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During a recent trip to western New York State, I tried once again to capture a photograph of a Japanese beetle.

It should be easy, right? After all, the adult beetles are common, numerous and large.

Yet, the photographs always seem to turn out blurry. What is going on?

While trying to capture this one, I got a clue. (By the way, notice the cool antennae?)

As I followed it down the leaf, it stuck its hind leg out. That's the blurry thing coming out of the abdominal area.

Japanese beetles react to potential predators (and photographers) by sticking their hind legs out.

How weird is that?

Guess these bugs have found a way to ward off paparazzi with a "keep your distance" pose.

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During a recent trip, my nephew pointed out a classic funnel web a spider had built in a bush. Funnel webs consist of flat sheets of webbing with a round tunnel that serves as a retreat.

A few hours later, he pointed out the spider.

 

Funnel web spiders look a lot like wolf spiders, but they have a different eye pattern (see BugGuide)

You can see a better photo of the web structure at Wikimedia.

If you are interested in spiders, I've read some great books lately. I found two new fiction children's picture books feature spiders as characters (reviewed at Wrapped in Foil) and also an adult nonfiction book, Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles (reviewed at Wild About Ants.)

Have you seen any cool spiders lately?

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Just when we thought we were done with moths, we found an orange, black, and white beauty feeding on a Queen Anne's lace flower in western New York. It almost looks as lacy as the flower.


With the striking coloration, it didn't take long to figure out it is an ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea.

These moths were thought to be native to Florida, where they feed on paradise trees, Simarouba glauca and S. amara. The introduced Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) can also serve as a host plant. When the Tree of Heaven began to spread throughout the U.S., the ailanthus webworm did, too.

The caterpillars are called webworms because of the silk they produce while feeding. You can see them in action in this video.

Many of the caterpillars in the ermine moth family (Yponomeutidae) build webbed nests like this.

It turns out these little moths are ideal models, probably because their orange and black colors are a warning pattern. The one in the photo was not fazed by my attention, probably because not much tries to eat them. What a cool little moth.

Have you discovered any interesting moths this week?