Archivos de diario de marzo 2024

06 de marzo de 2024

MBP - Black Bee Fly (Anthrax georgicus)

The Black Bee Fly (Anthrax georgicus) is one of many new insect species to have a common name added to MBP. MBP editors like Mark Etheridge, Dave Webb, and Jim Moore have been supplementing insect pages with new common names, missing Hodges numbers (day-flying Lepidoptera), and useful status and description information. (Thanks, guys!) Kudos to iNaturalist as well for often leading with common name adoption, making various taxonomic groups more accessible. iNaturalist and MBP both maintain robust sets of synonyms to find taxa by multiple names.

Bee flies ARE flies. Remember DI-PTERA (two wings) and also that true flies (Order Diptera) have a space in the common name. Robber flies are flies; dragonflies are not. The bee flies (Bombyliidae ) are all fascinating and specialized in their life histories. BugGuide summarizes the family: "Larvae are mostly external parasitoids of holometabolous larvae (esp. soil-dwelling Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera); a few are endoparasites, predators (esp. on grasshopper eggs), or kleptoparasites; adults take nectar/pollen."

This species is a specialist of tiger beetles!

📸: (c) Adrienne van den Beemt, some rights reserved (CC BY, - Prince George's Co., Maryland (7/10/2022).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:

  • Bill
Publicado el marzo 6, 2024 03:10 MAÑANA por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

MBP - Walnut Husk Fly (Rhagoletis suavis)

This distinctive fruit fly is a specialist on Black Walnut fruit. MBP currently has 11 records spanning six counties for the species, the Walnut Husk Fly (Rhagoletis suavis).

According to the USDA (USDA Forest Service General Technical Report NC-57): "The Walnut Husk Fly breeds and lay eggs in the husks of nearly mature walnut fruits in early autumn. The larvae burrow into and feed on the husk, producing black, slimy husks that stain and stick to the shell. The maggots can sometimes be seen crawling in the husks.

Husk maggots and husk flies do not penetrate into the nut, so the taste and color of the nutmeat are not affected. However, the slimy nature of the husks reduces their value to commercial nutmeat producers because the husk is difficult to remove. The infested husks also make the nuts unattractive and undesirable to the private walnut grower."

📸: (c) Stephen John Davies - Montgomery Co., Maryland (8/10/2022).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Publicado el marzo 6, 2024 03:40 MAÑANA por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de marzo de 2024

MBP - Winged Insect Orders

We need to talk. I feel PTERA-ble. Nearly all of us have been PTERA-ble about understanding even our most common types of winged insects. Many serious naturalists use the order name Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and Coleoptera (beetles), but our pronunciation helps mask their very useful meanings.

Anyone who reads MBP outreach has seen me talk about Diptera, that we probably shouldn't say DIP-tera, but DI-PTERA to highlight what it means. Insects in the order Diptera - the true flies - have two wings. DI (two) - PTERA (wings).

But there are similarly obvious and relevant meanings in our other orders of insects ending in PTERA. Let's have a look. Should we consider emphasis on the PTERA?

  • LEPIDO-ptera - SCALY-winged. Butterflies and moths have their colorful scales on their wings.
  • COLEO-ptera - SHEATH-winged. Those heavy elytra cover the more delicate wings, protecting them when underground, under logs, under bark, underwater.
  • HYMENO-ptera - MEMBRANE-winged. The very thin wings of bees, ants, and wasps.
  • HEMI-ptera - HALF-winged. Many species of true bugs have partly thickened and partly membranous wings.
  • NEURO-ptera. NERVE-winged! So obvious when you don't say NEUROP-tera. The lacewings, antlions, and such.
  • TRICHO-ptera - HAIR-winged. Caddisflies and others.
  • MEGALO-ptera - LARGE-winged, of course. Dobsonflies and those related impressive beasts.
  • ANISO-ptera - DIFFERENT-winged. Note how dragonflies and damselfies have a larger pair and smaller pair of wings?

📸: (Scaly-winged) Rosy Maple Moth in Preston County, West Virginia (7/1/2006).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Publicado el marzo 12, 2024 01:47 TARDE por billhubick billhubick | 9 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2024

MBP - White-throated Sparrows and Supergenes

We're going to learn a lot about supergenes in the coming years. One of the best examples we know of can be observed in any Maryland backyard - the common migrant and wintering species, the White-throated Sparrow. Today's graphic summarizes the differences between "white-striped" and "tan-striped" White-throated Sparrows. White-striped individuals tend to be more aggressive, better singers, and worse parents. Tan-striped individuals tend to be more protective, worse singers, and better parents. White-striped individuals nearly always pair up with tan-striped individuals and vice versa. It's easy to speculate about the advantages of ensuring that mix of strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and genetic variation. Absolutely fascinating and full of implications. Is there an ancient and deeper truth to "opposites attract"? Have you ever noticed how commonly Homo sapiens "introverts" and "extroverts" - these are over-simplified terms, but useful shorthand - pair up?

What else? It's looking like Common Redpoll and Hoary Redpoll are genetically one species with traits that express themselves differently at different latitudes (including climate and habitat).
And those amazing bird examples are eclipsed by the incredible gene expression in the Eurasian shorebird species (and rare but regular North American visitor), the Ruff.

Alvaro Jaramillo did a fantastic job introducing this topic on a recent episode of Life List: A Birding Podcast. I highly recommend listening to that one and subscribing to that podcast if you don't already!
Expression of supergenes:


Publicado el marzo 26, 2024 01:08 MAÑANA por billhubick billhubick | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

MBP - Mourning Cloaks

Incoming reports of Mourning Cloaks are a sure sign of spring. Overwintered adult Mourning Cloaks are among the very first butterflies to become active as temperatures warm in early spring. This is one of many species that benefit from "leaving the leaves", not overly tidying yards in autumn and leaving leaf litter for overwintering species that need it.

The hardy butterfly is Holarctic in its distribution, found throughout much of northern Europe and Asia in addition to most of North America. (I recently saw my first of the season in Monterey, California as well!) This butterfly can be found basking in open woodlands or attracted to rotten fruit or sap runs on trees.

The species seems to favor willows (Salix) as host plants, but will also use aspens (Populus), birches (Betula), American Elm (Ulmus americana), and hackberry (Celtis).

📸: (c) Lydia Fravel - Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/23/2022).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Publicado el marzo 26, 2024 12:20 TARDE por billhubick billhubick | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario