Category Archives: Interesting insects

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

Forget honey bees, worry about Monarchs

Don’t misunderstand me. I like honey bees.  And like most people I talk with, I’m aware of the threat to honey bees posed by the latest calamity facing beekeepers, the “colony collapse disorder”.  Managed bee colonies in our country and around the world are dying off at alarming rates. And this is not good. But honey bees are not native to the New World. If all the honey bees in the U.S. were to die tomorrow, agriculture would take a devastating hit, and we would see an immediate… Read More →

Damselflies of Texas

Any damselfly lovers out there? If you’re not sure what a damselfly is, it’s the dainty cousin of the dragonfly. Anyone who’s sat next to a Texas river or lake has likely been visited by one of these colorful beauties. Now there’s a field guide for Texas damselflies from the University of Texas Press.  Called Damselflies of Texas, it is the latest offering from John Abbott, entomology curator at the Texas Natural Science Center, Brackenridge Field Laboratory Insect Collection.  John’s one of our premier insect photographers in the… Read More →

Preview of new Disneynature film

If any of you are of the approximate same age as me, you may have grown up watching the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.  My siblings and parents and I always looked forward to the chance to watch Disney animation or movies like Mary Poppins, or highly entertaining nature films. My how things have changed.  I would be surprised if a 1960s era Disney production could hold the attention of a media-savvy child of the 2000s.  Fortunately, Disney has evolved with the times, and the quality… Read More →

The Mother bug

Sehirus cinctus (see HERE us  SINK tuss) is usually an obscure little bug, bothering nobody and noticed by few humans.  The past week, however, I’ve received several inquiries about thousands of little black “beetles” (actually bugs) crawling over lawns, driveways and even dogs.  Also known as the white-margined burrowing bug, Sehirus cinctus is an example of one of those insects that can go along for years unnoticed, then all of a sudden, BOOM.  They’re everywhere. Sehirus is particularly interesting for its behavior.  The adults and nymphs feed on… Read More →

Stopping catcus moth

Texas is under attack.  From lake-hogging zebra mussels and giant salvinia, to chilli thrips (a new pest of roses) and crape myrtle scale, insects from other countries seem to be entering the state at a record pace.  NPR.org recently published an update on the cactus moth invasion at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134914916.  The cactus moth has undoubtedly been assisted by man, but appears to have made at least some of its journey unassisted by hopping from island to island across the Caribbean from South America. This particular moth threatens the cactus… Read More →

Oak gall midges

I recently received a sample of thousands of tiny (1-1/5 mm) maggots collected from a local yard.  The sample was collected by Susan Bailey of Plano, who noticed writhing masses of these worm-like critters on her driveway and ground under a live oak tree. Now anyone who lives around live oaks knows that for the past ten days or so these trees have been showering the world with pollen and the senescent catkins (male flowers).  These tiny larvae are occasionally reported under oak trees shortly after flowering. After… Read More →

Natural poses of moths

I love field guides of all kinds, but because of my profession I especially enjoy insect field guides.  I’ve come to appreciate well selected photos or artwork that carefully depict an organism’s key identification characters.  There is also a certain aesthetic to a meticulously-posed picture of a series of butterflies, or moths or beetles. You can recognize a quality posed moth or butterfly by the uniformly spread wings.  The trailing edge of the front wing should be perpendicular to the body and the hind wings must be pulled… Read More →

Its the flea’s knees…or not

In this NPR Science Friday video, scientists Greg Sutton and Malcolm Burrows, of the University of Cambridge, filmed fleas jumping.  They then sorted through different theories of how they jumped and concluded that fleas use their feet and not knees to push off the ground and jump on your cat or your dog. The high speed photography is amazing and I especially liked the slo-mo- photography of a flea’s jump compared to the blink of a human eye. An adult flea can jump approximately 13 inches, a little… Read More →

Tiny wonders

Last week my wife and I went to see the latest Cirque du Soleil show called OVO. I had never been to one of these modern circus shows before,  and the insect theme of the show (ovo is Portuguese for egg–as in insect egg) was the hook that my wife thought would get me out of the house.  According to the official description, OVO looks at the world of insects and its biodiversity.  The rather thin storyline is overshadowed by the spectacle of the show, but is centered… Read More →

Rock music a recipe for weight loss?

Paper wasps, in the genus Polistes, are among the most common garden insects in late summer in Texas.  Nearly everyone at some time has seen their umbrella-like nests dangling from tree branches or the eaves of buildings.  While I’ve seen and watched many of these nests over the years, I have to admit I’ve never heard anything unusual.  But, according to a new paper published in Biology and Nature,  for years people have noted a distinct drumming sound coming from some  paper wasp nests. Originally thought to be… Read More →