Posts Tagged ‘hemiptera’


Newly emerging squash bugs (Anasa tristis), photographed 7/17/2013 in Urbana, IL. Click image to enlarge.

As was the case last year, I’m spending a disproportionate portion of my time looking through squash leaves and squashing squash bugs and their eggs.

So far we’ve lost the zucchini plants. I’m currently defending the crookneck and butternut squash plants. Individuals of both species remain vigorous, though I suspect I’ll need to increase our fertilization and watering frequencies.

On the plus side, the squash flower blooms are spectacular each morning, allowing me to photograph a variety of pest and pollinator species.

Last year I posted several entries regarding our battle [see “Our war against squash bugs (Anasa tristis) begins” and “Squash harvest yields a few squash bugs (Anasa tristis)”]. Between those image and the one captured today I now have a pretty broad array of squash bug life stage images. Enjoy!

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Dog day cicada (Tibicen canicularis) photographed July 28, 2012 in our yard. Click/double click image to enlarge.

I recently became aware of a beautifully filmed and presented eight minute video regarding the periodical cicada (Magicicada septendecim) life cycle. “Return of the Cicadas” is as artistic as it is informative. Best of all, it is freely accessible via the Internet.

An additional resource worth checking out is Cicada Mania. Despite its name, this professionally presented resource is an exceptional compilation of regularly updated periodical cicada information. I was particularly pleased to see that Illinois is slated as one of three states that should experience a large-scale periodical cicada emergence in 2014. I’ve never experienced a massive emergence before, but plan to document as much as I can when it occurs!

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Squash bug (Anasa tristis) on the dried stem of the volunteer butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata). Click image to enlarge.

We battled squash bugs for about eight weeks. Our earliest efforts are chronicled in the July 16, 2012 entry. In the end, two sprayings and daily hand squashing of thousands of individuals over the growing season was sufficient.

The summer squash (zucchini) yield wasn’t  spectacular, though it satisfied our summer needs and we do have some in the freezer. The winter squash (butternut squash) yield should be sufficient to take us well into winter. Ironically, a single volunteer plant that grew in a graveled area to the east of our shed produced 18 butternut squash, making it our most productive plant this year.

I’m hoping the individual above is the last squash bug I encounter this season. Really.

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Eastern leaf-footed bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus) on goldenrod (Solidago sp.), Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL. Click image to enlarge.

Distinguished by its elongated leaflike (foliaceous) hind tibiae and dorsal bar marking, which ranges from white to yellow, Eastern leaf-footed bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus) feed on plant species including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and ornamentals.

Eastern leaf-footed bugs can be major pests in citrus groves, where its feeding activities may lead to premature color break and fruit drop.

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I encountered this leafhopper (still need to identify species) with distinct brochosomes almost immediately upon approaching the Adrian Archbold Lodge, our meeting center at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, FL. Click to enlarge.

“Welcome to everyone who is curious about biological exploration. I encourage you to do as many famous Archbold scientists have done – look closer, make observations, and ask questions. Archbold Biological Station represents all that can be achieved with great science, great generosity, and a celebrated ecosystem.”

Hilary Swain, Executive Director, Archbold Biological Station

Archbold Biological Station in Venus, FL was Tom Eisner’s favorite natural history location. It is a natural haven for the study of wildlife, as well as the location where he made most of his discoveries and felt most at home as a naturalist. He devoted an entire chapter, “Wonders from Wonderland,” to Archbold Biological Station in “For Love of Insects.”

BugShot 2012 was based at Archbold Biological Station. I can’t come up with enough superlatives to describe the Bugshot 2012 experience. The Florida scrub was new to me, and I observed and photographed a number of species I hadn’t encountered in the past.

More than that, BugShot 2012 was an exceptional opportunity to learn additional biology regarding both familiar and unfamiliar species, a myriad of techniques, and an opportunity to be part of a developing community of scientists, educators, computer programmers, and numerous other professionals that have contributed to the entomological community and are broadening its reach.

I did have some Hurricane Isaac-associated challenges returning, but in the end I was able to get home, and even had opportunity to be bumped up to experience the ultra-decadence of first class. That should be worth a blog entry in itself!

I’ll be putting up images this week as time allows. At this point I’m really tired, but delighted to have had the BugShot 2012 experience.

On a side note, I will post more about brochosomes later, but you may want to check out http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~rakitov/brochosomes.html to learn more about these intricately shaped proteinaceous secretory particles, produced by the Malpighian tubules of leafhoppers (Cicadellidae).

Leafhopper release brochosome-containing secretions through the hindgut after molting, and apply it onto the fresh integument. It appears that the resulting particulate coat prevents leafhoppers from getting trapped in their sticky excrement or water. Some leafhoppers also use brochosomes to cover the egg chambers made by ovipositing females.

More to come!

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Adult giant mesquite bug (Thasus neocalifornicus), roughly the length of my thumb, on mesquite (Prosopis sp.). Note how well this individual blends into the shadows and irregular bark of the mesquite. Click/double click image to enlarge.

Among the largest of the terrestrial true bugs, clusters of nymphs and adults of this species are often found feeding on mesquite seed pods. Mesquite bugs rarely impact the trees upon which they feed.

The adult combination of red and black-banded legs and yellow-marked forewings is surprisingly cryptic when these bugs are on mesquite trunks and larger branches.

Nymphs, like adults, produce a noxious-smelling fluid when disturbed. Nymphs advertise their bad taste with distinctly marked red and black-banded legs and yellow and black-banded abdomen.

Immature giant mesquite bug (Thasus neocalifornicus) clearly advertising its bad taste. Click/double click image to enlarge.

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Adult large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) photographed during the “Night Bugs” workshop at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium on July 21, 2012. Click/double click image to enlarge.

I wouldn’t normally post an image of an individual of the same species I mentioned a week earlier, but I do like the relatively clear differences between the forewings and the hindwings shown in this individual.

The forewings are modified into hemelytra, in which the basal portion (orange, black, orange striping) is thickened and leathery, while the distal portion (uniform black) is membranous.

The hind wings (base of left hindwing shown in the individual above) are fully membranous, lack pigmentation and held beneath the hemelytra when at rest.

More regarding the biology of this species can be found in “Large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) populations increasing” and “Differentiating between small milkweed bugs (Lygaeus kalmii) and large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus).”

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Freshly molted, still drying adult dog day cicada (Tibicen canicularis). Click/double click image to enlarge.

I had opportunity to photograph this individual’s entire molt sequence yesterday. I’ll process and post the sequence later.

General information regarding dog day cicadas can be found at https://thingsbiological.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/dog-day-cicada-tibicen-canicularis/.

Close-ups of an adult dog day cicada with full adult coloration can be found at https://thingsbiological.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/for-ms-maxsons-class-dog-day-cicadas-tibicen-canicularis-up-close-and-personal/.

North Carolina State University’s Insect Museum just put out a well written, concise post regarding cicada anatomy and how it allows them to produce their familiar summer chorus.

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Green cone-headed planthopper (Acanalonia conica) on milkweed (Asclepias sp). Click/double click image to enlarge.

The green cone-headed planthopper’s (Acanalonia conica) distinctive red eyes and half-leaf appearance make identification relatively simple.

Host plants include Osage orange, basswood, lilac, goldenrod, ragweed, and a variety of different milkweeds. Though green cone-headed planthoppers may feed on corn, beets, and grapes, this species’ economic impact is generally insignificant.

Females lay their eggs in the stems various host species during the late summer and in early fall. A single generation is produced each year.

Nymphs are brownish and typically have waxy plumes, produced by wax glands, on the rear of the abdomen.

Green cone-headed planthopper (Acanalonia conica) nymph in the jaws of a green lacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris) larva. Click/double click image to enlarge.

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This large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) exhibits the species’ classic orange and blue/black markings. Note the distinct tubelike piercing-sucking mouthparts arising from the front of the head. Click/double click image to enlarge to various degrees.

In spite of the drought, now reported to be the worst U.S. drought in the past fifty years, milkweed is flourishing in many areas throughout east central Illinois. The large milkweed bug shown above was photographed yesterday at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium.

These insects feed on milkweed seeds and tissues, incorporating plant toxins into their own tissues and advertising their bitter taste through their obvious markings and coloration.

Often confused with small milkweed bugs, differences between the two species are explained, as well as shown, at “Differentiating between small milkweed bugs (Lygaeus kalmii) and large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus).”

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