Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday Field notes-- Beetles and Bugs

オオミドリシジミ... Favonius orientalis (the Oriental Hairstreak)

Walking the kids to school this morning I saw the most gorgeous blue butterfly, and couldn't stop to take a picture of it because I had my hands full of crawdads.

Koshi's Zarigani (crawdads)
Koshi caught a boxful of crawdads yesterday and left the whole mess--box of crawdads, bowls of water with more crawdads, nets, dried fish bait--on the stairs while he and his friend were playing.  He attempted to mollify me by assuring me that all the crawdads were to be taken to school and looked after there.  And could I please go to the store and buy a bag of heavy rocks to layer on the bottom of the box.

Hmph.  Clean it up *before* Papa comes home.

click to embiggen

Which is how I ended up with my hands full of crawdads this morning when I noticed something gleaming brilliantly blue over in the bushes.

 I walked over to have a look (box of crawdads occupying both hands, camera hanging uselessly from my shoulder)...  wow!

...or view on Flickr (link in sidebar)
I had no clue who it was, and couldn't do anything about it with, as I say, my hands full of crawdads.  There was nothing to do but go on up to school, hand over the crawdads, and hope to goodness my lovely butterfly would still be in the area when I got back.

In luck!  There he was, just a sunnin' on a leaf...

The ID shot-- orange spots are *not* connected

...I even got a couple of good shots of the back side of his wings (ventral side?) to ID him.  Oooh-- an Oriental Hairstreak!  This sort of thing just makes me wiggle.  And squeal.

It's not even what I was looking for this morning.

I was  looking for Beetles and Bugs this morning-- representatives of Coleoptera and Hemiptera (the 'True Bugs') respectively.  Not that I have any confidence whatsoever in my ability to tell the two apart.  Being able to more or less tell Beetles from Bugs was the task I'd set myself earlier in the week after posting photos to Flickr.  Misidentified photos--Beetles labeled Bugs, and vice versa.  D'oh!  
On the next leaf over-- the first snail of the Rainy season in a pearly shell, smaller than my pinky fingernail

So, after getting several nice photos of the lovely Hairstreak who was kind enough to wait 'til I came back (sans crawdads), I determined to walk a bit and see what I could see.  In the way of Beetles.  And Bugs.  I'd done some research trying to figure out just what the difference is (well, to an entomologist, anyway, if not to the average layperson like me.  Don't ask why this is suddenly so important--suffice to say that I've got a Beetle in my Bonnet.  Or possibly a Bug.).

I wonder why ferns have a non-skid surface on the underside?
Now I needed some friendly critters who would be willing to sit still long enough for me to take a picture or two of them and make a guess as to which camp they belonged in--Beetle or Bug.

Naturally, I found everything but those for the first hour I was out.

Cephalopod?  No--new fern;-)

...beautiful fiddleheads, uncurling toward me, looking more like denizens of the seas than of the forest...

No Bugs.

I can't see with this piece of wood in the way!
Ooh--some eggs on a branch!  I wonder whose?  I looked closer, trying to get a better look at the eggs around an annoying piece of wood stuck to the branch.

オオエグリシャチホコ...Pterostoma sinicum
...piece of wood with legs.  That's no woodchip--that's a moth.  Probably the moth who laid the eggs, or?
Perfect mimicry-- I was completely taken in, until my eyes were only a few inches away.  She never moved, even when I gently brushed a fingertip against her wing.  Just astonishing--I'd have gone on believing her a woodchip had I not noticed her legs.  Not a Beetle, though, so off we go.

Philudoria albomaculata
Three steps or so on, I noticed something yellow down among the leaves and stooped to check.  Mercy, what an enormous catepillar!  Surely one of the fattest I've ever seen--all over hairy, too.    He's going to be 'Takekareha', according to Koshi's insect encyclopedia.  I notice the 'Kare' (curry) in the middle of the name, and wonder whether it's a reference to the color of the catepillar-- as curry-colored a beastie as ever there was.  But not a Beetle.  Pushing on...

Hoverfly on Bachelor's Button (Episyrphus balteatus)
 The reason, in fact, that I've got Bugs and Beetles on the brain this week is a photo I posted in last week's Field Notes--  an unidentified photo of a bright black and mango yellow critter hanging upside down from a flower bud.

Right next to the Bachelor Buttons.
He was still there this morning, he and his fellows,  crawling over the same flowers.

Aulacophora nigripennis.... Order: Coleoptera
I finally got around the other day to looking him up.  Aha!  Kurourihamushi.  I updated the blog post and the Flickr photo with the common name and the taxonomic binomial.  I also, in a moment of rashness, added "Order: Hemiptera" to this photo.  Rong!  And there's a way to tell just by looking at this photo, which order he really belongs in....

アカスジキンカメムシ... The Clown Stinkbug (Poecilocoris lewisi).  The Most Beautiful Bug I've Ever Seen.

This is, without a doubt, the Most Beautiful Insect I've Ever Seen.  I discovered him sitting right in front of my nose, just three leaves over from a small blue-black beetle (bug?) I was trying to photograph.  Didn't come out.  I started to step back in annoyance when something hot pink and glinting gold caught my eye.  Right in front of my eyes, in fact.  He sat quite still while I took his picture... then allowed me to scoop him into my camera bag to take him home so I could show the kids when they got home:-)  He wasn't hard to find in the book, though finding his English handle took some time.  I should have figured it out myself when I put my face close to the bugbox to get a better look at him.  Stinky!  Heavens to Betsy, what a smell!  I wanted to post this photo in a Flickr group I'd found for photos of Coleoptera called "An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles" (so named after biologist J.B.S. Haldane's wry response to someone asking what the Creation tells us about the Creator, to which he replied "If there is a God, He has an inordinate fondness for beetles.")

Oxycetonia jucunda... not a bug!  Beetle!
Before posting my fantastic beetle (so I thought), I decided to double-check.  It would be slightly embarrassing to have my photo bounced out of the group because it wasn't actually a beetle.

Good thing I checked Encyclopedia of Life.  That thar varmint's a Bug.  Hemiptera.  A True Bug, an entomologist would say.  A pro photographer at the Beetle group had posted a very helpful series of photos with an explanation to help amateurs ID their photos.  First:  a beetle's wing covers meet in a straight line down the back (see daisy photo above).  The critter on the daisy is Order: Coleoptera.  Beetle.  Not Bug-- wing covers meet straight down the middle.

Minamitogehemikamemushi (Paradasynus spinosus)
This gentleman, pictured right, who paid a visit to my north window is a Bug.  See how the wing covers form an X shape on his back?  That just screams "Bug!" to a biologist.  In this photo, though, there's one other even easier way to tell.  Click on it so you can see it large, and count his antennae sections.  Did you count 4 or 5?  Bug.  Beetles have 10 or 11 sections (looks like lots of little joints all down the antennae).  Go back up to Upside Down Guy (black and yellow above).  Look at his antennae.  *Way* more than 4 or 5.  Coleoptera, without a doubt.

Bug on left: same as above photo; right: Akasahigame (Cydnocoris russatus)
Can you guess the red insect at left?  If you guessed Bug (Hemiptera), you'd be right.  Wing covers make an X on his back, antennae in 4 or 5 sections.  True Bugs have sucking mouthparts that distinguish them, but which are not always visible nor easy to find.  The Hemiptera include cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shieldbugs, stinkbugs, and others.  And my Exquisitely Beautiful Insect up there?  Look again, and check his antennae:

The Most Beautiful Bug I've Ever Seen.... Order: Hemiptera (antennae in 4 sections)


  1. You had a very productive field day. How nice that you had so much cooperation from your "subjects." Thank you for the bug/beetle explanation. I think I will remember the differences now.

    The Clown Stinkbug is gorgeous. No doubt, blending in with environment is not important if it stinks, and we get to appreciate those beautiful colors as a result.

  2. I just want to mention that the word 'iridescent' popped into my head twice while reading that. And I mention it 'cause I don't think I've ever used it before. I know what it means, and I've seen/heard it used, but it's never before passed my lips or winged its way from my keyboard. And now it has. A small milestone, but a milestone nonetheless!

    The non-skid ferns: Something to do with water flow maybe? Just guessing.

    How does the Clown Stinkbug (which Mr Spell-Cheque purely hates btw) get away with looking so bright? I know I could look it up, but it's way more fun to ask you. :-)

    You wanted me to try a post with two links in, so here's The Beetle Bug Bop and Love Is Like A Butterfly.

  3. I just love these pictures!

    When I was much younger one of my friends, knowing my penchant for spending hours just looking at bugs and spiders, said that she was going to start a magazine just for me, called Hemiptera Today. :-)

  4. Those are some lovely bugs! And, your explanation of how to tell bug from beetle is the first one that has made me understand the difference between them: X and non-X in the middle. I'll never forget that!!!

    Non-skid ferns: The blobs are collections of spores -- placed on the underside to prevent them from flying all over the place when it's raining, and fall easier to the ground when mature? I have no idea; but ferns are pretty anyway. :)

  5. Oh man, that butterfly.. and the Clown Stinkbug! are truly amazing. Your finds put my paltry two spiders lately to shame. Amazing and thanks for sharing, they're simply gorgeous.

  6. Hi, Cary-- very productive (in a non-monetary sort of way...).

    Daz-- two links worked! And, wow! I inspired the use of a new word? Well, I feel privileged:-) And how can Mr. Stinkbug be so brilliantly colored and get away with it? Must be his smell that forestalls predation, rather than camouflage coloration...

    Sachi-- thanks for commenting! Yokoso! Please stop by anytime:-) Next time I write about bugs, I'll title the post 'Hemiptera Today', just for you:-))

    Josephine-- I thought that Flickr group moderator had very clear guidelines on how to tell the difference. I feel so much better, knowing the main lines of difference now, myself.... And-- spores. Of course. I knew that;-)

    Alice-- thanks so much! Is your blog back up yet? The link in the sidebar goes to someone else's blog...

  7. No:( And it's not looking likely to be. I started over at Word Press while I wait google out on the whole situation.

    Ooh, the Captcha is "beedower". Doesn't that bring to mind a lovely meadow, decoprated with flowers, the lazy sound of bees drifting on the breeze..?

  8. @Alice

    Hmmm, sounds like 'relaxed' to me. "My love, bedowered 'neath the Willow's arms, tumpty tumpty tumpty charms"

    I just found summat out. Did you know that most of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to the tune of 'The Yellow Rose Of Texas'?

  9. Or covered in jewels like bedecked...

    No, I can honestly say that I'd never heard anything of the sort. That's a fairly interesting coincidence

  10. Alice-- are you sticking with WordPress and giving up on Blogger? I'll change the url in the sidebar link if so!
    "Beedower"... where did that word come from? It does sound like bees. Somehow, actually, it sounds very medieval to me... I'm remembering a poem... very vaguely... in German I think... oh dear. Can't remember anything anymore.

    Daz-did you make that up or just put that word into another bit of verse? Very nice:-)
    They can? How did you find out e.d.'s poems could be sung to The Yellow Rose of Texas? (I simply *must* know;-)

  11. FIrst comment! Always enjoy your photos.
    I think the 'kare' in takekareha might be 'dead' or 'withered', with 'kareha' meaning 'dead leaf.' Does the adult look like a withered bamboo leaf?

  12. Yes, I've decided to stick with WordPress. I'm not getting anywhere with Blogger and having started over already, it seems like the least amount of work to stay.

    Yes, absolutely change it, thanks! :)

    Ooh, I can see it as a medieval word, it would fit in Beowulf or something similar.

    Oh, oh! Guess what Sage and I ran across at the store! I thought of your shopping posts immediately. She's showing off the one she picked out (for $1.25?! I would only let her get one at that price). She named it Strawberry...and refuses to use it. Oi, kids.

  13. Steven-- Why, thank you very much! And--please comment often:-)) I was joking about the 'kare' meaning 'curry'...but didn't really think about what the name might actually mean. That's the trouble with using Koshi's 昆虫図鑑--nice in one way, because all the Kanji are accompanied by furigana... but all the names are written in Katakana only. Which means I can read them, but not distinguish easily between homonymns... *sigh* Hang on... I will go check... Ooh! You got it exactly!! Takekareha is on the page with all the moths collectively called 'Kareha', including the cryptic moth that I took up there that looks like a wood chip. They all look like withered leaves or detrius when resting. Ping pong! I should send you a cookie:-)) (This is what I get for learning all my Japanese via Okaasan to isshou and Inai Inai Ba...;-)

  14. Alice-- ok, got it changed!
    Yes--Beowulf... or...Oh!! Walther von der Vogelweide! That's what I was remembering! The German Minnesänger of the middle ages. This one, Unter der Linden (under the Linden Trees):

    Under der linden
    an der heide,
    dâ unser zweier bette was,
    dâ mugt ir vinden
    schône beide
    gebrochen bluomen unde gras.

    (Under the Linden
    on the heather,
    where we had shared a place of rest,
    Still may you find there
    lovely together,
    flowers crushed and grass down-pressed.)

    A song of courtly love... don't you think "beedower" would fit right in?

    My goodness, I've fallen down the rabbit hole today!

    Erasers! You found them! Tell Sage we have that exact same pink hamster:-))