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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Arthropod Mysteries from Camping

    Arthropods never cease to amaze with their incredible diversity. Very often I find "arthropod mysteries" at home or traveling, organisms I can only label with vague title such as "moth" or "bee" or "beetle." Fortunately, there are a lot of knowledgeable people who have been willing to help.

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)


    Storytime. The string of mysteries started before we even left for camping. When we were folding up a canopy in the yard there were a few bugs on the roof inside that needed to be removed. This Japanese Beetle had gotten particularly attached to the inside of the canopy and kept flying back between the folds even after the canopy was no longer standing. It took a little while, but eventually it was coaxed onto a leaf, although as the second picture shows, (s)he still appeared to be reaching for the canopy.
    The Japanese Beetle can be distinguished from other shiny green-and-copper-coloured beetles by the 5 white tufts on its underside. It is actually considered a pest to many gardeners, but they typically only live about a month-50 days.

Plume Moth (Pterophoridae)


    This interesting T-shaped arthropod was was spotted on a camping trip. I initially posted this one on Project Noah as "unknown" but then figured out better search criteria. When I went back and added the identity at that same time another user, AshleyT, must have already been offering an ID at the same time, too.
    The plume moth was resting on our camping-buddy's tent and when (s)he flew away, the t-shape of the wings transformed from almost airplane-like (rather, airplanes are more like resting plume plume moths) to quickly beating soft, fanned wings.


Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)


    This lovely spotted moth was found clinging to the inside of a canopy, trying to make its way out (ironically, the canopy was intended to keep insects from our dinner). A number of little creatures got stuck in there so we frequently had to lead them out, but this little wood-satyr was particularly posed a challenge since I was afraid that I would touch the (eyespotted) wings. Fortunately (unlike the Japanese Beetle) the little wood -satyr was quite cooperative and willing to crawl onto my finger to be taken back to the woods on the other side of the mesh.

Arrowshaped Micrathena (Micrathena sagittata)


    Out of all of the mysterious arthropods, this one was the one that kept me the most puzzled. These spiders were found spinning a web in a car window this summer, and the unknown species has kept be puzzled and wondering for months. We asked two naturalists and they couldn't remember the name (and I don't blame them), so my search criteria was variations of "tri spiked red female smaller black male spider southern ontario long name." It was nowhere in any of my printed nature guides and my internet searches were unsuccessful.
    However, within minutes of posting the photos on Project Noah someone identified the species. Thank you user CindyBinghamKeiser for solving the mystery!
    They may appear to be of a different species given their varying size and colour, however this species displays sexual dimorphism and larger red one is female while the smaller black one is male, presumably her mate.

Anthros and arthros cross paths every day and should you ever feel that you would like a little mystery, try keeping an eye out for invertebrate neighbours. For more pictures from the Pinery see the post A Few Highlights from the Pinery.

References
Canadian Biodiversity Facility. Little Wood-Satyr. 2002. Butterflies of Canada. Retrieved January 22, 2014 from http://www.cbif.gc.ca/spp_pages/butterflies/species/LittleWood-Satyr_e.php

Iannoti, Marie. Controlling Adult Japanese Beetles in the Garden. About.com. Retrieved January 22, 2014 from http://gardening.about.com/od/gardenproblems/a/Japanese_Beetle.htm

Matthews, Deborah. Plume Moths. 2005. Pterophoridae of North America. Retrieved January 22, 2014 from http://www.plumemoth.com/

Bug Guide. Species Micrathena sagittata - Arrowshaped Micrathena. Retrieved January 21, 2014 from http://bugguide.net/node/view/2020

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