Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Lanternfly - The New Threat

This little buggy is a new threat to the east coast of the United States. This is a Lanternfly and although they look somewhat plain just sitting around, when they fly you can really see that bright red. 

Lanterflies are native to China, India and Vietnam and were introduced to Korea in 2006. They were confirmed in Pennsylvania in 2014 and soon came to Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia. They prefer to hang out and lay eggs in the Tree-of-Heaven.


From my understanding, the tree-of-heaven is also an invasive species. The adult Lanternflies come out in about July and in the Fall they mate and lay eggs. The female lays between 30-50 eggs and covers them with a waxy film that makes the eggs look like a splat of mud so it's kinda hard to see. The nymphs are black with white dots and have an interesting habit of heading up the tree they are born on in the morning and in the evening they head back down again. If that wasn't interesting enough, they do this as a group so they're pretty obvious.

Both the nymphs and adults feed on plants. They suck the fluids out of the stems and leaves which causes the plant's growth to be stunted or some localized damage or, in the case of fruit bearers, a reduction in their yields. The plants can die in extreme cases. As the Lanternflies feed, they excrete a sugary substance that is referred to as 'honeydew'. This substance can attract insects like ants and wasps, but it also gets taken over by a 'sooty mold'. This mold can blacken the plant which can reduce photosynthesis and affects the plant's quality.

So if you live in Maryland, keep an eye out for... the Lanternfly. 

Friday, August 10, 2018


Although the katydid is in the same family as long-horned grasshoppers, they are more closely related to crickets. These pretty green bugs that look a lot like tree leaves actually do live high up on the top of trees. They lay their eggs in the crevices of the tree bark and on stems and there they overwinter until they hatch in the spring. The adults and young feast on the leaves and they will begin their calling in July. It's been described as "katy-did, she-did" and that is how they got their name. They will die when the frosts come in October and November after laying their eggs to begin another cycle. They will live their whole lives in that one tree. 

This particular Katydid was hanging out on my front door. It does amaze me how many critters I find on my door. I guess it's a safe place to park for the night. I'm going to have to come up with some kind of front door special guest!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Special: The Longhorned Tick

The Longhorned Tick
Photo courtesy of NYS Health Department

I was meandering through the interweb the other day and came upon a story about this little invasive critter that is infiltrating the east coast. Well...I said to myself...this is right up my alley! SO, I did a bit of investigative research to find out a little more about this Asian threat!

Okay, so if you haven't heard, we have a new tick. Somehow, scientists are still a little unsure how the East Asian tick has gotten over to the east coast. These ticks are also referred to as the 'Bush Tick' and the 'Cattle Tick'. The Longhorned Tick was first discovered last year on a sheep in New Jersey. They have since been found in New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and now in Maryland. Yup...Washington County confirmed the first on Friday, 27 July. 

Now although these icky little critters has wreaked havoc in Asia by spreading bacteria that has been potentially fatal overseas, none have been found to carry diseases here in the U.S. The greatest risk is to livestock and pets. Here's the catch, the female Longhorn Tick has found a way to reproduce without the necessity of a male. After feeding, the female can lay up to 2,000 eggs. Can you imagine ladies if all it took was a burger and you had a kid? 2,000 of them! That's some scary stuff there! Anyway, with that kind of power, the Longhorned Tick populations can get carried away really quick. Also, they can bury underground and stay there over the winter and pop up again in the spring ready to go. With fast reproduction and the ability to live through the winter, the Longhorned Tick population can grow quickly and the greatest risk, as I said above is to livestock.

The Longhorned Tick doesn't not have a food preference. It will feed on anything...bird, animal, livestock, pet or human. With the possibility of infestation, livestock and other animals can become weak, anemic or die due to loss of blood. 

So what do we do? Well, right now, you have more to be afraid of with a deer tick that can carry Lyme Disease which has been increasing rapidly. Take precaution when around woods, fields, long grass or anywhere ticks live. Wear long sleeves and pants and spray with bug repellant that contains DEET. Keep watching the news for further developments on this tick.

Blue Dasher

Pachydiplax Longipennis (Blue Dasher)

You can find these guys all over North America and into the Bahamas. They are certainly not rare. They are a part of the skimmer family and the name "Longipennis" means "long wings". Actually, their wings are about the same as other skimmers their size. The females' body is a bit shorter so that may give the impression her wings being really long. The Blue Dasher only grows to about 1" to 1.5" and the males are a vibrant blue whereas the females are more brownish. Both the male and female have the yellow stripes. Blue Dashers live in warm, typically low lying areas near calm, still bodies of water like marshes or ponds.  Adults will sit up in the tree tops at night. The best part about these guys is that they are carnivores!! They eat other insects and, if you're getting the rains like my area has, then you probably have enough mosquitoes to feed a herd of Blue Dashers! They can actually consume 10% of their own body weight each day! The larvae will eat other aquatic larvae, once again with mosquitoes, as well as small fish and tadpoles. The adults will eat almost any flying insect like moths, flies and mosquitoes. 

The fellow in the picture, I pulled him out of a spider web. I don't think there was a spider that lived there, but I didn't want such a pretty bug to just swing there and slowly die. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Giant Ichneumon Wasp

First, thank you to Penni Day for letting me use her picture taken by her husband Doug. Great photo skills! What you have here is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp and they come in different colors like red and black. They are not all black with yellow although I do like this color combo the most. They are like all other wasps and they will sting if they feel that you are threatening them. This particular one is a female and the ginormous spear on her backside is a ovipositor which is use to drill into wood to deposit eggs. The larvae will feed upon other larvae that have already been deposited there. They feed mainly on the larvae of the Pigeon Horntail Wasp. The males, of course, do not have the spear and abdomens (or tails) are a bit shorter than the females. The adult Ichneumon Wasps do not eat at all. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tiger Bee Fly

Okay, so this took me literally forever to find! I looked through moths and horseflies. It helped so much that my photo was so good! LOL It won't stop raining here in Maryland so I was trying to take a picture without getting too wet or my phone! I guess this little guy was trying to stay out of the rain as well. Anyway, I got frustrated and looked up 'flying insect with black wings with white blotches' and up popped the Tiger Bee Fly! Who knew!!

This guy is relatively large. In the photo he's hanging off a bird feeder. He is also completely harmless unless your a carpenter bee, but I'll get to that soon. Tiger Bee Flies are just that...flies. They don't drink blood and they really don't even have a stinger. Adults drink nectar. They're really okay, but their size may freak some people out if they land on you. 

The problem comes for carpenter bees. Female Tiger Bee Flies lay their eggs in the holes made by Carpenter Bees. When the fly larvae hatches, it feeds on the bee larvae. Kinda gruesome. Chances are, if you have Carpenter Bees, then you probably have Tiger Bee Flies too. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I'm Having a Hard Time...

...with birdseed.

Yeah. That's a sprout. 

It is crazy wet here in Maryland. It is SO wet and SO humid that my birdseed is sprouting!! My apologies to the birds, but I'm not changing it until after the monsoon season.