Monday, August 1, 2016

Beetles and caterpillars

I mostly take photographs of moths, at least when it comes to insect life, but sometimes there's something else that catches my eye.  This week I noticed two interesting beetles in the screened-in porch area in the morning.  I leave the light on at night to attract the moths, and sometimes other insects are attracted as well.

First up is Monochamus scutellatus, which has a number of common names, but is well known as the white-spotted sawyer or spruce beetle.  It is a wood-boring beetle that is found throughout North America and is a plague for the forestry industry.  On the other hand, they do rely on dead or dying wood for part of their life cycle, and they assist with forest nutrient cycling.  Given the fact that we're surrounded by pine and spruce forests - their main habitat - it's not surprising that one showed up.  They have extremely long antennae, which make them look quite imposing.

A few days later, I had a visit from the round-headed apple tree borer, Saperda candida.  This is also a relatively common beetle that also bores into wood.  It has very distinctive white stripes on a dark brown background.  It feeds on apple, but also pear, hawthorn, mountain ash and Amelanchier species, among others.  In this picture, it looks more black than brown, but it's a dark brown colour in the right light.  This one also seems to have had something leave a dark smudge on its back.

Today I saw a bright orange and white caterpillar.  There was only this one, on my hosta.  I didn't see any damage on the hosta.  This is the caterpillar of Pyrrhia exprimens, also known as the purple-lined sallow moth.  The moth is not particularly colourful, but the caterpillar is!  This colour pattern on the caterpillar doesn't occur until after the fourth moult.  Before that, it's green with faint dark dots.

Then there are these caterpillars.  Not so interesting.  I can't stand tent caterpillars.  There are 6 species of tent caterpillar in North America, and I'm not sure which one this group belongs to, although it's likely Malacosoma americanum (Eastern tent caterpillar) or Malacosoma disstria (Forest tent caterpillar).  These are on an alder shrub just down the road, but I took some off my flowering crabapple this week, and fed them to Athena!

Happy hen!


Michelle said...

GOOD use for tent caterpillars; may she eat them ALL. Ugh.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I love bugs :-).