield, Yellow Springs and Trenton, all near me.

nina said...

And one more great photo and explanation from the Audubon guides:

Rebecca Clayton said...

Hi, Nina, doesn't have a "page" for Phymata erosa. The nodes you cited are actually on the "Phymata sp. page." The editors of are aware P. erosa is not a North American species. The possibility for confusion exists because shows all comments and competing identifications, and several people have submitted their own photos as P. erosa. (I'm trying to find out where this came from.)

Here's the email I sent
I've noticed a species identification error on this page:

You identify this North American species as Phymata erosa. According to Catalog
of North American Heteroptera (Froeshner and Henry, 1988) P. erosa is not found
in North America. They base this determination on Kormilev's 1962 revision of the subfamily Phymatinae.

The two most common and widespread Phymata species in North America are P. pennsylvanica and P. americana. Without indicating where the insect was photographed, and without microscopic examination, your safest bet would be to call this specimen "Phymata sp."
Rebecca Clayton


I don't know if they'll pay any attention, but I feel I've done my duty as a heteropterist.

nina said...

I'll change the ID so as not to add to the apparently already-brewing confusion about the Phymatidae. Not having the scientific resources at hand, I took Audubon's ENature as a good resource. I guess anyone can be wrong.
Thanks for your interest.

Jennifer said...

I enjoyed the amazing colors in the pictures you posted today. Especially love the ironweed with fleabane... Very pretty.