Bug of the Week

How bad can a day be if you get to spend an hour watching dragonflies?

blue-dragonflyAlong with the usual green darners, flame skimmers, black saddlebacks, and Mexican amberwings, were these little blue cuties.

blue-dasher-dragonfly-0270Check out the white on the front of the head between the eyes.

blue-dasher-dragonfly-0275White face = Blue dasher

See more at The Dragonfly Whisperer and Arizona Dragonflies.


Often when a caterpillar is ready to pupate, it crawls away from the host plant where it was feeding. That hiding behavior may make finding the chrysalis and adult butterfly more difficult.

freshly-emerged-queen-butterflyIn this case, however, the queen caterpillar formed a chrysalis right on the plant it was feeding on, a rush milkweed. Do you see the remains of the chrysalis?

queen butterflyThere's a freshly-emerged queen butterfly right in the open for all to see.

Have you ever found a newly-emerged butterfly drying its wings?



Edit:  Ever had one of those weeks? Thank you to James Trager for pointing out that these are the caterpillars of tortricid moths.

If you were asked to identify this insect structure, what would you suggest?

webspinning-sawfly-tent_0196Tent caterpillar nest? Perhaps fall webworm?

Let's take a look at the larvae inside.

webspinning-sawfly-larvae10The larvae aren't hairy or fuzzy like some of the caterpillars that make silk nests.

webspinning-sawfly-larvae_0021If you look closely, you'll see these larvae have many prolegs (for a discussion of prolegs, try this post).

I originally thought the insects in the photos were webspinning sawfly larvae. Sawflies are relatives of bees, wasps, and ants, yet their larvae look and act like butterfly caterpillars (see for example, webspinning sawflies in the genus Neurotoma at BugGuide.)

If I had looked a bit more closely, however, I would have noticed the head capsules, although dark, are completely different. Obviously these are the larvae of the ugly nest caterpillar (see great description of their life cycle).

Will I make that mistake again soon? It's not likely, which is why feedback is so valuable. Thank you to all the people who have given me feedback this week (Did I mention that it has been one of those weeks?)