Another Day, Some More New Species

in Fascinating Insects7 months ago

Here in Massachusetts, I've definitely noticed the effects of the drought on the general plant health, and relatedly, the insect abundance. The plants have less flowers and there seem to be less insects overall (including mosquitoes which is the one nice thing). Today nearly the entire state is in 'severe drought' with a third of the state being in a state of 'extreme drought.'

This afternoon I checked my local patch that is right off the bike trail. I created a 'Place' on iNaturalist to track my observations within the geographic range of this spot and the website automatically tracks all my observations made within it.


As of right now I have observed 268 different species of insect across 636 observations in my patch.

My spot seemed quiet today. But despite the relative lack of activity in the late afternoon I was still able to find some new species for my patch. That is what is good about looking for insects, there is always something new to find. With birds you eventually run out :)

Here's who I was able to find today...


Red-headed Bush Cricket (Phyllopalpus pulchellus)


A Grass-veneer moth (Parapediasia), a bit rough looking and the photo doesn't show the markings on the bottom of the wings so I can't determine the species.


Unspotted Looper Moth (Allagrapha aerea), also really beat up. Usually it has upright tufts on the thorax. An old specimen but a new species for the patch.


One of my favorites, Dark Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus). A common sight.


Here's a Forktails (Ischnura) in the shady undergrowth.



The Bluet (Enallagma) was more approachable. Way more.

The honeybees were still out working on the Burdock flowers. I found one bumblebee who was also invited for dinner...

Crab Spider with a juicy morsel...I wanted to get closer but I didn't want her to drop her well-earned meal. I let her feast in peace.

I'm not sure which species of Crab Spider this is. I found it on goldenrod but I can't decide between the genus Misumena or Misumenoides. Both appear to have yellow coloration like this. I might need to see the coloration below the eye to make a distinction. Any thoughts?


Meadow Spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius)

There is a dead pine tree with bark peeling off of it. I checked underneath one piece and found a moth! Lucky me.

A favorite hiding spot for this species is under bark.


This is a Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides). It's underwings are a rusty orange color but I wasn't able to view them. It's a new one for the patch.

Nearby there is a living pine, an young Eastern White Pine. On it I found a bright beetle hanging on to a needle at eye level.



This is the variable-colored Sumac Flea Beetle (Blepharida rhois). Staghorn Sumac is in the area which makes sense.


This was a new species for me. It's a cool little colorful guy. I see why "beetle people" are so fond of the Coleoptera.

Farther along the path, I found a pile of red on the floor moving and twitching...


Bug nymphs.

And some adults weren't too far off...


These are Eastern Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittata), true bugs. Suckers.

As I was looking at the boxelder bugs, I heard a crash in the bushes nearby. Something fell from the trees very close to me. Then I saw it start slowly moving, crawling up the nearest vegetation. It was huge! Compared to the wasps and bees I saw earlier this thing was three times the size.


It was an Eastern Cicada-killer Wasp (Sphecius speciosus). It seemed to be struggling, moving slowly and making only short flights or hops. I observed it with the thought that it might go grab the cicada it just stung and fly away with it. But there was no cicada and it kept crawling towards me. I can tell it was looking at me as I took these photos.


I could also tell that it wasn't in a good mood!

I wanted to get really closeup shots of it but it's size and awareness told me that I was probably pushing my luck even though these rarely sting humans. I think this was a female and you can see the stinger above. I walked away.

Ten minutes later I came back down the path on my way to leave. The wasp was still there, in the same spot. Strange. Maybe it wasn't long for this world? I decided to try for some closer shots....
This is as close as I got before I realized that she appeared to be pumping her abdomen and the stinger was protruding more and more. I bid farewell right after...

Thanks for checking out my post. All photos are my own. Until next time!


I hadn't seen the update to severe yet. Sigh... That Sumac Flea Beetle is quite something! I've never seen a Red-headed Bush Cricket; I'll have to keep an eye out. Prudent with that giant wasp...

Thank you! Haha I think I tested my luck enough and the poor wasp probably just wanted to be left alone 😅
Hopefully the peaking hurricane season dumps some rain on us...

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Very interesting post!

Thank you :)