Red Milkweed Beetles

Brightly colored Red Milkweed Beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) are easy to find as they mate and feast on milkweed in southern Ohio.  These orangish-red, tubular-shaped 3/8 - 1/2" long beetles sport an odd feature that is clearly described by their scientific name.

Red Milkweed Beetle Eyes

A close examination of the beetles will reveal that their prominent black antennae bisect their compound...

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Joe Boggs
Beautiful Beetles on Dogbane boggs.47 Mon, 06/27/2016 - 19:02

Earlier today, I came across one of the most beautiful beetles found in Ohio.  The beetle lacks a common name, but is generally referred to as the "Dogbane Beetle" because it primarily feeds on dogbane.  The beetle's scientific name is Chrysochus auratus, which loosely translates to "made of gold."  Indeed, these beautiful iridescent beetles may look like gleaming spots of gold on the leaves of dogbane, or they may blaze with an array of other shimmering colors depending on your angle to the beetle.  A slight change in viewing angle will cause the beetles to glisten with multiple...

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Joe Boggs

Suction-Cups on the Bottom of Oak Leaves

I'm always amazed at how the population densities of certain gall-making wasps on oak seem to synchronize over wide geographical areas so that large numbers of the same gall appears over a wide region.  I don't know how they do it.  These are very tiny insects and they have an intimate relationship with their host trees; it's best for them not to stray too far. 

 

Oak button galls on white oak are very common this season throughout southwest Ohio; I even spotted some on oaks in central Indiana.  The galls are produced by the gall wasp, Neuroterus umbilicatus (...

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Joe Boggs
Myrmecophiles on Display boggs.47 Mon, 06/27/2016 - 18:16

The term "myrmecophile" means "ant lover."  It's derived from the Greek "myrmex" = ant, and "phlos" = loving.  Myremecophile refers to aphids that have a special relationship with ants.

 

Carpenter Ant with Aphids on OakCarpenter Ants with an Unidentified Aphid on Oak

 

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Joe Boggs

Quercus Quest

A great value added travel joy to the nature and nurture plants-persons within us is trying to figure out the identity of unfamiliar plants. At a Vermont rest area this weekend there were some beautiful oaks (Quercus spp.) with long, maybe 10” long, leaves.  They were in the white oak group, which is a group of oaks with rounded leaf lobes and acorns that develop in one year. Oaks in this group do tend to hybridize readily with each other, but not hybridize with the red/black oak group that have bristle hairs on the tips of the leaf lobes, and which take two years to develop...

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Jim Chatfield
Kathy Smith
Marsonnina Leaf Spot Diagnostics chatfield.1 Sun, 06/26/2016 - 19:10

Marsonnina leaf spot of aspen is something I used to see out West when I lived and worked in Colorado, and maybe once or twice in Ohio, but the example I saw yesterday in Vermont was more about diagnostics. As you can see from this image the Marsonnina fungus causes considerable leaf blotch damage on aspen leaves. Note the pattern however.  The fungus overwinters on twigs and buds and then infects leaves during cool, wet conditions at first leaf emergence. Typically, and as seen here, damage is less or non-existent on subsequent leaf emergence. This pattern is common with many (...

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Jim Chatfield

Ailanthus Webworm Moths

Ailanthus webworm moths (Atteva aurea) are flying to porch lights in southwest Ohio.  In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful moths found in Ohio both because of their coloration and because of what their caterpillars eat.  Caterpillars of this ermine moth (Family Yponomeutidae) feed exclusively on the non-native, highly invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

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Joe Boggs

Sneaky Caterpillars

There are over 1,400 species of moths in North America that belong to the family Geometridae; it's one of our largest families of moths and butterflies.  Yet, their caterpillars often remain undetected until missing parts of leaves draws attention to these sneaky general defoliators.  Look closely at the above image:  can you see the caterpillar?

 

I took this picture after first seeing the leaf damage then finding the caterpillar; however, I almost completely overlooked the culprit.  That's the M.O. of these caterpillars.  Their camouflaged coloration and sneaky behavior...

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Joe Boggs

Japanese Beetles are on the Wing

This past Thursday, I posted that Northern and Southern Masked Chafers (Cyclocephala borealis and C. lurida) were appearing around my porch lights at night in southwest Ohio.  I noted that owing to consistently low Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) populations in recent years, the two masked chafers have largely supplanted Japanese beetles as the dominant "white grub producing" beetles in my part of the state.  However, that may change this season.

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Joe Boggs