|Asheville Natural is a guide to the native wildflowers of the southern Appalachians, with additional information for plant sources, hiking trails in the Asheville North Carolina area, and a few well-chosen links to other sites with Asheville information, wildflower sources, hiking,trail and outfitter information, and botanical resources. This is a non-profit site, created and maintained with love. All information contained on this site is based upon personal observation, and all photos are our own.|
Below: LadyBeetle Life Cycle, Parasitic Wasp, Spider Nabs a Katydid
I've started this new page for Insects because further observation related to my Cicada hunt led me to solve a mystery - or "Unidentified Crawing Object". I had taken some photos of what I thought were newly-emerged Cicada nymphs. They were not - but now I know what they are - Lady Beetles (a.k.a. Lady Bugs or Lady Birds.) Following are photos I took in stages, of the "Convergent Lady Beetle" Hippodamia convergens. For more information and pictures visit the Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinellidae.
Convergent Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens):
If you've seen these things (not more than 1/4" long) all over your plants or house, don't panic! They may look like some invader from outer space but they are the shells of developing Ladybugs, which are VERY beneficial insects for your garden. They feed on aphids and other garden pests. Ladybugs (a.k.a. Lady Birds, Lady Beetles) go through several stages of development and shed their shells each time in the process.
The Pupal Stage: This is the final form it takes before emerging as an adult.
Emerging from its final shell.
I was lucky enough to catch this Ladybug in the act of emerging from its "final" shell, to become a full-fledged adult. It first emerged completely lemon-yellow. Right after emerging it stretched out its underwings (quite long) to get the "blood" flowing into them. As it sat there, slowly hardening off its shell, it gradually turned from solid yellow to yellow with spots to the final more familiar orangy-red color with black spots.
After a brief while, the shell hardens and the "true colors" emerge - the familiar orange-red with black spots.
Unidentified Crawling Object:
I truly have no idea what this is. A bunch were found underground during normal garden digging. I am guessing they're possibly Pillbugs or some other Isopod? But they clearly have wings. In any case, I think they're cute.
Parasitic Wasp - Family Ichneumonidae (Ichneumon wasps) Subfamily Ophioninae, Genus Enicospilus, species unknown
I've been fascinated by "solitary wasps" ever since reading several books by renowned French Entomologist Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915). Solitary wasps are, well, wasps that do not live and breed in colonies (paper wasps, yellow jackets, for example.) Solitary wasps are often parasitic on other insects. Many species are very valuable for insect pest control.
I found the following (expired) wasp and felt compelled to take pictures. Finding information about it was extremely difficult - I still do not know the species name. My guidebooks to insects were virtually useless. But with the help of a couple of sites, I was able to positively narrow it down to the Genus of Enicospilus.
Notice the eyes. The two "real" eyes are the large black spots on the side of the head. The other spots at the top of its head (and there is actually a third almost between the antennae) are called Ocelli, which are a more primitive form of eye. They can detect light but not much detail.
References: University of Minnesota, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve at http://www.cedarcreek.umn.edu/insects/025016n.html says they are parasitic on larvae of Lepidopterae (butterflies and moths.)
Bug Guide at http://bugguide.net/node/view/85343 was invaluable for figuring out what it was, at least as far as Genus. Also a great site for looking up and identifying insects of all kinds.
A Spider Nabs a Katydid - 09/02/08
These shots were taken at night - I watched as the spider attacked a Katydid, did it in, and began to wrap it up.
The Coup de grâce.
A note about my environment - I live in a house deeply embedded in woods at about 2400' feet elevation. The woods surrounding my house consist of beech, maple, oak, a few tulip trees, cherries, and dogwoods. Lots of native spicebush in the undergrowth. Little sunshine in the summer. Normally somewhat wet in spring and dry in summer. I don't know much of anything about moth habitat - except that from experience apparently this is a good place for them.
|A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency I use the "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!|
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