I spent part of the morning of July 22nd with the Museum’s Marsh Madness Summer Campers scooping up critters from the Wetlands. A goodly number of aquatic insects and other invertebrates were captured and studied, including a Water Scorpion, several Backswimmers, various water scavenger beetles, many dragonfly nymphs and a handful of leeches. (Leeches are always fun to catch – everyone wants to see them but no one wants to touch them.) Two interesting creatures that actually have backbones were also captured by the enthusiastic campers: a Green Treefrog and an Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad, both with tails still attached. I located the cast-off skin of a wolf spider (Rabidosa) hanging from the grasses along the path in Catch the Wind. As spiders grow they must molt, or shed, their skin. The image at right shows what the skin looks like soon after the spider has backed out of and discarded it. The Dogbane near the entrance to the Lemur House has taken a hit by the army of Dogbane Moth Caterpillars (Saucrobotys futilalis) that had been munching on it. Nearly all of the leaves of the plants are gone or have been skeletonized by the caterpillars (image at left), which have since departed and are now, presumably, pupating. Even so, this little patch of Dogbane is a good place to look for insects. In the photos below, a Katydid nymph inspects the edge of an intact Dogbane leaf. A nymph Wheel Bug patrols for prey on the underside of one of the leaves. We won’t see the adult stage of this predatory insect until September or October. By the way, these guys can give a nasty bite, or poke, with their long beaks, so be careful if you feel compelled to pick one up. And finally, a Bumble Bee was caught napping on a Dogbane leaf.
Cicada Killer Update: A second male has been seen patrolling the rocks outside of the Lemur House and I thought I saw a female cruise by on the 26th of July. Some butterflies seen during the period were Spicebush Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Eastern-tailed Blue (many fresh specimens), Dun Skipper, and Horace’s Duskywing.