Category Archives: Interesting insects

Posts on insects that are not necessarily pests, but worthwhile knowing more about.

June beetles harmless to trees






This past week I’ve had several inquiries about large, green beetles hanging out around trees.  These have all turned out to be the green June beetle, Cotinus nitida. The green June beetle is a large beetle (3/4 inch to 1 inch-long) related to the infamous June beetle or Junebug–the larval form of which is the white grub pest of lawns.  Unlike it’s cousin, the green June beetle is mostly harmless in urban landscapes, unless you happen to own a fig or peach tree. Green June beetle larvae feed… Read More →




What are blister beetles?






This summer has been blistering in more ways than one.  Besides the blistering temperatures, an inconspicuous beetle, called a blister beetle, has been more common than normal this year. Several species of blister beetles are native to our area and cause concerns, especially to horse owners.  Blister beetles are recognized by their medium to large size (usually 1-2 cm), rectangular head, cylindrical pronotum (the “neck” or portion of the thorax just behind the head), and often plump abdomen with leathery wings.  One of the distinctive features of blister… Read More →




The Texas-sized cicada killer






One of the signs of summer in Texas, and throughout the eastern U.S., is the cicada killer.  Over the past month or two you may have noticed dime-sized holes appearing in your yard or garden.  While many insects (beetles and ants, for example) dig holes, few are so conspicuous as the cicada killer wasp, Sphecius speciosus. Cicada killer wasps are easy to spot due to their large size; they are typically 1-1/2 to two inches in length. The female cicada killer digs homes for her young in home… Read More →




How high can grasshoppers fly?






Because grasshoppers and crickets are so good at jumping, many people are surprised to learn that they flyalso.  Indeed grasshoppers and crickets have pretty strong wings that allow them to travel long distances in search of food and or mates.  Besides long distance travel, grasshoppers can also fly pretty high for their size and weight, as this guy (or gal) on the top of the Bank of America Plaza reminds us. Thanks to Chuck Schechner, reporter for KRLD radio, for sharing this weather cam shot illustrating the capability… Read More →




Tarantulas go a-courting






This has been tarantula week in Dallas. I don’t get too many tarantula calls as a rule; tarantulas are nocturnal homebodies, rarely venturing more than a foot from their burrow…except during mating season. For a short time in the spring (and to some extent in the fall), usually after a rain, male Texas brown tarantulas (Aphonopelma hentzi complex) leave their burrows and hidey-holes in search of–what else?–romance. In some parts of the state dozens of spiders may be seen at once, especially at night along lonely west Texas… Read More →




Poor spiders






Why do spiders get such a bad rap? They include some of the most beautiful and helpful species of arthropods on the planet.  They are extremely adaptable, and make this amazing stuff called spider silk.  Yet, if we can believe the statistics, a high percentage of people (at least in the US) can’t stand to be near spiders. So why do we hate spiders? Is it their eight legs? OK, well maybe that’s a little creepy (I admit that even liking six-legged insects is an acquired taste).  Is… Read More →




Butterflies and moths galore






In case you haven’t been paying attention, this spring has been great for butterfly and moth watchers in Texas.  A few weeks ago I noted the abundance of armyworm moths, and last week I had several questions about all the butterflies on the wing.  This week county extension agents in west Texas reported large numbers of the migratory army cutworm in and around towns.  The picture accompanying this article was sent by Rich and Nikki Lefebvre, Master Naturalists in Plano.  It shows an impressive number of red admiral… Read More →




New(ish) enemy of Coreopsis






Some of you may be lovers of the spritely flower called Coreopsis.  If so, bad news. A tiny leaf-feeding beetle with the tongue-twsting name of Phaedon desotonis has been showing up in occasional outbreaks around the state.  I recorded one in Caddo Mills, TX (Hunt Co.) this month two years ago, and blogger Sheryl Smith Rogers reported (and photographed) an infestation last week in her backyard in Blanco Co. (west of Austin). Mike Quinn provides two more links to information on this native pest for those of you who would… Read More →




Spring is a great time for small things






Few would argue that March and April are a great time to get outside to enjoy the weather in Texas, tornadoes notwithstanding.  But how many think of spring as great insect-watching weather? Well it is. A multitude of insects break their winter dormancy at the same time as their host plants.  This leads to great abundance of interesting subjects for those who have eyes to see. The biggest obstacle to insect watching, I find, is the common inability to “see small”. While there are some impressive large insects–most… Read More →




An inspiration to all survivors






Are you a survivor?  Then maybe you can relate to the story of the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis–at was 12 centimeters long, the heaviest stick insect in the world. It had been as presumed extinct until 2001 when two VERY COMMITTED Australian biologists followed a hunch and climbed up 500 feet in the dark with flashlights to have a look. The story, published in an NPR blog is inspiring and offers a glimmer of hope for anyone who marvels in the diversity of life.  In an age when insect… Read More →