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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Agalliopsis Species: Backyard Biodiversity Project Species #6



What I'm finding out about the world of insects is how relatively common species that I encounter in my backyard are poorly unknown.  This leafhopper is tiny, and supposedly there are 15 species in the genus Agalliopsis,but only two are listed on bugguide, and they look quite similar!  So for this species, as far as I'm going to get for now to identify it to genus. This one is truly tiny, probably 5 millimeters long or less!

-Tom

Monday, August 22, 2016

Twenty-Spotted Lady Beetle: BBP Species #5



I photographed this beetle larva on August 9 on the undersides of the leaves of my double flowered green-headed coneflower.  I thought it was a long shot to identify, but thank you to bugguide.net and James Bailey who confirmed that this is the larva of the twenty-spotted lady beetle, Psyllobora vigintimaculata.  The adults are brownish and white, quite different when compared to the typical red and black of the more familiar species. This photo is a particularly nice image of an adult.  Now I need to find one and photograph one- I would imagine this larva, if it survived, would be an adult now.

-Tom

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Evening Ride Along the Olentangy

Olentangy River at I-270

Antrim Park

Alloway St. E.


We're back from Munroe Falls; we had a great time at the Hill family reunion on Saturday, and this morning we visiting my grandmother.  After the two-hour drive back to Columbus, I decided to take the bike out for an evening ride on the Olentangy trail.  The number of riders is nearly zero on Sunday evenings, my favorite time of the week to go for a ride.  The temperatures in the lower 70's really made for a perfect ride.

I first went north as far as I could go, pausing to photograph the location where the I-270 interchange with State Route 315 is being re-worked.  Then down to Antrim Park, where I stopped and watched the flock of mixed-parentage mallards.  Then finally home where I spotted the contrast between clouds and Norway spruce as I pulled into our driveway.

Have a great week,

-Tom

Friday, August 19, 2016

Gone Fishin'



Well, not really.  This weekend my mom is organizing a big reunion of my maternal grandmother's family.  We haven't gotten together in 11 years, and I've been spending the last two nights preparing a slideshow of old family photos.  Here's a gem that I thought you might like- my great grandfather Floyd Hill with a nice rack of fish, most likely caught somewhere in Canada.  If you remember my post on my historical fishing tackle, most of it I believe was his originally.

I'll be back next week.

-Tom

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Polished Lady Beetle: BBP Species #4



The polished lady beetle (Cycloneda munda) is quite the stunning little beetle, despite its lack of spots.  The milkweed that I've planted attracts many aphids, and the aphids in turn attract lady beetles.  For us native plant gardeners, we get excited when we find bugs sipping the juices of our plants.  That's the whole reason we planted them on!  Bugs feed bugs, and those bugs feed birds and many other backyard wildlife species.  The genus Cycloneda contains three species in North America, all without spots. Munda is the one species likely to be encountered in Ohio; the other two either live south or west of the buckeye state.

-Tom

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Day of School



This morning the boys just left for their first day of school.  Weston starts first grade, Brody begins kindergarten.  Wow time flies!

-Tom

Bursting from the Leaf - Backyard Biodiversity Project Mystery



I don't know what this is, but it isn't alive anymore.  Could it be the result of some type of leaf mining fly?  I'm not sure.  If you know, please let us know!  As you can see, this pupae is tiny, barely a millimeter long, taken with very high magnification.  Just look at the hairs on the undersides of those leaves!

-Tom

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spotted Cucumber Beetle: BBP Species #3


Let me start off by saying I love insects, but I don't really know much about them.  Part of the reason I'm doing this backyard biodiversity project is to learn more.  The interest in insects started because I kept seeing all kinds of creatures living on the plants that I studied, both in the field and at home.

This is a species that it quite common, and it is quite a hated pest.  Known to harm members of the squash family, I actually found several climbing on the petals of my double-flowered green-headed coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata). They can also exhibit a green color, particularly on the thorax, but this one was primarily yellow.  Its scientific name is Diabrotica undecimpunctata,  the epithet roughly translating to "eleven spots".  The "V" shaped spot counts as one spot, apparently, but doesn't it look like it's split down the middle?  Who am I to argue!

I've been seeing this one for years nearly everywhere I go in Ohio, and now I finally know a little bit more about this relatively common inhabitant of our backyard.  To learn all about them, spending some time reading this page by the University of Florida.  They can damage crop plants in many different ways.  As far as I could tell, this is a native species.

As always, please feel free to add your experiences and knowledge about each creature I feature in the BPP series.  Thanks!

-Tom

Monday, August 15, 2016

Arbour Adventures: COSI With Grandpa


Grandpa Glenn, aka "Bah" visited Worthington this weekend. We had a blast at COSI, central Ohio's famous science museum that draws families from across Ohio. Enjoy! -Tom

Friday, August 12, 2016

Monarch Butterfly: BBP Species #2

We planted quite a bit of milkweed last year, courtesy of Ohio Prairie Nursery's milkweed madness seed packet. We watched as dozens of monarch caterpillars feasted, grew, pupated, and eclosed.  With monarch numbers down this year, we didn't even see a monarch until yesterday. This evening during an outside check of the weather, I looked down and found this!  How this one escaped our eyes for so long-it's a plant just outside our door-we don't know, but we are happy to finally be hosting our first monarch cat of 2016.

-Tom

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle: BBP Species #1



Ah, were you expecting a orange and black beetle?  While I have seen the adult of this species a few times in our backyard, last night was the first time I saw its larva.  As you can see, this slimy looking creature was actively eating the margin of a common milkweed leaf.  I knew it must be one of the few insects that specializes on milkweed.  My first guess that it might be the larva of a milkweed beetle, but after doing a little research, I believe this is the larvae of the swamp milkweed leaf beetle, Labidoderma clivicollis.  It looks quite different from the adult!  Looking at it in this photo, I really should have touched the beetle- it appears to be wet- is the shiny body sticky?  Slippery?  Hard?  Gooey? I try not to disturb the animals I photograph, but in this case, I wish I would have explored more.

While I've photographed countless numbers of species in our backyard, now that I have started the backyard biodiversity project (let's use BBP for short), I'm going to reset and start from zero.  This is backyard biodiversity project species #1.

-Tom