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Posts Tagged ‘insects’

Signs of Fall

Signs of Fall are everywhere.  Most of the leaves have dropped from the trees around our house, leaving the windows to the rapidly decreasing amount of sunlight each day.

This fellow showed up on our front porch about a week ago.  He didn’t have much to say for himself; in fact, he was rather stiff and quite a bore!  We gave him a beverage and tried to make him feel at home.

This seemed to perk him up a bit.  At least he showed some recognizable facial features!  Unfortunately, they (the facial features) began to deteriorate after only one night.

Clearly one of our neighborhood busybodies– aka squirrels– had been chewing his ear, er, nose off!  The stronger beverage didn’t seem to make him feel much better.  Oh well.  We’ll see how he looks by the time Halloween is here.

Meanwhile, the other neighborhood busybodies, the box elder bugs, were busily doing their thing.  Whatever that is.  They seem to be done reproducing, and have taken to swarming in spots where they are completely annoying.

at least it’s outside the window

One of the things they do, according to my internet sources, is try to find ways inside crevices when it starts to get cold.  This they have been doing with some alacrity.

Bo tried to get rid of some of them with the shop vac, to no avail.  They can see well enough to fly away as soon as he gets close!

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Katydid

We had a fairly eventful week, and I took a variety of photos– but mostly on my phone, not my camera, and it’s difficult to download from the phone.  So here’s a post that incorporates the photos from my camera.

I came home from work on Monday to see a leaf of lettuce inside a mason jar on the counter.  “Is somebody in there?” I asked Bo.  It turns out this odd-looking insect was clinging to our screen door, so he captured it to show me.

It is a katydid, a relative of grasshoppers and crickets.  It eats leaves and makes noise like a cricket.  It also looks just like a leaf.  After we stared at it for awhile, we took it out to one of the deciduous trees in the yard and released it.  A few times throughout the evening, I went out to check on it, and it fooled me each time into thinking that it had left, when really it was just blending into the leaf.

The only troubling thing was that most katydids have much longer wings and more of a long, tapered shape (almost like a maple seed wing).  Here’s what I mean:

So, what happened to ours?  My first thought was that a bird chomped on it, but only managed to get its wings before it escaped.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it was just in a nymph stage, and hadn’t developed its wings yet.  Despite its odd stubby appearance, it really didn’t look torn or damaged at all.  Katydids go through a whole series of nymph stages before they become adults.  This actually cleared up another mystery preserved on my camera:  what kind of strange insect was on the leaves of our basil plant?

It must have been a less-developed katydid nymph!  Aha!

Now, to worry about our basil getting eaten…

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More Box Elder Bugs

Those little amusing bugs in the back yard that I wrote about almost 2 months ago are becoming less amusing these days.

To put it bluntly– they’re everywhere!  They still don’t bite or sting, or even eat the plants we’re trying to grow, but they do seem to flock to the trailing thyme and other ground cover we’re trying to encourage.  And, some of them are flying now!

I tried some more Google searches, this time on “box elder bug infestation” instead of just “box elder bug.”  It’s interesting how different the results are with the addition of that one word.  Of course most of my results this time were .com sites trying to get me to buy their pest control products:  bug sprays and foam sprays to seal up my house to keep the bugs out once the weather gets cold and they seek shelter inside.

This species goes through life cycles, which means that there are successive stages of growth separated by molting into the next stage.  I guess this explains why there are teeny tiny flame-red bugs running around with slightly larger flame-red companions, accompanied by really large flame-red critters and the grey ones with red accents, some of which possess wings.  The non-commercial sites (like those hosted by various university extensions) point out that the bugs prefer certain kinds of buildings to get into during the cold season:  tall, with wood siding with lots of nooks and crannies, preferably on a hillside, with lots of southern and western exposure.  Hmmm.

Well, some of the easiest remedies for knocking back the population of box elder bugs are close at hand:  dish soap, and a shop vac.

The sites I looked at for information on box elder bugs included the University of MN Extension,  Animal Spot, and North Dakota State University Extension.

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