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Beetles and bugs in our garden

Bugs

Although to Amy just about all pictures on these pages feature "bugs", zoologically the only bugs are found here.
Attack of the killer bug! The wheelbug (Arilus cristatus) is a large member of the assassin bug family, named for the cog-like protrusion on its back. I found this one chomping down on some prey, clinging to the bottom of a leaf. arilus cristatus wheelbug
arilus cristatus wheelbug nymph This one is just a youngster (same species), but already looking plenty fierce with his red fang. I found him hiding in between some leaves on a young tree, in mid-June.
Another, smaller, assassin bug, on the lookout for flying snacks near a Mexican sunflower.
Laying in wait on or near flowers, ambush bugs (Phymata species) are ready to jump their unsuspecting prey. They take on insects several times their size (including wasps and butterflies), grabbing them with their strong foreclaws before paralyzing them with their bite. This one here is a girl (the stronger of the sexes, in ambush bugs). phymata ambush bug
I found two of these colorful bugs crawling around the seedpods of my swamp milkweed. Sure enough, they are small milkweed bugs (Lygaeus kalmii), and belong to the 'seed bugs'. See, some things just all make sense :-)
These four-lined plant bugs (Poecilocapsus lineatus) appear on their favorite plants scattered across the garden in June. They seem to like fragrant plants – I found some on costmary, and others (like the one pictured here) on hyssop. They must like bubblegum and liquorice! They are shy: when they spot nearby activity (such as an approaching camera) they quickly trade their positions on the tops of leaves for ones on the undersides. Poecilocapsus lineatus four-lined plant bug
Alydus: broad-headed bug This plant bug belongs to the genus Alydus, the broad-headed bugs. It feeds on plant juices. I found this one on a variegated lysimachia, on low-growing foliage.
One day in mid-August, preparing to take a picture of my pink glandularia flowers, I reached to flick off a speck of debris - and realized it wasn't debris, but a long slender bug. Upon closer inspection, it was a confluence of two bugs. Then I saw several more solo specimens on the same plant. They are some kind of stilt bug in genus Jalysus. stiltbugs mating
Boisea trivittata: Eastern box elder bug nymph

 

Ben found this bug scurrying around our patio. It's a nymph of the Eastern box elder bug (Boisea trivittata), which is interesting, because I don't know of any box elders around. Maybe it likes one of the other Acer species in our garden. You can tell he's a youngster, because he has just stubs where the wings will be in the adult stage. Baby box-elder bugs are all red, while adults have just a few red markings left. Neurocolpus: plant bug

 

A good example of a bug that looks much cooler when magnified than with the bare eye! This is a plant bug in the genus Neurocolpus. I found several of them making their way along a hardy hibiscus (the one in the photo is sitting on a hibiscus bud).

Stinkbugs

Very recognizable because of their distinctive shape, these bugs come in many color patterns and sizes. I've collected snapshots of a few of the ones found in our garden, just so you can admire them up close without fear of malodor.
This colorful little bug was hiding deep inside an agastache flowerspike. Although I had tentatively identified it as the last nymph stage (5th instar) of Nezara hilaris, a better fit may be the 3rd instar of a species of Euschistus.
And this is probably the adult form of the little one above. This green stinkbug was lounging on a pear in our orchard.

Another plentiful stinkbug in our garden is the twice-stabbed stinkbug (Cosmopepla lintneriana). This one, too, is rather fond of agastache flowerspikes. The adult is small, about 1/8" (3 mm).
brown marmorated stinkbug halyomorpha halys
In its own way, this stinkbug is kind of handsome, too. Unfortunately, it's the brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys), an agricultural pest from East Asia that was first found in the US in 2001, of all places in Allentown.
brown marmorated stinkbug nymph
This one looks different, but is actually a nymph (juvenile stage) of the marmorated stinkbug at left.
brown marmorated stinkbug: Halyomorpha halys (teneral form)

And this is yet another individual of the same species - in this case a newly emerged adult, who hasn't yet attained his mature coloration - a teneral form, in entomological terms. stinkbug: Banasa dimiata

Another smaller stinkbug species, Banasa dimiata occurs through most of North America. Its coloration depends on the season. This one is plotting its escape from a plastic sand bucket, into which it was captured by my enterprising son Ben.
waterstrider: gerris A couple of waterstriders (species Gerris) on the edge of a waterlily pad, trying to ensure the survival of the species. With plenty of predators around, let's hope their offspring is numerous!

Beetles

A rather diverse group of insects - one day I'll read up on them and figure out what makes a beetle a beetle and a bug a bug. For now, just some photos:
Ain't it marvellous? A bright shiny pink thing on a very spiny solanum branch. According to the friendly folks at BugGuide, this is a potato beetle larva. pink potato beetle larva
leptinotarsa juncta false potato beetle The next year, I found more of the larvae - and also a few adult specimens. Further research told me that these are in fact false potato beetles (species Leptinotarsa juncta) recognizable by brown stripes interrupting the white and black ones.
Photinus pyralis: firefly

Every year in late June and July, fireflies light up the garden. They're easy to catch when they're active at dusk, but in the dark you never get a good look. So I didn't recognize this one when I found it in broad daylight on a pepper plant in the veggie garden. Pretty handsome beetle, this Photinus isopyralis, don't you think?
harmonia axyridis asian lady beetle Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis) just love our empress tree, probably because the aphids like it too.
This dandy is a longhorn beetle, more specifically a red milkweed beetle ( Tetraopes tetrophthalmus). In late June, our swamp milkweed flowers were full of them. red milkweed beetle: tetraopes tetrophthalmus
All of a sudden one nice day in late summer, there were dozens of these orange fellas hovering around. Turns out they are goldenrod soldier beetles, or Pennsylvania leatherwings (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus). While we have a good supply of goldenrod in our garden, our visitors seemed to prefer our culinary herbs. Gourmand beetles - go figure.
The beetle I least like to see in our garden - the one that defoliates quite a wide range of plants in mid-summer: the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). We really haven't tried to fight them: The milky spore fungus is a natural control that attacks the white grubs overwintering in the lawn, but takes a few years to become effective and is expensive for the expanse of grass we'd have to cover. Grub control chemicals seem like overkill, counter to our mostly organic gardening approach, and I'd be afraid they'd kill beneficials as well. The pheromone traps are controversial - do they help, or do they merely attract more of the nemeses to the gardens they're in? So we don't do much more than make rounds of the garden once in a while, knocking however many of them as we can manage into a bucket of water. Hardly very effective...
cucumber beetle Diabrotica undecimpunctata The spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) is usually found on flowers, in this case red flax.
Plagiometriona clavata: clavate tortoise beetle

I found two of these odd-looking creatures on a damaged eggplant leaf one day in mid-August. When they moved around, they waved the brown appendage on their tail about - but mostly they just sat still. They are the nymph stage of Plagiometriona clavata, the clavate tortoise beetle. The brown bit is in fact attached excrement, which it uses to hide itself from would-be predators. Staphylinid (rove beetle) larva

Found several of these tiny things crawling around in decaying matter. Turns out they are rove beetle (staphylinid) larvae. Rove beetles are a large family of the beetles. Atlhough I've probably encountered adult forms, I've yet to take a picture of one.

Weevils

These scurriers with odd-looking antennae are members of the beetle order (coleoptera). I haven't found many so far, and most of those have been tiny.
cucumber beetle Merhynchites bicolor I'm pretty sure this is a rose curculio (Merhynchites bicolor). It fits, because I found them all over our Virginia rose in late June. It's classified with the leafrolling weevils, but I saw no evidence of that behavior (lots of procreation, though).
A bunch of these tiny grey weevils were feasting on hollyhock leaves. I tried to get a better picture, but it's hard to focus a camera up close to a running bug! leaf weevil

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Last modified: June 09, 2013
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