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Antlion Facts

OTHER NAMEDoodlebug. FAMILYMyrmeleontidae TAXONOMYMyrmeleon formicarius Linnaeus, 1767, Europe. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSLarge, very long lacewing. The head and thorax are short and stout, and the abdomen is very elongate. Body is brown with tan markings; antennae are thickened apically. Wings very elongate, narrow, and hyaline. Venation is mottled brown, black, and white. Larvae are robust and ovoid-shaped with large curved jaws. Body is adapted for burrowing backward through sandy soil. DISTRIBUTIONWestern Europe. HABITATA wide variety of habitats, especially sandy desert or savanna regions. BEHAVIORAdults are active at night and sit on foliage during the day. The elongated body and brown coloration of the adult serve as crypsis as they lie flat against a twig or branch. Larvae quickly burrow deep into the sand to avoid predation when the pit is disturbed by anything larger than a small prey item. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETAdults are generalist predators, capturing prey on the w…
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Moth Lacewing Facts, Diet, Habitat

FAMILYIthonidae TAXONOMYMegalithone tillyardi Riek, 1974, Cunningham’s Gap, Queens- land, Australia. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSThe moth lacewing is a relatively large, robust insect with an appearance similar to that of a dull hepialid moth. The wings and body are dull brown, and the body is covered with numerous long hairs. The wings are folded over the body. The larva is fossorial and scarabaeiform in body shape. DISTRIBUTIONSoutheastern Queensland and northern New South Wales, Australia. HABITATHigher elevations, often on sandy soils. BEHAVIORAdults emerge in masses to form large mating aggregations or swarms composed of many more males than females. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETIt is not clear if adults feed, but the larvae eat root exudates of plants. Ithonids have been recorded erroneously as predators of scarab larvae. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGYThe female has a genital plug upon emergence, which is appar- ently displaced during copulation. CONSERVATION STATUSNot listed by the IUCN. …

Green Lacewing Facts

TAXONOMYMallada albofascialis Winterton, 1995, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSRelatively small lacewings. The body is elongate and delicate, with broad wings that have characteristic open, “chrysopidtype” venation. The body is light to dark green in color, with red patches on the prothorax and head. The face also has a distinctive white area above the mouth. The larva has an elongate body and carries a trash packet within special curved hairs on its back, used for camouflage. DISTRIBUTIONNorthern Territory and coastal Queensland, Australia. HABITATForested areas. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETAdults feed on honeydew and flower nectar. The larva is an arboreal generalist predator feeding on a variety of soft-bodied arthropods, especially mealybugs (Hemiptera: Margarodidae). REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGYAdult females lay eggs on long silken stalks in patches of 10–15 eggs. CONSERVATION STATUSNot listed by the IUCN.

Beaded Lacewing Facts, Diet, Habitat

TAXONOMYSpermophorella maculatissima Tillyard, 1916, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSRelatively small lacewings. Short, narrow body, with wings held vertically over the abdomen. Wings have speckled black, brown, and white pattern on wing veins to aid in camouflage. Body and wing veins are covered with long setae. Newly hatched larvae are elongate with short jaws. Later instars unknown. DISTRIBUTIONQueensland, Australia. HABITATArid regions, particularly in open sclerophyll forests. BEHAVIORAdults remain motionless during the day, with the antennae held out in front of the head. They sway their bodies when potential predators are near. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETAdults probably are generalist feeders. The larvae of all known berothids are obligate predators on subterranean termites. Larvae presumably use an allomone to subdue their termite prey. First and third instars are active feeders, whereas the second instar is a sedentary, resting stage. REPRODUCTIVE …

Snakeflies Facts, Diet, Habitat

Evolution and systematicsAn enormous abundance and diversity of raphidiopteran fossils occur in Jurassic and Cretaceous deposits, within the Mesozoic era. The extraterrestrial impact that occurred 65 million years ago probably led to the extinction of most snakeflies. Raphidioptera from the Tertiary belong to the two extant (non-extinct) families. They represent living fossils. Raphidioptera are currently considered the sister group of Megaloptera and Neuroptera, and all three orders constitute the superorder Neuropterida at the base of the Holometabola— the group of orders containing species that undergo complete metamorphosis. The order Raphidioptera comprises two homogeneous families: Raphidiidae, with 185 species, and Inocelliidae, with 21 described species. The estimated number of extant species may be around 250. Physical characteristicsRaphidioptera have narrow bodies with an elongate pronotum, movable head, and two pairs of subequal wings whose forewings range from 0.20 to 0.…

Alderfly Facts, Diet, Habitat

TAXONOMYHemerobius lutaria Linnaeus, 1758, Europe. OTHER NAMESFrench: Mouche du Saule; German: Gemeine Wasserflorfliege; Danish: Dovenflue. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSAdults are 0.52–0.72 in (13–18 mm) in length and blackishbrown in color. DISTRIBUTIONOccurs in Europe and into Russia. HABITATLarvae inhabit the depths of still waters and muddy backwaters of rivers. BEHAVIORDuring spring and early summer adults are found on plants near the water; they fly only when it is sunny and warm. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETLarvae feed on worms, insect larvae, and other small freshwater animals. Adults occasionally take nectar from flowers with easily accessible nectaries. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGYAfter mating, the female deposits dark gray eggs on leaves of littoral vegetation and then cleans the newly laid eggs. Larvae crawl into the water and scurry to the bottom, where they tunnel in the silt. After two winters the larva leaves the water and pupates for two weeks. The greatest numbers of adults ar…

Eastern Dobsonfly Facts, Diet, Habitat

OTHER NAMESEnglish: Hellgrammite, toebiter, bass bait (larva); French: Grande mouche Dobson (adult). TAXONOMYHemerobius cornutus Linneus, 1758, Pennsylvania. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSThe adult is 2 in (50 mm) long, with a wingspan up to 5 in (125 mm), and the larva is 2.6 in (65 mm) long. The head is almost circular and the prothorax square and slightly narrower than the head. The wings are translucent gray with dark veins and cells with white spots. The mandibles of the male are as long as half of the body length, curved and tapering to the tips and held crossing each other. The mandibles of the female are shorter. DISTRIBUTIONOccur east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. HABITATLarvae live in fast-flowing water. BEHAVIORAdults are nocturnal and secretive and are seldom seen during the daytime, when they hide under leaves in the canopy of trees. Larvae have been seen swimming forward or backward in a snakelike fashion, but they usually crawl. FEEDING ECOLOGY…

Australian Cycad Thrips Facts

TAXONOMYCycadothrips albrechti Mound and Terry, 2001, Australia. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSAbout 0.08 in (2 mm) long, color varies from golden yellow to light brown. Forewings are broad, as in other members of the family, but third antennal segment bears two unusually inflated sensoria. Large males have pair of stout, thornlike setae near tip of abdomen; these setae scarcely developed in small males. DISTRIBUTIONCentral Australia, near Alice Springs. HABITATBreeds in the male cones of the cycad Macrozamia macdonnellii. BEHAVIORBreeds in a particularly hot and arid area, has only been seen to fly late in the afternoon when the humidity rises. At that time, both sexes fly in swarms from the male cones on which they have fed and produced larvae, and each adult carries about 20 pollen grains on its body. Concurrently, a powerful odor is given off by any mature female cone, and this attracts the flying thrips, and induces them to crawl inside with their pollen load. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND …

Thrips Facts, Diet, Habitat

Evolution and systematicsAlthough recorded as fossils from the lower Permian, most fossil thrips prior to those in Cretaceous Lebanese amber are equivocal. Currently the group is considered part of the Paraneoptera, together with the Psocodea and Hemiptera. Two suborders are recognized: the Tubulifera with one family (Phlaeothripidae) and the Terebrantia with eight families (Merothripidae, Melanthripidae, Aeolothripidae, Adiheterothripidae, Fauriellidae, Heterothripidae, Thripidae, and Uzelothripidae). Species in the Merothripidae and Melanthripidae retain more ancestral features than other thrips, and the Uzelothripidae is represented by a single highly aberrant species. Currently, about 5,500 species are recognized, but there are many undescribed species in tropical areas. Physical characteristicsAdult and larval thrips are unique among insects in retaining in the head only the left mandible, the right one being resorbed by the embryo. The maxillary stylets form a suctorial feeding…

Shore Bug Facts

TAXONOMYAcanthia coxalis Stål, 1873, Cuba. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSSmall, reaching 0.14–0.16 in (3.5–4 mm) in length; broad and flattened. Color varies widely from light to dark brown, mottled; lateral margins of pronotum are pale. Dorsum densely covered with short hairs. Legs are short, robust, adapted for walking and jumping. Wings complete or partially reduced (proportions of morphs vary). Forewings have well-marked veins and translucent membranes. Larvae are like adults but much smaller and wingless. DISTRIBUTIONTexas (United States) through Chile and Argentina and the West Indies, principally along coasts; lives at elevations up to 11,480 ft (3,500 m) in Peru. HABITATSalty, brackish, and freshwater swamps and muddy beaches of seas, lakes, and rivers; at floodtide they climb on grasses. Hardly seen on the mud and seldom collected. BEHAVIORThey walk, run, or jump quickly on the soil and fly readily if disturbed. Much time is spent grooming the legs and antennae. FEEDING ECOLOG…

Kissing Bug Facts

OTHER NAMESEnglish: Bloodsucking conenose; Spanish: Vinchuca (Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), Chinchorro (Ecuador), Churumbo (Peru), Chinche negra, Chinche gaucha; Portuguese: Barbeiro. TAXONOMYReduvius infestans Klug, 1834, South America. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSFlat when unfed and globose when fully fed. Grows to 0.83–1.18 in (21–30 mm) long. Dark brown to almost black, with yellow square spots along the abdominal margins; legs somewhat paler and wings dark brown. Head long and cylindrical. Compound eyes are large and set nearer the base of the head; also a pair of prominent simple eyes. Antennae and legs are long and slender. Sexes similar. Larvae look like adults but are smaller, dull grayish brown, and wingless. DISTRIBUTIONMost of tropical and temperate South America south of the equator, from northern Brazil and Ecuador through Patagonia (southern Argentina) up to an elevation of 13,123 ft (4,000 m); their distribution is linked to the movement of humans w…

Staining Bug Facts

OTHER NAMESEnglish: Cotton bug, cotton stainer; Spanish: Chinche negra (general), chinche guacha (general), chinche tintórea (Uruguay), chinchorro (Ecuador), churumbo (Peru); Portuguese: Barbeiro, percevejo manchador. TAXONOMYDysdercus albofasciatus Berg, 1878, Corpus, Misiones Province, Argentina. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSNearly oval and elongate. Back is black, with a transverse whitish-yellowish stripe; venter is bright red. Antennae and legs are long and slender. Larvae smaller, wingless, bright red. DISTRIBUTIONTropical South America, following the distribution of their host plants. HABITATCanopy and flowering and fruiting twigs of malvaceous shrubs. BEHAVIORAdults are mostly solitary; larvae often are gregarious. Adults fly readily if disturbed. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETBoth adults and larvae prefer maturing or mature seeds; they inject saliva into them and suck the resulting liquid. When no fruits are available, they go to flowers, buds, or growing twigs. REPRODUCTIVE BIOL…

Rhodesgrass Mealybug Facts

TAXONOMYSphaerococcus graminis Maskell, 1897, Hong Kong. OTHER NAMESEnglish: Grass-crown mealybug, felted grass coccid, Rhodesgrass scale. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSEllipsoid to nearly spherical and about 0.11–0.16 in (3–4 mm) long. Purplish brown and covered dorsally by a felted, waxy, brittle, whitish to yellowish coating. Openings at the anterior and posterior ends expose the body, with a tubular, waxy white filament protruding from the anal end. First larval instar is ambulatory; the remaining instars and adults are legless. DISTRIBUTIONOf Asiatic origin but now almost cosmopolitan, chiefly in warmer parts of temperate zones. HABITATCrown, base, leaf sheaths, and stolons of forage grasses and lawns. BEHAVIORThe first instar larva walks and changes resting sites; thereafter, they are legless and remain in place for life, soon starting to secrete their felted, waxy coating. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIETAdults and larvae take sap from several grasses, chiefly cereals. Newly born larva…

Spiny Soldier Bug Facts

OTHER NAMESSpiny predator stink bug. TAXONOMYPentatoma maculiventris Say, 1831, Louisiana, United States. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICSElongate, about 0.35–0.55 in (9–14 mm) long. Dull yellow to tan with small black punctures and a dark spot at the rear; sometimes marked with purplish-red. Fore thorax with a prominent spine on each “shoulder.” Antennae are five-jointed. All the legs are about the same shape and size, and adapted for walking. Basal part of the forewing is stiff; the distal one is translucent. Sexes are alike. Larvae are broader, wingless, and dotted with red, cream, and black. DISTRIBUTIONTemperate North America and the West Indies; introduced for pest control to European and Far East countries. HABITATCanopy of trees and shrubs, several field crops, fruit orchards. BEHAVIORDiurnal, surveying on foot the canopy of plants and searching for prey and egg-laying sites. Prey is located by sight, and tracks are followed with the antennae and beak. Adults fly quickly when dis…