Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Black Corsair (Melanolestes picipes)
April 2, 2007

I recently bought a mercury vapor light and ran it for the first time in my backyard tonight. It attracted quite a few insects from virtually the moment I flipped the switch. A variety of moths (mostly Noctuidae), a few leafhoppers, wasps and beetles showed up. Highlights were a Banded Hickory Borer (Coleoptera Cerambycidae Knulliana cincta) and a Black Corsair – an assassin bug.

Unfortunately, the reason the Black Corsair was a highlight was because I was careless enough to get bitten by it. I was taking photos of it and when it flew away it landed on my leg and I didn’t notice. If I had, I could have just brushed it off my leg and not been bitten. It clearly had no interest in biting me because it was on me for about 2 minutes before it bit me. After it flew away, I went inside to download my photos onto the computer. It only bit me after I sat down, trapping it between my leg and my shorts. Even then, at first it was a minor bite, I’m guessing that it had just jabbed the tip of the beak into my leg. I should have immediately stood up, but instead I grabbed the edge of my shorts to lift them and inadvertently placed my hand on top of the assassin bug. From the bug’s perspective, I imagine that it thought it was in more danger and it thrust the internal mouthparts farther into my leg. At least that’s what I’m assuming happened – all I really know is that when I touched my shorts there was a second, much more painful bite. It hurt much worse than being stung by a wasp, but after about 30 or 40 minutes, it had pretty much stopped hurting. The next day, all that was left was a spot of coagulated blood at the puncture wound and a few intermittent pains in my leg.
Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma sp.)
March 28, 2007

I found a group of very small (1/4”) tent caterpillars on a tree that had 3 egg masses on twigs. I also found large numbers of velvet mites (Acari Trombidiidae) crawling over tree trunks. I discovered two pairs of mites that were apparently involved in some type of aggression. Two Orange Wing moths (Lepidoptera Geometridae Mellilia xanthometata) were flying through the woods near dusk.
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
March 24, 2007

While riding bikes on the Katy Trail in Boone County, we saw quite a few Spring Azures puddling at what appeared to be fox scat.

I also took photos of a blister beetle in our yard. I’d never seen one like this before and then I saw another one the same day at the nest colony of bees in Peace Park. After a bit of research I identified it as Tricrania sp. The beetle larvae develop in nests of Colletid Bees.
Colletid Bees
March 23, 2007

Walking through Peace Park, I found several hundred Colletid bees digging nest holes along the bank of the creek. Back the next day with my camera, I saw several bees entering and leaving holes. One bee was in a hole facing out of the entrance when another bee approached. They faced each other close together at the entrance for a moment, then switched locations with the bee originally in the hole leaving the area and the newcomer taking up watch at the entrance.