Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A new find on the Blue Ridge Tract trail

I took this hike during the latter part of August and even thought a bit of time has passed I still wanted to share what I saw because one of the species was new to me and I thought interesting.  My walk started like any other as I went down the fire road headed toward the wetland area.

I saw several Zabulon Skippers (Poanes zabulon).

Zabulon Skipper, Poanes zabulon

I also found this Red Spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) that looked fresh like it had just emerged.

There weren't too many dragonflies around but I did manage to take a photo of this Common Whitetail ( Libellula lydia).

On one of the plants by the stream I found these eggs with tiny nymphs crawling about.

The egg cases were interesting. Notice that black outline of two triangles side by side, surely that is a diagnostic characteristic.  They looked like little leaf footed bugs from the way their legs were shaped even at this young age and I labeled the photo as such but I have since changed my mind and decided they are Brown Marmorated Stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) like the ones that have been invading our homes these last couple of winters. It in an invasive insect and first reported in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001 and now it has spread to surrounding states.

As I walked on up the hill I began to look for leaf rolls to open up. Inside this one I found a Green Stink Bug (Acrostemum hilare).  I sure didn't expect that.

Hummmm...what is in this one? There is really a lot of leaf damage. I work in the city and I never see damage like this on the leaves but out here in the wilds of West Virginia the trees are full of holes and evidence of insects feeding.

I try to open these slowly and carefully so I don't disturb the critter too much. At first I just peaked into the end to see what was there.  Look at the antenna on this critter, they are folded back on themselves. Looks like this is the rear end.  Then it rattled in the leaf roll almost causing me to let go.

Since that strategy didn't scare me away it turned around to take a peak.  Ah ha! I've seen this before.

The night before I found one of these at my porch light when I was taking photos of moths. I hadn't really given it much thought until I found it rolled up in this leaf except for the fact that it had really really long antennae which is about five times the length of its body. It is a Leaf rolling Cricket (Camptonotus carolinensis). They form a flap which is folded over and pulled down with its legs and then from silk glands in its mouth it seals the edges shut.  They hide here during the day and come out to feed at night.  The females crickets have ovipositors that are upturned over it's back. They are wingless or to use a fancy word they are apterous.  They are also the only species of Gryllacrididae (raspy crickets) found in the U.S. So that was my new insect, not particularly pretty but certainly interesting.

Above is the one on my deck. I read that it likes to eat aphids at night but it might have trouble getting past this ant on guard at a nearby burr.

Just as I turned off the road onto the Jimmy Vardis trail I spotted two evergreen bag worms on two different trees. This one let me take a photo before it sunk back in and closed the top tightly. It was almost the size of my thumb. I went back later and they were completely gone. 

Fork-tailed Bush katydid (Scudderia furcata) hiding in plain sight.

This Spicebush Caterpillar was probably the find of the day.  I just happened to notice it on a low plant on my way back to the car.  It had probably crawled from the spice bush on the other side of the trail to this plant and was now in the process of turning into a chrysalis. 

Here is a top view where you can see those large fake eyes it is known for.  Below you can see it's round little head and the sling (see arrow) it has made to secure itself to the stem.  I stayed and watched for a while but nothing was happening except that my stomach was growling, so I left it in peace after taking a dozen or more photos.

Enjoy more outdoor adventures at Camera Critters.


cat said...

Great series of critter shots!

Kcalpesh said...

Awesome! Lovely colors and great captures!!

EG Wow said...

I've never seen a spice bush caterpillar before! It's so different looking! I'm also impressed by your photos of the eggs.

Michael said...

Great walk there. Some really interesting critters. Well spotted and captured.

Marbel said...


eileeninmd said...

WHat a great walk, love all the critters. I've never seen some of the bugs.

Dave said...

Great series of shots. The colours and detail are lovely.

Eye of a Camera Blog

NatureFootstep said...

oh my, you really found a great many cool tiny creatures, didn´t you? I really enjoyed seeing this. :)

I started a new Macro challenge, something for you maybe? Next one starts wednesday evening.

JayLeigh said...

It's so great that you saw so many creatures! I very much enjoyed reading about them and seeing your wonderful pictures. The butterfly is really beautiful.

Kerri said...

Oh my goodness - these are FABULOUS! Wonderful shots and such an education learning about them all! LOVE this post!