Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fishfly

I was excited the other night to discover what I thought was a very large moth flying by my garage light. It was a clumsy flier and I was intrigued by its strange wings which were very translucent in glow of the light. As luck would have it, the creature landed on my garage door and I realized it was not a moth, but instead a big, beautiful fishfly! I haven't had the opportunity to photography one since 2010, so I quickly grabbed my camera gear and clicked away as many shots as I could before it flew away.


This fishfly I have determined to be a male, as it has very feathery antennae. Antennae of the females are more beadlike. Because of the feathery antennae, I also believe this fishfly to be in the genus Chauliodes. The larvae of this fishfly live in still waters, as opposed to the running waters of rivers and streams.





You can click on the photos for a closer look!






Lucky for me this fella was very brave and patient. I thought for sure he'd fly away when I put my finger in for a perspective shot, but he didn't. Thanks big guy! I'd put the size of this fishfly at a little over 2 inches from head to wingtip.






A fly popped in for a little visit to help show the large size of this fishfly.











You can see here that fishflies have not just two eyes, but five. Two are compound eyes (eyes with multiple lenses), but the other three that you see on the top of its head are simple eyes which only have one lens. The three simple eyes here all point in a different direction, which I suspect help aid the fishfly in avoiding hungry predators.







Take a closer look at the cool mandibles of this fishfly. Most of the reading I have done indicates that the adult fishfly doesn't feed or eats very little. The mandibles could be used for self-defense from predators as well as during the mating process. I have also been unable to determine if they bite. I have read that the larvae can bite, but have found no information on the "biting" status of adults.



Juicy Tidbits

Fishflies are part of the Megaloptera order, which also includes alderflies and dobsonflies. The order name means "ample wings".

Dobsonflies and fishflies are part of the family Corydalidae.

When in the aquatic larval stage, the larvae feed on other insects like black fly larvae.

Adults eat little or nothing at all.

I believe this specimen is Chauliodes pectinicornis, which is commonly known as the summer fishfly.

The aquatic larval stage of the fishfly can last up to 2 - 3 years.

Adults typically only live for a few days, just enough time to mate and lay eggs.

Male fishflies have feathery antennae, the female fishfly antennae are more beadlike.

Life cycle is that of complete metamorphosis: egg ~ larva ~ pupa ~ adult.

Body size 21 - 46 mm (0.8 inches to 1.8 inches) not including wingspan.



For more information on the fishfly, check out these amazing sites:

Insect Identification. org -- http://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Fishfly

Bioweb Home -- http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio210/s2012/bauer_jona/

Bug Guide. net -- http://bugguide.net/node/view/8568






Saturday, July 19, 2014

Painted Lichen Moth

I found this beauty while camping at Awenda Provincial Park in Penetanguishene, Ontario in mid July, 2014. This is a Painted Lichen Moth which is actually quite widespread and common, but a first find for me! It is a small moth with wonderful colours and its larvae feed on lichens, giving this moth its name. Adult moths can be found flying from May to August. The Latin name for this moth is Hyproprepia fucosa.

Here are some of the photos I was able to capture before it flew away....




For more information on the Painted Lichen Moth, check out these great sites:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoprepia_fucosa ~ Wikipedia


http://bugguide.net/node/view/16271 ~ Bug Guide

http://awaytogarden.com/lichen-moths/ ~ A Way to Garden


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cicada Exuvia

I found this cicada exuvia when I was in Mexico for a destination wedding. I wasn't lucky enough to find the cicada itself, but I'm always happy to find the empty shell. These empty skin casings can be found clinging to trees where the cicada emerged from its nymphal skin to become an adult cicada. Once they've transformed into a winged adult, they spend some time drying off, and then proceed to the tops of the trees to find a mate. 

You can hear the male cicadas singing from the treetops during the hot days of summer. They sound like a loud, whirring buzz saw. When I was a kid, I used to think their sound was the power surging through the power lines. Lol. 

I'm hoping to find some cicadas this summer, not just their empty skins .... Cross your fingers for me!  


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Single Red Autumn Vine

The beauty of Autumn is upon us and can easily be found anywhere right now. You don't have to travel far to find the amazing colours that Fall brings. Head down to the lake, take a walk in the woods or simply look in your backyard. I'm sure you'll see some amazing colours that are sure to soothe your soul.

I've been admiring these vines that have crept over my fence from my neighbour's place. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Now get oustide and enjoy some nature!

Friday, September 6, 2013

American Pelecinid Female

This beautiful stingless wasp was found at the Earl Rowe campground in Alliston, Ontario. It was at least 1 1/2 inches in length (that includes the tail) if not more. I have never encountered one of these before, so was quite thrilled to capture it!

The male pelecinid wasp is quite rare. What's interesting about this wasp is that the females are able to reproduce without the help of the male. This type of reproduction is called parthenogenisis, which means "virgin birth" . This simply means that the female can lay eggs that don't require fertilization. These unfertilized eggs hatch more females, which explains why this species is predominantly female. For more info on this process, check out this site: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio210/s2012/brummond_jord/reproduction.htm

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dogday Harvestfly on Wood

The Dogday Harvestfly (Tibicen canicularis) is a type of cicada. This one was found in my friend's backyard here in Barrie. Including its wings, it was about 1 1/2 inches in length (about 40 mm).

These creatures cannot sting or bite. It is believed that the dogday harvestfly doesn't even eat. They live underground as wingless nymphs for two to five years.There, they feed on root juices until they are ready to become adults. When ready, they emerge from the dark underground, climb the nearest plant and molt their skin. Once they have climbed out of their skin and their wings have dried, they make their way to the treetops to look for a mate.

You can hear the male cicadas singing in the summer ~ this is how they find their mates!Their call sounds like a circular saw cutting through wood.

I love it when I'm able to photograph these amazing creatures.... they are hard to find (eventhough I hear them all the time).

If you would ever like to find a cicada, the best way to do so is to look on the trunks of trees during the summer. If you are lucky, you might be able to find their empty skin shells (called exuvia). If you this, just look up the tree and see if the freshly emerged cicada is still there. I was lucky enough last year to find four emerging cicadas on a tree as Bass Lake, Ontario. What a thrill that was to watch and photograph!


You can check out my Emerging Cicada post from July 22, 2012 to see pictures of cicada nymphs transforming into adults. Very cool!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

We found these two Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars while on a hike at Earl Rowe Campground, Alliston, Ontario. These colourful black, white and orange caterpillars are sometimes referred to as the "Harlequin Caterpillars". My National Audubon field guide refers to them as Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars. They can be found in meadows and along roadsides ~ or wherever you may find milkweed, as they feed on the foliage of this weed. They range from Ontario and northeastern United States, to the North Carolina mountains, west to the great Plains.

I only managed a couple of shots before they fell off the leaf they were on. This is apparently a defense mechanism they use when they feel threatened. My son had bumped the plant they were on and they quickly curled up and dropped to the ground.

The caterpillar will eventually become the Milkweed Tussock Moth (or Milkweed Tiger Moth).



Check out some of these sites to learn more about the Milkweed Tussock Moth and their caterpillars:


Garden Web: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/butterfly/msg0907431211368.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euchaetes_egle

The Metropolitan Naturalist:
http://metro-naturalist.com/Animals/Insects/Milkweed_Tussock_Moth.html