Thursday, October 31, 2013

Good mantids, bad mantids

This sticklike animal with the powerful Popeye forelegs is a Carolina Mantis, Stagmomantis carolina. It's a female, and as is the case with mantids, she's a lot bigger than the male. The Carolina Mantis is our native "praying mantis" in these parts, but they're probably a lot harder to find these days than they once used to be. I made this photograph in Adams County, and southern Ohio is the only place I encounter them. I don't believe I've ever run across one in my heavily developed neck of the woods, which is Columbus, Ohio.

This is the mantid that I run across FAR more frequently than the comparatively diminutive Carolina Mantis, and I bet that's the case with you, too. It's the widespread and ubiquitous Chinese Mantis, Tenodera sinensis, a true giant of a bug. Females can be massive, and this old warrior is probably a good four inches long. I photographed her a few weeks ago on the grounds outside my office, and she's still there. The first truly cold frosty nights will take her out, but unfortunately she's probably already deposited several of her foamy brown egg cases. Each case contains hundreds of eggs, but fortunately the mortality rate is enormous and relatively few of the juveniles will make it too adulthood.

The gorgeous purple-flowered plant is Shale-barren Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, a native that has made its way into the nursery trade. It truly is a fantastic plant, and a total bug magnet. Shale-barren Aster, in this ornamental form, becomes a small bush bedecked with hundreds of blooms, and it flowers nearly to winter. Mrs. Mantis knows well the allure of these flowers for all manner of pollinating insects; that's why she lives nearly her entire adult life hiding amongst its flowers.

Chinese Mantids have an undeniable charisma, and enchant most people who encounter them. The impressive size, coupled with the formidable "praying" forelegs makes for an impressive spectacle. The animals also have a habit of watching you, cocking their pointy triangular heads to track your movements and sometimes rearing up aggressively if pushed.

As you've probably deciphered from the name, Chinese Mantids are not indigenous to the Americas; they are another in a long list of Asian imports. This species was intentionally brought to North America in the mid-1890's, ostensibly as a control for "pest" insects. In my view, the mantis itself has become the pest, and any benefits from them are far outweighed by the damage they do.

The primary issue with Chinese Mantids is that they are indiscriminate in their choice of victims. About anything that can be seized and overpowered is fair game. This includes butterflies, all manner of invaluable pollinating flies, bees, and wasps, and even prey up to the size of tree frogs and hummingbirds. I and others suspect the reason we no longer see the smaller native Carolina Mantis in many areas is due to competition with this Asian introduction.

I must admit, watching a Chinese Mantis hunt is a fascinating exercise. She's patient as can be, and just sits rigidly next to a pollinator-friendly batch of flowers. When an insect takes the bait and alights, the mantis swiftly lunges and snares the victim in an Iron Maiden death grip from which there is no escape.

While making my photos, this hapless Cabbage White butterfly, Pieris rapae, dropped in and I knew it was toast. Camera at the ready, I managed some photos of the kill. Death by mantis is not a particularly pleasant way to go. First, you're crushed in a viselike grip by spined legs, then the mantis begins methodically consuming your body, usually starting with the head. Insofar as I know, no sedating neurotoxins or anything else that can take the edge off this experience are injected - this is pure unadultered raw carnivory.

If only the Chinese Mantids would stick to other nonnative creatures such as this butterfly, most people would probably not have many problems with them. In fact, we'd probably applaud them and hail the release of mantids as a good thing - an all too rare case of an intentional "biological control" introduction that worked. But they don't, and as a consequence mantis predation is just one more threat that many of our declining species of pollinating animals face.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bobcat triangulates on prey, pounces!

OK, time for Monday night at the movies! Here are two more short flicks, courtesy of wildlife cinematographers Laura and David Hughes. That's right - those Hughes! You've seen their work here before, at least if you follow this site with some regularity.

For these films, which star a beautiful Bobcat, Felis rufus, they've returned to one of their magical game trails in Monroe County, Ohio. As you may recall, this is the county where they managed to capture a Bigfoot on a trail cam, last April 1st. You can see that film RIGHT HERE.

This little Bobcat is as real as it gets, and the feline hunter puts on quite a show. Enjoy!

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Video by David and Laura Hughes

In this brief snippet, the inquisitive cat comes right up to mug for the camera. You won't often see a Bobcat that close, because it just isn't possible to get any closer.

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Video by David and Laura Hughes

This film is beyond cool. The Bobcat detects prey lurking in the dense thicket in the backdrop, and stealthily paces to and fro, triangulating on the victim - probably some small rodent. When the cat finally locks in, it rears up, then lunges as if it had been shot out of a cannon! The prey item probably never knew what hit it.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Birding River Otter watches Great Blue Heron

I've featured the videography of Laura and Dave Hughes here many times, and their work with trail cams is incredible. They've been busy, and once again have displayed an unerring knack for proper cam placement. Getting great videos of hard to see animals is more skill than it is luck. You have to be able to read the signs of game trails and other habitats, and pick out the sites that animals seem to  be fixated on.

Dave and Laura certainly did that successfully in the following clip, shot recently in Monroe County, Ohio. It features a River Otter, Lontra canadensis, snacking on a large fish. A Great Blue Heron wings by, and we can see its reflection in the water. The otter certainly doesn't miss the bird, and stops eating long enough to watch the bird go by. Then, the otter's mate swims ashore and joins its partner at the dinner table.

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Video: Laura and David Hughes

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

And now for something completely different: a walking lichen



Every now and again, one sees some mighty strange things out in the woods. Stop to take a breather, lean against a stout tree, let your gaze run over the lichen-shingled bark, and WHOA! One of those lichens just moved! Really, it did!

See that little bump of a lichen, dead center in the photo? It's a walking lichen. For real.

On a recent trip to southern Ohio, I was keeping a sharp eye out for these curious bits of mobile lichen clumps, which is pretty much what one must do to spot them. It wasn't too long before a piece of lichen detached itself from the lichenberg that it was attached to, and began to scuttle off. I gave chase, and was able to make some images of this most curious of beasts.

Ah, the secret to the lichen clump's mobility becomes exposed under magnification. Three legs project from the crusty pile, and we can safely assume three others are sticking out the other side. There's the tip of an abdomen, jutting down from the right rear. It appears we have an entomological Trojan Horse on our hands; a murderous fiend disguising itself with innocent lichen bits, the better to ravage the lesser fauna of the tree trunk. Not only that, but the soldier clad in lichens is much better concealed from those who might be higher on the food chain, such as a Downy Woodpecker.
 
What we've got is the predatory larva of the Green Lacewing, Leucochrysa pavida. These interesting insects are quite common, and I'll guarantee if you examine enough lichen-festooned tree trunks, you'll eventually find one. I toyed with attempting to extricate the critter from its armoring, but decided against it. I probably would have just destroyed the larva, so well attached is its ghillie suit of lichens.


Lacewing larvae are predators, and if you look closely at the left side of the clump, you'll see its long brownish mandibles projecting downward. A homicidal lichen clump, indeed. The larva detaches tiny lichen fragments from the bark, and attaches them to hairs on its upper surface using a specialized sticky silk. Eventually, this is the result, and the debris packet will later become its cocoon. In the interim, the lacewing uses those tonglike mandibles to subdue aphids and other lesser animals, which it then eats.

Here's the adult lacewing. Well, I'm not 100% sure this is the Green Lacewing, Leucochrysa pavida - the adult of the larva featured above - but it's at least very similar. You've probably seen these, as adult lacewings are far more conspicuous than the larvae. Certain species of lacewings are predatory as adults, while others feed on liquids such as honeydew secreted by aphids, and yet others take pollen. But insofar as I know, they are all voracious predators in the larval stage, and few if any of them do it in such style as the lichen-cloaked Green Lacewing, Leucochrysa pavida.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

White hummingbird at Inniswood Gardens: a recap

Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio, the scene of central Ohio's current celebrity avian visitor. This 123-acre park is a suburban oasis and a great birding locale. The leucistic hummingbird detailed in this post and the previous two entries is not the only oddball bird to turn up here. CLICK THIS to revisit a hardy Ovenbird that spent much of winter 2011/12 here.

This is the pathway when one leaves the parking lot and enters the garden. A scenic place to be sure, and a site crammed with nectar-producing flowers guaranteed to sate even the greediest hummingbird's appetite.

This is the "Herb Garden", ground zero for the protagonist of this story. It hardly looks like late October here, what with all of the flowering plants still in bloom. I'd bet that other unusual hummingbirds turn up here in coming years.

A knot of birders stand in the Herb Garden, marveling over the ghostly white hummingbird. Yesterday, when I visited and made these images, Bernie Master and Dane Adams were also present. These guys have stellar abilities with photographic gear, and some awesome equipment. Both have generously shared their work on this site in the past, and once again have allowed me to use some of their images. Their photos are absolutely incredible; it's as if the hummingbird was in hand!

There are two particular species of plant that are still in near peak bloom in the garden that the hummingbird fixates on. The purple-flowered plant dominating the image is Mexican Sage, Salvia leucantha, and the scarlet blooms on the outskirts is Pineapple Sage, S. elegans. It is these species that the hummer most frequently dips into, and if you look closely, you'll see her in the center of the shot. Thanks go to the park staff for placing that feeder, too!

Photo: Dr. Bernard Master

When at rest, the hummingbird often perched in shrubs alongside the garden and kept watch over her domain. The Big Question, of course, is what species is this? All or nearly all white birds can be very tough to identify, especially when they normally wouldn't be white. This animal is leucistic, a genetic anomaly caused by a recessive allele that washes out or minimizes the dark melanin pigments. Thus, the coloration that gives us field marks that we would ordinarily use to help identify the bird are greatly reduced or absent.

So, as reflected in the previous posts, none of us were absolutely sure what species this was, with many, including your narrator, leaning towards a Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus. By this time of year, Rufous Hummingbird is about as likely as anything. Nearly all Ruby-throated Hummingbird - our common and only breeding species - have long fled for the tropics by now, and the hardy western Rufous Hummingbird tends to appear at the tail end of fall or early winter.

Photo: Dr. Bernard Master

After Bernie and Dane obtained their amazing images, it was as if the bird was in hand, or under a microscope. A lot of the SMALL details that are very helpful in making a positive identification and which are quite difficult to see on a moving bird become crystal clear in these photos.

Fortunately, just to the north in the great state of Michigan, resides Allen Chartier. Allen is one of the few licensed hummingbird banders in these parts, and has handled scores of the animals, including rarities (in the East) such as Rufous Hummingbird. It was Allen who confirmed our first state Allen's Hummingbird (ironically).

Photo: Dane Adams

So, I was able to send off plenty of detailed images to Allen for his opinion, and the prognosis is that this is a hatch-year female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Following, in Allen's words, is a concise explanation why this bird is a Ruby-throat.

Photo: Dane Adams

(From Allen Chartier): "Thanks! These really solidify my view that this is a Ruby-throat. The shape of the tail is right for RTHU and wrong for Rufous. In most of the previous photos, the central rects (r1) are shorter than the next ones out (r2). In these photos, r1 looks very similar in length to r2. In Rufous, r1 should be longest. Rufous rectrices are also more pointed than in RTHU, and these photos show some very rounded, not pointed rects. I see no diagnostic shape for Rufous on r2 in the photos."

NOTE: "r" or "rects" refer to retrices, which are the tail feathers. The innermost feathers are numbered 1, with 5 being the outermost.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

(More from Allen on tails): "And finally, take a look at the two tail photos I've attached and look at the distribution of white on the tips of the rects, especially r3. In Rufous the white goes mostly straight across, while in RTHU it is mostly on just the outer vane. The albino clearly matches the pattern for Ruby-throat. I have seen a good number of strong structural characters that support the leucistic bird as a Ruby-throat, while there are only a couple of subtle and subjective characters, none structural, that may suggest Selasphorus."

Photo: Dane Adams

Finally, now that the identification mystery seems to be cleared up, enjoy some stunning images of this amazing snowy-white hummingbird.

Photo: Dane Adams

The long-term prospects for this little gem are, unfortunately, not great. Allen tells me there are no confirmed records of a highly leucistic hummingbird beyond hatch-year. Being leucistic may look cool to us, but it is detrimental to long-term survival. Melanin pigments provide structural integrity to feathers, thus when they are absent, feather wear more quickly and are more fragile. Also, a bright white animal stands out and this probably ups the odds that some predator will snare it.

Whatever this hummingbird's fate, it sure has thrilled the numerous people who have been flocking to Inniswood to admire it.

Thanks to Bernie and Dane for sharing their photos, and to Allen for his hummingbird identification expertise. And kudos to the staff of Inniswood for graciously accommodating the snowy hummer and all of its admirers.


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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

White hummingbird update

The white hummingbird - detailed in the previous post - sucks down nectar from Mexican sage at Inniswood Metro Gardens. I ran over there, camera in tow, today at lunch and was not disappointed. The hummer comes in to feed with regularity, and believe me, you can't miss it. The bird resembles a little ghost as it flits through the ornamental flower beds.

I wasn't the only one there to admire this odd leucistic hummingbird. There were some fellows present with major skills and mad camera equipment, and their photos are stunning. I'll share some of those later, and hopefully a positive identification of the bird, which is looking more and more to be a hatch-year male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

White hummingbird at Inniswood Gardens!

I got a cool email today from Ron Sima, letting me know that his wife Mary Lou had discovered a mostly white hummingbird at Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio, today. Mary Lou, who is a photographer, was not there to take photos of hummingbirds but nonetheless managed some decent captures of the birds. I appreciate her allowing me to share them. UPDATE: Joe Hammond just informed me that someone saw/photographed this bird in the same locale last Saturday, with that report coming to light today. So maybe it'll stick around for a while yet.

Here's our snowy hummer, a striking animal indeed. Rather than an albino, it is no doubt a leucistic specimen. I've written about leucism a number of times, such as HERE. I even featured a leucistic hummingbird once, not that dissimilar to this one, HERE.

I'm sure it was a shock to see an essentially all white hummingbird foraging in the herb garden on a frosty morning. But hummingbirds are tough, and can ride out some pretty rough weather if food is available, and it looks like there's plenty of that in this garden.

Of course, the million dollar question: what species? I pick up faint buffy washes of pigment bleeding through on the sides of the belly in some shots, and that coupled with the overall shape make me wonder if it is a hummer in the genus Selasphorus. If so, it'd most likely be a Rufous Hummingbird. But I'm by no means sure, and we really need some pretty tight crisp images to try and make a call.

Obviously a white hummingbird is going to attract undue attention no matter what time of year it appears. But ANY hummingbird found around here after mid-October should be closely scrutinized as there's a good chance it'll be a Rufous Hummingbird or some of other western species. We're up to five species in Ohio now, and excepting an August record of Green Violet-ear, all of them (including most of our dozens of records of Rufous Hummingbird) have come from October/November.

I'm going to run over to Inniswood tomorrow and try and get some images, and hopefully other people will do the same. It'll be interesting to see if we can figure out the identity of this animal, should it linger.

HERE is a link to the Inniswood Metro Garden website, which includes directions. This site also includes a map of the park and the locations of the various gardens. The hummingbird was frequenting the Herb Garden.

Thanks to Mary Lou Sima for bringing this unusual bird to light, and for sharing her photos.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Singing insects' swan song

Here in Ohio, nighttime temperatures have plummeted and that, coupled with ever shorter days, have stimulated the onset of a riot of color. There is nothing like the explosion of fall colors in the great eastern deciduous forest, and we're nearing the peak in central and southern Ohio. Here, a pair of Jack-in-the-pulpit fruit clusters brightly punctuate a forest floor littered with fallen ash leaves.

The increasingly cool evenings are putting the kibosh on the fantastic fall symphony of singing insects, and I always find it a bit depressing when these charismatic fiddlers begin to wane. We're soon to enter winter's dormancy, when the singing insects - and nearly all other bugs - disappear. They're there, often in egg form, but out of sight and out of mind.

I managed to find and photograph quite a few Orthopterans ("singing insects") this summer and fall, and following are a few pictorial highlights.

This Differential Grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis, is an Orthopteran, but it isn't really a "singing insect". Grasshoppers make rough blatting sounds with their wings that are termed crepitations. It isn't really very musical at all. The singing insects featured below are far more melodic. They also make music with their wings, but in general their sounds are far more pleasing to the ear than the crackles of a grasshopper.

A Black-horned Tree Cricket, Oecanthus nigricornis, on Canada Goldenrod. This stunning cricket is frequent in goldenrod meadows, and sings during the day.

One of the more melodic of our evening trillsters is the Broad-winged Tree Cricket, Oecanthus latipennis. This male is in full song. To sing, tree crickets raise their wings perpendicular to their body, which forms a translucent fan. He then rapidly vibrates the bases of the wings together, which rubs the file on one wing against the scraper of the opposing wing. Voila! Beautiful music! The expansive wing surfaces act like the cone of a stereo speaker, booming the cricket's trill forward. Move a bit to the side of the singer and the song dims noticeably; stand right in front and the volume greatly increases.

Orthopterans are tough and adaptable. They've been here for nearly 300 million years. That's WAY longer than humans (ca. 200,000 yrs). I suspect the songs of insects will still serenade the landscape long after we've managed to overpopulate ourselves out of existence.

This is a female meadow katydid (unknown species) snacking on the grains of grease grass. Orthopterans, at least most of them, eat plants and often common readily available fare, hence their abundance.

A Curve-tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia curvicauda, on the browning leaf of a redbud. If you wish to find and photograph singing insects, you'll want to head out after dark. These animals are mostly nocturnal, and can often be easily found and approached at night.

A Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, Scudderia fasciata. teed up and singing atop a thistle. This is a large insect, but it creates a rather inconsequential song of one or a few zip notes. People are often surprised by the size of the insect, after first hearing the feeble song.

I was delighted to encounter a meadow in Adams County this September that was full of interesting Orthopterans, including many of these. This whimsical looking beast is the Common Virtuoso Katydid, and it has the most ornate song of any of the singing insects. CLICK HERE to hear one.

If you couldn't hear the entire song of the Virtuoso Katydid at the link above, you're not alone. Many of the notes of this species, and other Orthopterans, are at a frequency that is beyond our hearing. Part of this species' song is a soft pleasant shuffling, and that component of the song jumps out to me, and that's how I find them. Many of the Virtuoso's notes are apparently beyond my ear's capabilities.

Most people have no problems hearing Lesser Anglewings, Microcentum retinerve. They're quite loud, and create a castanetlike shuffling sound. They're also drawn to nightlights and often appear on door screens and walls around porch lights.

A personal favorite is the coneheads. Yes, coneheads. That's really what this group of bullet-shaped katydids are called. Coneheads are hardly melodic, but their songs are usually distinctive and in the case of several species, ear-splittingly loud. This is a Round-tipped Conehead, Neoconocephalus retusus, a common species of grassy roadsides and meadows. CLICK HERE to hear its loud trill, which sounds like a shorted out electrical line. It may ring a bell.

Visual identification of coneheads is aided by inspecting their namesake cone. Round-tipped Coneheads have a glossy black line cresting the front of the cone.

This conehead is probably the loudest of them all. It is the aptly named Robust Conehead, Neoconocephalus robustus. CLICK HERE to listen to one. These sound files come from The Songs of Insects, an epic book and website by Wil Hershberger and Lang Elliott. Here's what they have to say about the Robust Conehead: "Can be heard more than a thousand feet away! At close range, it becomes painful to listen to. One would think that the insect would burst into flames from the friction produced from creating such an intense song".

In tight on the greenish unmarked cone of the Robust Conehead. The powerful mandibles - just under the leg - are formidable. Coneheads eat lots of hard seeds, and have the jaw power to deal with such things. I've handled many of them, and they can put a bit of pinch on the soft flesh of your fingers!

This is the Sword-bearing Conehead, Neoconocephalus ensiger. It creates a loud shuffling quite unlike the two previous coneheads. Around here, this species along with the Round-tipped Conehead is a common duet along grassy roadsides at night. The animal in the photo is in full song. It basically "fluffs" its wings and rapidly rubs the translucent areas at the front of the wings together to make its music.

Just a handful of tough singers are hanging on, and even they will soon be gone. I still hear the jerky sputterings of Carolina Ground Crickets, wheezy chirps of Striped Ground Crickets, and the slightly more melodic trills of Allard's Ground Crickets. An occasional grating crackling of a Round-tipped Conehead still issues from the grasses, and the ubiquitous Jumping Bush Crickets give occasional chirps. By and large, the symphony is in intermission until next summer, though.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gentians and bumblebees

A botanical highlight of last weekend's foray into the depths of Adams County was catching peak bloom of the Stiff Gentian, Gentianella quinquefolia. This species has a spotty, localized distribution in Ohio, and prefers rather barren openings. There's a ton of it along the start of the trail to Buzzard's Roost Rock, which is one of the Buckeye State's essential hikes.

The curious bluish-purple flowers look as if they're made out of paper, and the pointed petals often cover the mouth of the corolla.

Most wildflowers are dependent upon the physical transfer of pollen to another plant, and this usually involves the assistance of insects. In the case of gentians, bumblebees are often the dispersal agent. These big brutish bees are perhaps Nature's ultimate pollinating machine. Their size and strength allows them to forcefully push into semi-closed flowers - like gentians - and access pollen that is off limits to lesser insects. It didn't take long before I saw a bumblebee busily making the rounds of the Stiff Gentians, and I set out after it to try to capture some pollination pictures.

The bumblebee has located a flower that has piqued its interest. The color of the corolla and its striped nectar guides are irresistible and the bee is drawn in like a moth to a flame.

After a bit of fumbling about, the animal manages to force its face into the maw of the flower.

A few wriggles and buzzes, and the bumblebee is swallowed up by the gentian flower, eagerly harvesting the nectar at the base of the bloom. Its fuzzy body will get doused with pollen, and then it's off to another flower, thus serving as an effective agent of cross-pollination.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Otter intrigued by heron!

A Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, hunts grasshoppers in a field. These prehistoric looking birds captivate the imagination, and draw one's eye. Not just birders, or other classes of humans, either - other mammalian life forms seem equally smitten with the gangly waders.


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Video by Laura and David Hughes

This is an amazing trail cam video, courtesy of Laura and Dave Hughes, whose work I've featured many times. They've been busy camming at their Monroe County, Ohio sweetspots, and just shared a bunch of really cool videos with me.

In this scene, a River Otter, Lontra canadensis, is snacking away on a fish when a giant Great Blue Heron wings by. The heron's reflection can be seen on the water. The otter watches with (apparent) rapt fascination, turning its head to track the bird. Soon after, the otter's mate comes ashore and joins in the fishy meal. Cute otter hijinks ensue.

I'll probably share some other fabulous Hughes cinematic endeavors before long...

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Cannibalistic lady beetles

Just about everyone knows lady beetles; they're one of our most charismatic coleopterans. Far fewer people would probably recognize this beast, which resembles a six-legged alligator. It is the larva of the (now) most widespread lady beetle in these parts, the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis. Heckuva long name for a 6 mm beetle. We'll just acronym it down to "MALB".

Ill-fated numerous introductions by people and organizations keen on aphid and other "pest" control brought this thing to us. Now, MALB's are ubiquitous and overly abundant. This is the lady beetle that swarms houses in late fall and piles into attics, crevices and other protected niches, much to the consternation of the homeowner.

I was in Adams County yesterday, and made the four mile round trip to the iconic Buzzard's Roost Rock, which is in the heart of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. Even though this is, by Ohio standards, a largely wild and invasive-free landscape, it was shocking how many of these lady beetle larvae were there. A scan of small trees and shrubs would often yield a dozen or more lady beetle larvae.

Like the adult lady beetles, larvae are voracious predators. They'll eat aphids, but also apparently just about anything else small enough to overpower. Supposedly they are avid consumers of moth and butterfly eggs, and that certainly can't be a good thing for our Lepidoptera.

Brutish and thuglike, the MALB larvae are evidently not above cannibalism. Here, a pair of larvae bookend and consume another larva. I saw at least two instances of this yesterday, and I'm pretty sure this photo shows an actual live larva being killed and eaten - not the cast-off shed of a larva. MALB larvae go through five instar stages, molting into a larger iteration with each stage.

This is the pupal stage, which is usually affixed to a leaf.

The ultimate phase of the MALB life cycle is this, the adult lady beetle that many a homeowner knows and despises. That's too bad, as there are numerous native lady beetles, and they are charismatic and beneficial insects. Many if not most of them have suffered due to competition with the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle.

One would hope that humans would learn the folly of introducing nonnative animals, but I have no great hopes that we will ever learn our lesson and quit tampering with "biological control".

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