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Lacewings are pretty common in Arizona and I found another lacewing larva last week. (Check previous posts about the life cycle of lacewings).

lacewing larva

This lacewing was walking on the silk cocoon of a moth. You can just see the outline of the pale green moth pupa under the white strands of silk of the cocoon. I think the lacewing larva was trying to get inside, without much luck.

lacewing larva

See its long jaws? I think it might be the larva of a brown lacewing, rather than a green lacewing, because it looks a bit different. The brown lacewing adult has brown wings, hence the name.  They aren't as fragile-looking as the green lacewing and we tend to find them more often in the colder months.

I found an unusual insect this morning. Here is a peek:

webspinner male

This is a webspinner. It may look a little like a termite reproductive (or swarmer), but I can tell it is not because it has bulges on its front legs. Those bulges contain special glands that make silk. Webspinners are the only insects that make silk with their legs!

webspinner male

This is a male webspinner. It is a male because it has wings and because it was out and about, not hidden. Females lack wings and hide under layers of silk laid under stones, piles of leaves or on bark of trees. I have only seen a female a few times.

webspinner male

Webspinners (Order Embioptera) are small, shy and are completely harmless. Not much is known about them because they are reclusive. Webspinners have two appendages at the rear, and some people think they may be related to earwigs, our bug of the week last week.

I was able to find a bit of video about a tropical species on YouTube. Unfortunately the embed function is denied, so try this link or type this text into search to find the video. Silk tents of the Web Spinner insect - Attenborough Life in the Undergrowth

The YouTube video is a small part from the Life in the Undergrowth movie, starring David Attenborough, available on DVD.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more about fascinating webspinners.

Our bug this week has an interesting name: earwig. The etymology of the name is almost as interesting as the entomology of the insect. I have read that the word comes from everything from a corruption of 'perwig' meaning "to scold" ( I guess because of their agressive-looking tail posture), to the old English 'earwicga' which means "ear beetle." The mythology surrounding the name is even more varied, but I won't go into it here.

It's rather chilly this week, but there's always activity in the compost heap. That's where I found the earwigs.

earwig

Earwigs have a pair of forceps-like pincers at the end of their abdomen.

earwig

They tend to avoid the light and scurry away.

earwig

The youngsters look just like tiny adults.

earwig

Although the tail looks formidable, this species is harmless. There are some species that can give a pinch if they are picked up, however, so always use caution around insects you haven't had experience with before.

These earwigs are scavengers. They are often active at night and hide in crevices or under things during the day. They also like dampness.

Where do you find earwigs?