The Yard List(s), Part 27

Time for the end-of-summer update on my project to list all the leafminers and sawfly larvae I can find in my yard, along with all the plants I’ve eaten. It’s definitely starting to get harder to add new species to the lists. On September 16 I remembered we had planted a white wood aster in the area under the old apple tree that is now engulfed in ostrich ferns, so I crawled under the ferns to see if there might be a mine of Liriomyza limopsis on the aster.

The aster was immaculate, but right next to it I noticed a little brown patch on an enchanter’s nightshade (Onagraceae: Circaea canadensis).

I took a closer look, and as I hoped, it turned out to be a leaf mine for which I’d been specifically watching all summer without success:

Leafminer #187: Mompha terminella (Momphidae). From above, I couldn’t be sure it was a mine rather than “window feeding,” in which an insect feeds externally on the lower leaf surface, leaving the upper epidermis intact…

…but a look at the lower surface revealed the frass that the larva had pushed out of the edges of the mine, as is characteristic of this species.

Here’s an adult I reared from a similar mine seven years ago:

This inspired me to look once again for mines of an undescribed Mompha species that feeds on bedstraws (Rubiaceae: Galium spp.). I’ve never found mines in the yard before, but Julia once had an adult land on her in the vegetable garden, so I know the species is here. I went over to a patch of wild madder (G. mollugo) and had a look. No mines to be found, but I noticed a brown tip on a blade of grass poking out of the wild madder patch:

Holding the blade up to the light, it seemed I had finally found a “grass miner moth” (Elachistidae: Elachista) in my yard. But on closer inspection, the frass pattern indicated a fly, and there was a metallic black puparium inside indicating Cerodontha incisa (Agromyzidae), which I’d already listed as leafminer #79 back in June.

Here’s the puparium removed from the mine:

This 1.5-mm wasp, which I suppose is a miscogastrine pteromalid, emerged from the puparium on September 19.

You may recall that this time last year, the woolly bear caterpillars were busily cutting down the blue mistflowers (Asteraceae: Conoclinium coelestinum) by our front door (and all around our yard). Well, the plants are all doing well this year, and so far the woolly bears have left them alone. Here’s the one by the front door:

On September 17 I noticed a single leaf mine on that plant:

Leafminer #188: Liriomyza carphephori (Agromyzidae). Four of the paratypes of this species were reared from mines I found on devil’s beggar-ticks (Bidens frondosa) in our front yard on October 8, 2016, and I think this is the first mine I’ve seen in the yard since then. On both hosts, the mine typically starts out as a contorted squiggle at the tip of the leaf and then stretches out into a meandering linear mine toward the leaf base, but in this example the whole mine is bunched up at the leaf tip.

Another thing I’ve been watching for all summer is sawfly larvae on elderberry (Adoxaceae: Sambucus nigra). In the past few years I’ve found Lagium atroviolaceum (Tenthredinidae) just 50 feet or so into the woods from our yard, and right at the edge of the yard I once found a larva of another, unidentified tenthredinid among some berries as I was gobbling them up. Repeated visits this year to the various elderberry bushes the birds have planted around the edges of our yard turned up nothing, but then yesterday evening when I waded into the wild raspberry thicket to check on a persimmon sapling we had planted there this spring, I found two of the unidentified larvae on a small elderberry plant I hadn’t realized was there.

So that brings the total to 48 different sawfly larvae I’ve found in the yard this year. Unfortunately both of these larvae had ichneumon eggs attached behind their heads, so their identity may remain unknown until I can find some un-parasitized ones in some future year.

Leafminer #189: Coptotriche crataegifoliae (Tischeriidae). I found a single mine of this species today on our medlar tree. To my knowledge, this is the first tischeriid mine anyone has ever found on medlar. Medlar has traditionally been known as Mespilus germanica (Rosaceae), but some botanists treat it as Crataegus germanica, and apparently this moth agrees (though I’ve also found its mines on Amelanchier and Aronia, so this isn’t really a strong argument for accepting that medlar is just a thornless hawthorn with big, tasty fruits).

The clean appearance of this mine is explained by a tiny hole at the beginning on the lower surface, through which the larva expels all of its frass (right above the “i” and the “s” in the photo below).

I checked out a “real” hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) nearby and found one more new species for the list:

Leafminer #190: Stigmella oxyacanthella (Nepticulidae). At least, I’m pretty sure it’s this species, which I’ve reared from both hawthorn and apple in my yard in the past. The mine of this species isn’t really distinguishable from the mine of S. scintillans (#114), but S. scintillans has yellow larvae that are present from June to August, and S. oxyacanthella has green larvae that are present in September and October. I’m basing my ID on the freshness of this mine; hopefully I’ll find some green larvae in the next week or two to remove any doubt.

The apparent yellowish mottling in this backlit photo of the mine, and the darker mottling surrounding it, is actually a colony of aphids on the underside of the leaf:

I think the older ones look pretty sporty with their four green spots.

And finally, the “plants I have eaten” update…

111. Apple (Rosaceae: Malus pumila) – fruit
112. False Solomon’s seal (Asparagaceae: Maianthemum racemosum) – fruit
113. Black nightshade (Solanaceae: Solanum ptychanthum) – fruit
114. Sweet potato (Convolvulaceae: Ipomoea batatas) – root
115. Sunflower (Asteraceae: Helianthus annuus) – fruit/seeds
116. Hazelnut (Betulaceae: Corylus ‘Medium Long’) – nut

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The Yard List(s), Part 26

Before I launch into the latest leafminers from my yard, I have a few sawfly updates. On July 11 I had collected this spotty larva on black raspberry:

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It burrowed into soil to pupate five or six days later. Alas, on September 8, this ichneumon wasp emerged, much like the one that emerged on August 26 from the un-spotty larva on red raspberry.

Since a tachinid fly emerged from a larva I found on blackberry, it’s looking pretty unlikely that I’ll get any adults of these mystery Rubus-feeding sawflies. I guess there’s always next year…

On September 1 I had found these larvae feeding together on a hazelnut leaf, and the larger one matched the ones from which I’ve reared Arge willi (Argidae) in the past, but I wasn’t sure if the smaller ones were the same thing.

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On September 7 they still had red heads…

…and they looked the same on September 11, but on the 12th they had brown heads and resembled the larger larva (which had already spun a cocoon by September 7), so they are in fact all Arge willi:

Sawfly #47: Caliroa sp. (Tenthredinidae), on red oak (Fagaceae: Quercus rubra). On September 5, right next to the leaf mines of Tischeria quercitella, I found a solitary “slug” sawfly larva feeding on the underside of a leaf. I didn’t mention it in my previous post because I wasn’t certain it wasn’t a younger version of the same species I’d found on Chinese chestnut, but now that I’ve finished watching it develop I can confidently add it as another distinct Caliroa for the yard list—after #26 on quaking aspen, #36 on shadbush, #39 on Chinese chestnut (Caliroa ?lobata), and #43 on pear (Caliroa cerasi). When I found the larva it had recently molted, and its head and legs were colorless, but it was evident from its shed skin that the previous instar had had a brown head and legs. (The “floating” fecal pellets in these photos are caught in a spider web that was spun across the underside of the leaf.)

Here’s the same larva the next day, with its head and legs now colored in. I caught it at an awkward moment when its body was twisted, showing a full suite of abdominal prolegs.

This was the final instar, and it had molted to a prepupa when I checked on the morning of September 10:

In contrast with Caliroa lobata, the larva never got more than a slight hint of yellow on the thorax, and the head and thorax never got quite as dark as in that species. Also, C. lobata is consistently gregarious, and this species seems to be solitary. On September 13 on a walk in the woods behind our house, I found recently hatched larvae that I think are C. lobata (again on red oak), and I learned that even at this stage they have a distinctly yellow thorax and dark legs and head. Here’s what their “window feeding” looked like from above; the dots to the right indicate where the eggs were laid:

The same scene from below:

And a closer look:

On to the leafminers (interspersed with some other creatures found in the garden).

Leafminer #181: Liriomyza sp. (Agromyzidae), on amaranth (Amaranthaceae:  Amaranthus hybridus). I found several of these mines in the lower vegetable garden on September 8 while browsing on cherry tomatoes and ground-cherries. I’ve only seen these mines once before—when Julia found some on a farm just over the border in New Hampshire—and I’m reasonably sure they don’t represent any of the Liriomyza species known to feed on amaranth (L. huidobrensis, L. sativae, and L. trifolii, all of which are polyphagous species that I’ve never found in New England). This species likes to switch back and forth between the upper and lower leaf surfaces, as you can see here:

On September 11, Julia was turning the compost in the upper vegetable garden and found a nest… no doubt belonging to the same voles who have been relentlessly cutting down the bean plants all season.

Leafminer #182: Stigmella rhamnicola (Nepticulidae), on common buckthorn (Rhamnaceae: Rhamnus cathartica). I am by no means a native plant purist, but there are certain plants that don’t “play well with others,” and which we try to pull up whenever we find them on our land: common buckthorn, glossy buckthorn, multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, Japanese barberry, Morrow’s honeysuckle, and black swallowwort. Several of these plants are utilized by native leafminers—in my last post I showed mines of the beetle Sumitrosis rosea on bittersweet—and common buckthorn is another example. I wrote about its use by Stigmella rhamnicola seven years ago; as I noted then, this native moth is surely much more common in New England now that this European plant is widespread here. On September 12 I spotted a couple of small plants that had sprouted up among the brambles in the “upper nut orchard,” and when I pulled them up I found several old, aborted or predated mines:

I also recently found some mines of the native Stigmella rosaefoliella on some multiflora rose that is just outside what I can reasonably call my yard, so I don’t get to add that species to the list (yet…).

On the morning of the 14th, while washing the kale leaves we had picked for breakfast, Julia found a cabbage white caterpillar with a mass of braconid cocoons. These cocoons (and the caterpillars) are a common sight in the hoop house right now, but this one still had a freshly emerged braconid larva that hadn’t started spinning its cocoon yet:

Later that morning, I decided to check on the small American elm tree at the west edge of the yard to see if any new leafminers had shown up since I last looked. It did not disappoint.

Leafminer #183: Phyllonorycter argentinotella (Gracillariidae).

Leafminer #184: Ectoedemia ulmella (Nepticulidae).

Leafminer #185: Stigmella apicialbella (Nepticulidae).

A search of other plants in the yard turned up one more new species for the year:

Leafminer #186: Ectoedemia quadrinotata (Nepticulidae), on cultivated hazelnut (Betulaceae: Corylus ‘medium long’). It’s theoretically possible that this mine was made by E. virgulae, but I’ve reared E. quadrinotata from the yellow birch in my yard in previous years and have never seen any evidence that E. virgulae is here. This is also identical with the E. quadrinotata mines I’ve seen on hazelnut elsewhere.

Here’s one of the ones I reared from yellow birch, displaying the four spots (per wing) that give it its name:

I’m undecided about whether this little excavation at the tip of a blue spruce needle (from one of the trees at the north edge of the yard) deserves to be called a mine. If I get to the end of the year and find that my yard leafminer tally is at 199, I might have to call upon it to get to an even 200, but we’ll ignore it for now…

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The Yard List(s), Part 25

Remember a few days ago when I showed photos of a Cameraria larva mining in a red maple leaf and wondered if both maple-feeding species have such dark larvae?

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(The second photo is a backlit close-up of the mine at the right side of the first photo.) Well, take a look at this mine I found on September 5 on a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) behind the chicken run:

I think we have our answer. I reviewed my photos of mines from which I’ve reared the two species, and I’m pretty sure the dark larva (Leafminer #161 for my yard list) is Cameraria aceriella, and the pale larva with dark markings (Leafminer #172) is C. saccharella. I went back to check on the red maple mines, and unfortunately I won’t be able to track their progress. The larger mine had progressed some but then a predator had torn open the upper epidermis and removed the larva:

The larva in the smaller mine had been devoured by the larva of a eulophid wasp, which had now pupated in the middle of the mine:

There were a few other Cameraria mines on nearby red maple leaves, but the larvae in them look the same as the ones on sugar maple. I’ll try an keep an eye on the situation.

Leafminer #173: Tischeria quercitella (Tischeriidae), on red oak (Fagaceae: Quercus rubra). At last, the BugTracks mascot (see the banner at the top of this blog) has made an appearance in my yard!

Leafminer #174 / Sawfly #44: Profenusa thomsoni (Tenthredinidae), on gray birch (Betulaceae: Betula populifolia). Earlier this season, I had found mines of two other introduced leaf-mining sawflies on the paper birch sapling at the edge of my yard, but I hadn’t checked the gray birch sapling next to the black walnut in the “upper nut orchard” until now. There were several old, tattered mines of P. thomsoni on it.

Leafminer #175: Aspilanta argentifera (Heliozelidae), on the clump of sweetfern (Myricaceae: Comptonia peregrina) on the other side of the walnut. I’ve now found three of the six species in this newly described genus in my yard this year. Let’s see if I can also find A. viticordifoliella on Virginia creeper; the other two don’t occur anywhere near New England.

Leafminer #176: Ectoedemia ?similella (Nepticulidae), on red oak. This mine more or less matches the description of E. similella, but there are two undescribed Ectoedemia species known from oaks in the eastern US (at least one of them occurring in Massachusetts), and I’m not sure how their mines differ. The single mine I found already had an exit slit (at lower right in the photo below)…

…so I was surprised to discover that the larva hadn’t left yet.

Within a few hours, the larva did find its way out of the leaf:

Leafminer #177 / Sawfly #45: Profenusa sp. (Tenthredinidae), on the same red oak sapling. To decide between P. alumna and P. lucifex I’d need a close look at the larva and count the segments on the antennae and legs, although only P. lucifex has been documented feeding this late in the season.

I found another one of those lower-surface Marmara mines on tall blue lettuce, this one on a plant growing by the door to the shed. It appeared to me at the time that this mine entered the leaf midrib and continued to the base (evidently entering the stem, but there was no visible mine there). Now that I look at the photos, though, it appears that the midrib mine just passes by the leaf blade mine without interacting with it, and I think the larva is still in the blade where one of the main lateral veins meets the midrib. I’ll have to take another look at that today. None of the other mines I’ve been monitoring has shown any sign of entering the midrib. I do think the mine on the midrib is another Marmara though (same species or a different one, I couldn’t say).

The midrib mine is easier to see in this photo I took without the flash (this is a section closer to the base of the leaf):

And here’s the midrib mine disappearing into the stem:

Next to the shed, at the south end of the yard, is part of a big white pine tree that we cut down several years ago to let in more light. Because the pine was crooked, and because it fell on top of a small black cherry tree that is still alive, it isn’t lying flat on the ground, and there is now a tangle of dense vegetation growing through and around the two fallen trees. This jumble of dead and living vegetation, which we’ve enhanced by piling brush under and next to the pine, is a great wildlife habitat feature, and the catbirds are especially fond of it. It’s also a good place for unwanted plants to get a foothold before we notice them, and after inspecting the tall blue lettuce I noticed a big Oriental bittersweet vine (Celastraceae: Celastrus orbiculatus) twining up some of the branches of the bent-over black cherry (which are now vertical and acting like trunks). I uprooted the vine and pulled it free from the cherry, then laid it down on the ground to check it for evidence of the one leafminer I’ve ever seen on bittersweet. I wasn’t disappointed.

Leafminer #178: Sumitrosis rosea (Chrysomelidae). This native beetle mines leaves of a variety of legumes (Fabaceae), but somehow it has decided that bittersweet (both native and nonnative) and wood nettle (Urticaceae: Laportea canadensis) are also acceptable hosts. I found several old, long vacated mines on this bittersweet vine.

Here’s another mine where the larva (at right) died for some reason while it was very young; at left you can see the oval eggshell embedded in a small pit in the leaf chewed by the mother beetle.

On the same bittersweet vine, I found two examples of what seemed to be aborted underside tentiform mines of a gracillariid moth. I figured they must have been a cherry-feeding species and that the female had goofed and laid a few eggs on the vine that was twined around the cherry; the larvae had developed a little bit before dying due to the unsuitable host. This sort of thing is known as “xenophagy.”

Note the object at the lower edge of the “mine” in the above photo, which looks about right for an eggshell of a gracillariid. Here’s the same “mine” backlit:

And here’s the other “mine”:

I found one other interesting thing on one of the bittersweet leaves, which it is now clear was the same phenomenon:

These mine-like features were not made by larvae feeding inside the leaves; they are places where a leafhopper inserted rows of eggs side by side! If you didn’t notice them before, look back at the two backlit views and you can see that the first “mine” has punctures indicating the insertion points of three eggs; the second one has six, and in the upper-surface view of the third example, there are seventeen. As for the “eggshell,” I think it’s actually a scale insect. It’s amazing how often they happen to position themselves at the edges of leaf mines so that they appear to be eggs. Take, for example, the one at the beginning of a Cosmopterix clemensella mine on a sedge leaf (there is a close-up of the scale here):

Leaf (stem) miner #179: Ophiomyia sp. (Agromyzidae), on wild carrot / Queen Anne’s lace (Apiaceae: Daucus carota). I was excited to find this mine on the evening of September 5:

No Ophiomyia is known to feed on wild carrot, but Julia and I found a bunch of similar mines on an isolated clump at Black Rock Forest in New York late last August while conducting our survey for leaf-mining moths there. The puparia in those mines were all black, and only eulophid wasps emerged from them. The puparium in the above mine (visible as a bulge along the upper margin of the stem) was whitish; unfortunately it turned out to be empty already.

In this close-up, the pair of little black anterior spiracles of the puparium are visible poking through the stem epidermis at far left, and there is a longitudinal opening associated with those—along with a more conspicuous transverse slit to the right of them—indicating that the fly has already emerged. I spent a good chunk of yesterday pulling up wild carrot stems around the yard, and I found six stems with intact puparia (plus one more empty one, and one or two that seemed to still have larvae in them). To give a sense of how sparsely distributed these mines are, this is how many stems I had to inspect to find a half dozen of them (note Brenda in the background; she followed me around for most of the time that I was pulling them up, and was often literally underfoot):

All of the mines were confined between two nodes in the stem as in the example shown above. John van der Linden has observed similarly constrained stem mines (both agromyzid and Marmara) on Ageratina altissima, Polymnia canadensis, and Veronicastrum virginicum in Iowa.

When I found the first mine yesterday morning, I ran inside to get a camera, and in my hurry to get back outside I didn’t bother to put my shoes back on. This turned out to be a mistake, as my right pinky toe soon met with an unseen bee, who left this in it:

Leafminer #180: Keiferia sp. (Gelechiidae), on clammy groundcherry (Solanaceae: Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla). While Brenda and I were nibbling berries and pulling up wild carrot stems between the two largest rows of red raspberries, I noticed some mines on the perennial groundcherries growing beneath them. These groundcherries pale in comparison with the annual ones that are also in our yard, in terms of both quantity and deliciousness of fruit, but I guess they’ve earned their keep now.

Running the mines through my Physalis key, they would seem to be the work of the undescribed Keiferia species that has been reported only on the glandular-haired variety of P. heterophylla. Elsewhere in the yard, as I passed another patch of clammy groundcherry, I thought I spotted the first flower of the season out of the corner of my eye, but it turned out to be a big yellow crab spider waiting for lunch to drop by:

When I came around to the driveway in my wild carrot-pulling / stem miner-hunting expedition, Julia exclaimed that the garden loosestrife (Primulaceae: Lysimachia vulgaris) in the adjacent perennial bed was all sawfly-eaten. Sawfly larvae show up on these plants every year, and I’d been watching for them, but I guess I hadn’t looked in a while:

Sawfly #46: Monostegia abdominalis (Tenthredinidae). This sawfly, like garden loosestrife, is introduced from Europe. I’ve never seen it feeding on native Lysimachia species, like the fringed loosestrife (L. ciliata) growing wild on the other side of our yard. I think it’s great that the plant and the sawfly have found each other here; garden loosestrife spreads pretty aggressively, and it’s nice to have something keeping it in check. There were no green leaves left on any of the plants yesterday, and I thought I was going to have to settle for a photo of one of the shed larval skins that were draped over some of the remaining leaf fragments, but then I spotted this one straggler munching away on a leaf that had a little bit of green left on it:

I’ll close with a few miscellaneous sightings from yesterday that are neither sawflies nor leafminers. Toward the southeast corner of the front yard, there is a little aspen sapling that started out this spring as an unambiguous bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), and has gradually turned into a quaking aspen (P. tremuloides) over the course of the season. I’ve been checking it regularly because it has already yielded two sawfly species that I haven’t found elsewhere in the yard, and a week or so ago I noticed that a clutch of red-humped caterpillars (Notodontidae: Schizura concinna) were beginning to defoliate it. These show up in the yard every year; sometimes on cherry, other times on persimmon. When I checked on them yesterday, there were a few hanging out in plain sight…

…but most of them were hanging out on the underside of a leaf, where they were in varying stages of becoming “mummified” by braconid wasp larvae spinning cocoons inside them.

A few goldenrod plants were displaying the lovely reddish galls of Schizomyia racemicola (Cecidomyiidae) among their flowers.

And several inches of a branch on one of our asparagus plants was encrusted with hundreds of eggs of some sort of owlet moth (Noctuidae).

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The Yard List(s), Part 24

If you’ve been following along throughout my cataloging of the leafminers and sawfly larvae I’m finding in my yard this year, you may remember that in the first half of July I found several free-living sawfly larvae—representing at least two different species—on raspberry and blackberry. I have no idea what they are beyond family Tenthredinidae, so I collected each one hoping that I can rear some to adults. One was this plain-headed larva I found on blackberry on July 11 (which seemed to be the same as #32 on red raspberry):

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It burrowed into soil to pupate on July 15, and I didn’t expect an adult to emerge until next spring, but on August 26 I noticed something moving in the jar. Alas, it was an ichneumon wasp which had been living as a larva inside the sawfly larva:

This prompted a thorough checking of all my jars of soil, which turned up a fourth adult from my jar of five aspen-feeding Caliroa sawfly larvae, and, darn it, a long-dead tachinid fly from the #32 red raspberry sawfly larva, which I had collected on July 8, and which had burrowed into soil on July 11.

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We’ll see how the few other Rubus sawfly larvae fare, although I think they may have all been of the other type, with a dark marking on the head. In the meantime, a number of other species have appeared in my yard in the past week.

Sawfly #39: Caliroa ?lobata (Tenthredinidae), on Chinese chestnut (Fagaceae: Castanea mollissima). On August 29, I noticed some patches that reminded me of the “window feeding” caused by gregarious Caliroa larvae on the undersides of oak leaves.

I’d never seen this on chestnut before, but I flipped the leaves over and found two larvae still grazing away on the smallest spot (there were several much larger patches but the larvae that made them had already dropped to the ground to pupate).

Not all Caliroa larvae have been described, but among those that have, the yellow-sided thorax and dark head and legs make these a perfect match for C. lobata, as documented in a paper I recently published with Dave Smith*. So far that species has only been reared from oaks, but all sorts of oak-feeding insects have turned up on our Chinese chestnuts, so it won’t be surprising if these turn out to be the same thing.

One of them molted to a prepupa on September 2:

The other did the next day, and both burrowed into soil as soon as it was offered. But back to August 29…

Leafminer #161: One of two maple-feeding Cameraria spp. (Gracillariidae), on red maple (Sapindaceae: Acer rubrum). A couple of tiny mines just getting started on this leaf:

As far as I know, Cameraria aceriella and C. saccharella can’t be distinguished at this stage, although I wonder if both species have such dark larvae. I’ll keep an eye on them… The mine on the right is just 8 mm across, but in a backlit closeup, we can see that the larva has already molted once. (The head capsule is near the bottom of the photo, and the rest of the shed skin is right by the tip of the larva’s abdomen.)

Right near the chestnut and maple, I noticed this long, narrow, linear mine formed entirely on the lower surface of a grass-leaved goldenrod leaf (Asteraceae: Euthamia graminifolia).

Ophiomyia euthamiae (Agromyzidae) was described from a series of flies I reared from similar mines found within 100 feet of this one, but each of those mines switched to the upper surface, where the puparium was formed. The single mine like this—with everything including the puparium being on the lower surface—produced an adult of O. maura, which is a species I’ve already included on this year’s yard list based on upper-surface mines on Solidago goldenrods. (Yes, oddly, on every other known host, O. maura forms exclusively upper-surface mines.) So I’ll have to find an unambiguous mine of O. euthamiae before I can add that species to the list.

Leafminer #162: Mompha argentimaculella (Momphidae), on evening primrose (Onagraceae: Oenothera biennis).

I’ve been watching for this one all summer on the abundant evening primrose around the yard, and finally spotted this one mine out of the corner of my eye when I went down to check on the tiny baby chicks, who had wandered through the fence that surrounds the chicken run but weren’t getting into too much trouble.

Leafminer #163: Phytomyza lactuca (Agromyzidae), on tall blue lettuce (Asteraceae: Lactuca biennis), on the other side of the chicken run. I had never before seen a mine of this species, which mines exclusively on the undersides of leaves, and I only noticed this one because this particular leaf had flopped over.

I found several other P. lactuca mines on the same plant, but in each case the puparium had an exit hole of a parasitoid wasp. I thought it would be nice to rear an adult of this species, so I visited a bunch of other tall blue lettuce plants around the yard, flipping leaves over, without finding anything. Until, that is, I got to the exceptionally tall plant by the vegetable garden that I showed at the end of my previous post. I found a mine there that still had a larva inside, but when I took a picture of it, the mine seemed to have a continuous central frass line, indicating a moth rather than a fly:

I thought I was seeing things, but a photo with my better camera setup showed this more clearly:

Leafminer #164: Marmara sp. (Gracillariidae), on tall blue lettuce. The only previous indication that there is a lettuce-feeding Marmara is a series of observations Mike Palmer made in Oklahoma, involving empty or aborted mines that were either formed entirely in the stem or began on the upper leaf surface and led into the stem (or crown, in the case of basal rosettes). Could this be the same species? I have no idea; either way, it doesn’t have a name. I didn’t try for a super close-up for fear of squishing the larva, but this backlit shot shows enough detail to confirm it’s a Marmara:

I found a few other Marmara mines on this same plant, all of them visible only on the lower surface. I’m going to wait until the larvae are nearly mature before collecting the leaves, since lettuce leaves don’t last long once picked. A week later, they haven’t made much progress; Marmara larvae are not the speediest of leafminers.

Leafminer #165 / Sawfly #40: Metallus rohweri (Tenthredinidae), on blackberry (Rosaceae: Rubus allegheniensis). The raspberry leaf-mining sawfly, M. capitalis, appeared in my yard back on June 18 and its second round of larvae showed up a little while ago, but M. rohweri, which has just one generation per year in Massachusetts, waited until August 30 to make its appearance.

Leafminer #166: Aspilanta ampelopsifoliella (Heliozelidae), on a Virginia creeper vine (Vitaceae: Parthenocissus quinquefolia) growing up the trunk of the silver maple. An aborted mine, but recognizable by its prolonged initial linear portion. This species was, until a few weeks ago, known as Antispila ampelopsifoliella**.

Leafminer #167: Glaucolepis saccharella (Nepticulidae), on red maple.

This is Brenda, who accompanied me on my leafminer hunt that day.

Leafminer #168: An unknown insect on Siberian iris (Iridaceae: Iris sibirica).

I found this single mine on a leaf right along the driveway. It doesn’t look like Cerodontha (Agromyzidae), and the only other known iris leafminers is Macronoctua onusta (Noctuidae), which makes narrow leaf mines in the spring, later feeding within leaf sheaths and boring in flower buds, stalks, and eventually the rhizome. If this is a mine of that moth, that would mean it’s been there all year and I somehow didn’t notice it until now. I’ll have to look for feeding signs of older caterpillars.

Sawfly #41, on the same pussy willow (Salicaceae: Salix discolor) that has already hosted two generations of another sawfly species this year (#9). On the morning of August 31, before heading out for our last day of dragonfly surveys, I dashed out to collect some willow leaves to feed some other sawfly larvae I had found at work a few days earlier, and I discovered that these larvae had just hatched from a cluster of eggs on the underside of one of the leaves:

Whereas the previous willow sawfly larvae had grazed on one leaf surface throughout their development, these had begun eating holes in the leaf immediately after hatching. On September 2 when I went out to collect some more leaves for the ravenous larger larvae, the leaves more often than not had clusters of still unhatched eggs on the undersides (which doesn’t bode well for the longevity of those leaves):

Most clusters looked like the one above—translucent shells with black-headed embryos visible inside—but in one, the eggs had cloudier shells and a pair of red eyespots at one end.

The latter turn out to represent the former at a later stage; this morning I found that all the eggs in the second photo had hatched, and the ones in the first photo are now cloudy with the red eyespots.

Leafminer #169: Cameraria betulivora (Gracillariidae), on yellow birch (Betulaceae: Betula alleghaniensis). Since it’s getting to be the time of year for all sorts of Cameraria to show up, on September 1 it occurred to me to check the yellow birch at the edge of the woods where I’d found this species a few years ago. I parted the grapevines that have engulfed the tree, and there the mines were:

Leafminer #170: Chirosia gleniensis (Anthomyiidae), on sensitive fern (Onocleaceae: Onoclea sensibilis). And right next to the yellow birch was a single old mine made by three larvae of this fly, in the very patch of ferns I had checked multiple times this year without success.

If you look closely, at the left side of the photo below you can see the cluster of three whitish eggs from which the larvae hatched.

Leafminer #171: Antispila cornifoliella (Heliozelidae), on gray dogwood (Cornaceae: Cornus racemosa). Similarly to the pair of Metallus sawflies on Rubus species, there are two Antispila species on dogwoods in my yard, one of which (A. freemani) appeared early in the season and is now in its second generation, and the other is just now making its first appearance.

In a backlit view, we can see that the larva started by making a narrow linear mine along a lateral vein and the midrib, causing the reddish discoloration seen above.

Sawfly #42: Arge willi (Argidae), on hazelnut (Betulaceae: Corylus ‘Medium Long’). Every year this species appears on our cultivated hazelnut in large numbers, and I’ve been wondering why they aren’t showing up this year. Finally on September 1 I found a single larva matching the ones I’ve reared before, hanging out with several young ones with reddish heads. Whether these turn out to be the same species remains to be seen.

Also on that hazelnut was one of those green lacewing larvae that run around with fluff piled on their backs. It was in constant motion, making it incredibly difficult to get a shot that was at all in focus.

Sawfly #43: Caliroa cerasi (Tenthredinidae), the pear slug, on our newest pear tree. It baffles me that this is considered to be a pest worth worrying about; I never find larvae in large numbers, and they just do a little “window feeding” nibbling here and there (whereas some of the other sawfly species in my yard do defoliate entire branches). I think I had noticed some nibbles a little earlier in the season, but on the evening of September 1 I made a more concerted effort to find the larva responsible for them. Here is some lower-surface window feeding, as seen from above and below:

Unlike most Caliroa species, which feed strictly on the lower surface, the pear slug may feed on either surface, and it was next to an upper surface feeding patch that I found a shed skin confirming that it was actually a Caliroa larva doing the feeding.

Julia walked over and joined the search, and she was the first to spot the actual larva:

To the uninitiated it would appear to be just a wet lump of poop, but here’s its face peeking out from under its shroud of slime:

And on that note, I’ll sign off for the weekend!

* Eiseman, Charles S. and David R. Smith. 2020. New sawfly (Hymenoptera: Argidae, Tenthredinidae) host records from northeastern North America. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 122(2): 299–307.

** Nieukerken, Erik J. van and Charles S. Eiseman. 2020. Splitting the leafmining shield-bearer moth genus Antispila Hübner (Lepidoptera, Heliozelidae): North American species with reduced venation placed in Aspilanta new genus, with a review of heliozelid morphology. ZooKeys 957: 105–161.

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The Yard List(s), Part 23

Over two weeks since my last update. In a few days my life will become less busy (I think?) and I should be able to explore my yard—and write about what I find in it—more regularly. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve bumped into over the past 18 days… as usual, I have some updates on previous finds as well as new ones to report.

On July 14 I had collected three Agromyza larvae mining in sunflower leaves in our vegetable garden, which could conceivably have been A. ambrosivora (which I found mining ragweed leaves in our yard), Arudbeckiana (which I found mining Heliopsis leaves along our driveway), or another species that hasn’t been reared before. All three larvae exited and formed puparia within a few days. One emerged as an adult female on July 29:

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I needed a male to find out what species they were, but luckily there were two puparia left. On August 9, this braconid wasp emerged from one of them:

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And this pteromalid emerged from the remaining one on August 23, so I guess I’m out of luck.

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In Part 22, I wrote about some agromyzid fly mines on apple mint (leafminer #150) that seem to match those of the European species Phytomyza tetrasticha, which isn’t known to occur in North America. Since August 9, least two different species of eulophid wasps have emerged from those mines, including several eulophines (probably Pnigalio)…

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…and a single tiny entedonine, just 0.6 mm long.

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On August 20, the first of 18 adult flies emerged.

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It was a female, but there have been plenty of males since, including this one…

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…so we’ll be able to confirm their identity eventually. I can’t help but wonder if these and the oregano miners I found earlier this summer are the same species; Phytomyza origani and P. tetrasticha are closely related (both belonging to the obscura subgroup of the Phytomyza obscura group), and what are the odds that two European species that look the same, make identical leaf mines, and have never been found in North America before, both show up in my front yard at the same time? But as far as is known P. origani feeds only on oregano, and P. tetrasticha feeds only on mints in the genus Mentha, so we’ll go with that assumption for now.

Sawfly #38: Aglaostigma semiluteum (Tenthredinidae), I presume… because this is the only sawfly known to feed on jewelweed (Balsaminaceae: Impatiens capensis). I found one of these larvae in Vermont on August 11, 2005, and failed to rear it, not really knowing how to go about it at that point. I never saw another one until August 10 this year, when I spotted three of them right where Julia and I parked to conduct a dragonfly survey about 50 miles west of our house (these surveys have occupied most of our waking hours since the last week of July). When we got home that evening, I checked the jewelweed patch behind the chicken run and noticed a white speck at the edge of a leaf, which I guessed correctly was the recently shed skin of a sawfly larva that was now curled up on the underside of the same leaf. By the time I had carried the leaf inside, the larva had moved to the upper leaf surface:

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These jewelweed sawfly larvae, like some other species on various other plants, secrete a white, waxy bloom that covers their skin. They lose this covering each time they molt, as the above larva illustrates nicely. Here’s the same larva on August 18:

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It’s tricky to get a look at this larva at the right angle to see its big black “nose.”

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Here’s the larva again on August 22, looking more evenly glaucous:

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Leafminer #151: Stigmella purpuratella (Nepticulidae), on apple. I’ve never found mines of this species before; all the mines I’ve found on our apple trees before have been the introduced European species S. oxyacanthella, which doesn’t show up until September. On August 12 I found two mines that were already empty, one on our “Spigold”…

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…and one on our Winesap:

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In Part 22, I wrote about the grape leafminer Antispila isabella, sharing a photo of “an adult that emerged on July 10 from a leaf mine Julia and I collected on August 29 last year at Black Rock Forest in New York—clearly a species with just one generation per year, especially given that I removed the pupal case from winter refrigeration way back in February.” Just a few days after I made this proclamation—on August 13—an adult emerged from one of the mines I’d collected in the yard on July 20.

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Another emerged within a few days after that, while I was teaching a weekend workshop in Vermont. There is obviously more to be learned about A. isabella, which as I already mentioned is a name being applied to at least two distinct species. Whether one of them has a single generation per year and another has two or more, remains to be seen.

On Monday the 17th, I took a rare day off and actually got to devote a few hours to wandering around the yard. I found this glorious creature, a “monkey slug” caterpillar (Limacodidae: Phobetron pithecium), on the pear tree we planted this spring:

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Last fall we embellished the wildest part of our front yard with some native-ish mints, including some spotted beebalm (Lamiaceae: Monarda punctata) that was now in full bloom and being thoroughly appreciated by a variety of fancy wasps:

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These bigger ones weren’t very good at holding still long enough to be photographed, and my camera was having a hard time appreciating how blue and shiny their wings were, but this gives you some idea:

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Two years ago, I noticed that some bird or mammal had planted the European subspecies of highbush cranberry (Adoxaceae: Viburnum opulus ssp. opulus) at the edge of our yard. I decided to leave it there, since although nonnative it doesn’t seem to be particularly invasive, and I’ve now been rewarded with a mine of…

Leafminer #152: Marmara viburnella (Gracillariidae), the first moth species I had the honor of naming, which I first found on the island of Tuckernuck in September 2011, and which Julia and I spent the next four years learning about before finally succeeding in rearing it. We reared it from arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), but I’ve seen it on various other viburnums, including in the last year or two a hobblebush (V. lantanoides) within a few miles of our house. But this is the first time I’ve found it on highbush cranberry, or in our yard. Here’s the initial squiggle in the leaf blade…

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…and here you can see the mine moving from the leaf blade, down the petiole, and into the stem:

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It continued all the way down the newer, green part of the stem, disappearing behind the brown bark from previous years, where the larva will keep mining until next June.

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Our groundnut plants have yet to deliver any leaf mines of Odontota scapularis, but they’re worth having around just for their striking flowers (seen here with a planthopper, Metcalfa pruinosa), though of course their prolific, delicious and nutritious tubers are a nice bonus.

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This spring we sprouted some cardinal flower (Campanulaceae: Lobelia cardinalis) from seed, and a couple of plants are now blooming in the drainage swale we dug across the front yard last fall:

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Here’s a wild turkey walking by one of them on August 19—a whole herd came through, with a few wandering onto our front stoop. I took this picture through the window by the front door.

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I don’t remember specifically planting garden phlox (Polemoniaceae: Phlox paniculata), but it’s been jumping around our yard for a few years now.

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I’ve been watching it closely for leaf mines of Liriomyza phloxiphaga (Agromyzidae), which is known from a single specimen I reared from phlox in my mother’s garden three years ago. No luck so far, but on August 17 I did find this:

Leafminer #153: A heretofore unknown leafminer that forms a narrow linear mine in leaves of garden phlox, soon entering the midrib and presumably continuing into the stem—as with Marmara viburnella, but this isn’t a Marmara; at this point I’m not sure what insect order it belongs to. I can’t see an eggshell at the beginning of the mine, there is no evident frass or larva when I backlight the leaf, and there is no external evidence of feeding in the stem.

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I’ve found one other example so far, right next to the garage.

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Leafminer #154: Phyllocnistis ampelopsiella (Gracillariidae), on Virginia creeper (Vitaceae:  Parthenocissus quinquefolia).  This species mines exclusively on the undersides of Virginia creeper leaves, with little or no visible sign on the upper surface. Julia can attest that I’ve been checking the undersides of the leaves of the vine growing up the rock at the entrance to our driveway pretty much every day when we get home from work, so it’s baffling to me that on August 23 there were suddenly multiple mines from which the adult moths had already emerged.

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Leafminer #155: Ectoedemia rubifoliella (Nepticulidae), on blackberry (Rosaceae: Rubus allegheniensis).  I found several already vacated mines of this moth in the backyard on August 23. This one shows the semicircular exit slit nicely:

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Leafminer #156: Astrotischeria solidagonifoliella (Tischeriidae), on Canada goldenrod (Asteraceae: Solidago canadensis).  I found a single young mine of this moth not far away, less than 1 cm long at this point.

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In the backlit view you can see that there is a little frass in the initial linear portion, but the mine is otherwise clean because the larva has been pushing the rest of its frass through a tiny hole in the underside of the leaf.

Leafminer #157: Nola cilicoides (Nolidae), on fringed loosestrife (Primulaceae:  Lysimachia ciliata).  I’ve been watching for mines of this species for several years now without success, and then I happened to spot one behind the chicken house on the evening of the 23rd when I wasn’t even looking.

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This is the only nolid moth known to mine leaves, and I might have overlooked it in Leafminers of North America if I hadn’t spent a few months working in the office of the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. Bryan Connolly, then the state botanist, mentioned it to me at some point; he and Dave Wagner had published a paper detailing its natural history*. Young larvae mine leaves in August, at least in some cases exiting to window-feed on the lower leaf surface (as is evident in the lower right portion of the above photo). They then spin small cocoons between two overlapping leaves, where they remain inactive for nine months. In spring and early summer, they bore into young stems, later feeding on flower buds, flowers, and young leaves, which may be loosely tied with silk. When finished feeding they spin cocoons along the stems, and adults emerge a week or two later.

The larva by the chicken house had molted at least once before exiting its mine, leaving a head capsule dangling from the hole it chewed in the lower epidermis.

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Leafminer #158: I’m thinking this moth I found flitting around the bathroom on the night of August 23 is Caloptilia hypericella (Gracillariidae), although it wasn’t as shiny as that species typically is. I guess I’ll have to look for mines on the St. John’s-wort in the yard to confirm, especially since the European Hypericum perforatum (the only St. John’s-wort around) isn’t a know host for this species.

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On the evening of August 24 I spotted the first couple of Brachys aerosus mines on a blackish red oak in the lower nut orchard, after having seen adults there way back on May 26.

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When I went back to take the above photos the next day (note the big, shining eggshell on the upper leaf surface, and the stringy frass in the backlit view), I also found very young mines of…

Leafminer #159: One of the many oak-feeding Cameraria species (Gracillariidae).  The mine below was less than 4 mm across.

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On August 25 I went out to document the latest addition to the list and paused for a quick photo of these ambush bugs lurking among goldenrod flowers:

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What I was actually heading out to photograph was, admittedly, much less photogenic.

Leafminer #160: Zeugophora sp. (Megalopodidae), on willow (Salicaceae: Salix sp.).  I haven’t yet tried to identify this willow, which came along with a little swamp azalea we planted in the backyard this spring.

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I’ve never found a Zeugophora mine on willow before, but these beetles also mine in Populus leaves, and the larva in this mine might be Z. varians, which I reared last year from quaking aspen leaf mines collected the previous August 24 in the woods right behind our house:

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The lilac by our front door has yet to reveal a single leaf mine of Gracillaria syringella (Gracillariidae), even though the lilacs along the road by our neighbor’s house were completely covered with them this spring. But it did provide a place for this sleepy little spring peeper to rest.

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And now it’s time to head out for more dragonfly surveys, so I’ll leave you with this shot of Julia showing off the aptly named “tall blue lettuce” (Asteraceae: Lactuca biennis) that’s growing by the vegetable garden fence—no doubt doing so well because the seed that gave rise to it happened to land right next to the compost bin.

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Oh yeah, that reminds me that I’m also supposed to be listing the plants in the yard we’ve eaten this year. Let’s see…

106. Elderberry (Adoxaceae: Sambucus nigra) – fruit
107. Fennel (Apiaceae: Foeniculum vulgare) – petioles/leaves
108. Beach plum (Rosaceae: Prunus maritima) – fruit
109. Peach (Rosaceae: Prunus persica) – fruit
110. Good-king-Henry (Amaranthaceae: Blitum bonus-henricus) – leaves

* Wagner, David L. and Bryan Connolly. 2009. Pithing and mining by a punkie: the unusual feeding strategies of Nola cilicoides (Grote, 1873) (Noctuidae: Nolinae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 63(1): 48–51.

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Return of the Tiny Silk-spinning Wasp

Five years ago I wrote about the discovery of a little wasp in Mexico and Brazil that apparently spins silk over stink bug eggs after inserting its own eggs in them. A few days later I made a follow-up post with a few more photos from Brazil, reporting that Mike Gates had identified the wasp as a Neorileya species (Eurytomidae—in the first post it was misidentified as a pteromalid). He had never heard of Neorileya producing silk, and was interested in more concrete proof that this wasp was actually responsible for the silk.

Well, this week Kel Silva, who sent me the previous photos from Brazil, passed along a couple of videos of one of these wasps, taken by her friend Giovane Proença:

 

 

Seems pretty conclusive to me. Here’s a photo Giovane took of the scene with an American quarter for scale:

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And a photo of another silk-covered stink bug egg mass from Brazil, this one taken by Jhonatan Santos:

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As far as I know, no one has yet collected one of these wasps, so their exact identity is still unknown, if they in fact belong to a species that has been given a name. The function of the silk is presumably to make it harder for other wasps to lay eggs in the parasitized stink bug eggs, thus parasitizing the parasitoids.

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The Yard List(s), Part 22

Looks like a correction is in order! Back on July 20, I found the leaf mines below on a summer grape (Vitaceae: Vitis aestivalis) vine growing in the narrow space between the upper vegetable garden and the arborvitae hedge. I identified them as the work of “Antispilaoinophylla (Heliozelidae), noting that the genus of this moth would likely have changed by the next time you heard from me.  

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I made that identification based on statements by van Nieukerken et al. (2012) that there is no evident initial linear portion in mines of the species (plural) currently known as Antispila isabella. In transmitted light, it is clear that each of these mines begins with a narrow, dark line along one of the major veins, before suddenly expanding to a blotch that ultimately obscures most of this linear portion.

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And yet: by July 26, all three larvae had cut out their pupal cases, revealing themselves to be Antispila in the strict sense.

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The prominent central, longitudinal ridge in the pupal case is unique to Antispila, at least in North America.

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If I had found these mines already vacated (in which case the pupal cases would have been formed on the ground and I never would have seen them), I still would have recognized them as Antispila “isabella” because of the relatively large, nearly circular holes. I’m using quotes here because both DNA and morphological evidence indicate there are at least two different species going under this name. But that’s a problem for another time. For now, we’ll call leafminer #139 for this year’s yard list Antispila isabella. Here’s an adult that emerged on July 10 from a leaf mine Julia and I collected on August 29 last year at Black Rock Forest in New York—clearly a species with just one generation per year, especially given that I removed the pupal case from winter refrigeration way back in February.

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Meanwhile, on July 22, I found two more grape “Antispila” mines, this time on riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) in the “lower nut orchard.”

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Although it wasn’t visible to the naked eye, in these photos I can see that the mines likewise began with a short linear portion, but in this case with an even narrower, broken line of frass, rather than being frass-filled as in the mines on summer grape. These larvae likewise began cutting out their pupal cases on July 23, with the second one finishing on the 26th.

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The cut-outs are small and narrow, and the surfaces of the pupal cases are perfectly flat:

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This tells us that the riverbank grape miners are “Antispila” oinophylla, the species I had originally assumed the summer grape miners to be. As of today, the correct name for this moth is Aspilanta oinophylla, thanks to a paper Erik van Nieukerken and I coauthored. I have never reared this species, which is why I collected the mines I found in my yard, but the adult is externally indistinguishable from the Virginia creeper leafminer Antispila Aspilanta ampelopsifoliella:

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If you see an “Antispila” with that silvery spot near the tip of the wing, it’s really an Aspilanta. (Incidentally, the name Antispila refers to the pattern of opposing spots on the wing, which is common to both genera; “Aspilanta” is just an almost-anagram of Antispila). Unfortunately, there is one Aspilanta species that doesn’t have this spot, so if the spot is missing, distinguishing the two genera requires rubbing off the moth’s scales to examine the wing venation (or dissecting it to examine its genitalia, or analyzing its DNA… though as far as we know, if the moth lacks that spot and has no white tips on its antennae, it is a true Antispila). Fortunately, the difference in the pupal cases is 100% consistent, so if you’re trying to identify a moth you’ve reared, you’ll have no problem getting it to genus.

And so, leafminer #144 for this year’s yard list is Aspilanta oinophylla. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, there is another unnamed grape-feeding Aspilanta that is externally identical to A. oinophylla but with a different DNA barcode. Its genitalia have not yet been examined and the characteristics of its leaf mine are unknown, so I guess I can’t swear that it isn’t the species I have in my yard. So far that one is only known from Connecticut and Florida.

Before I get to the latest additions to the list, there are a few other updates.

I had hoped to rear some adult moths from the three sweetfern leaf shelters of Parornix peregrinaella I collected back on July 7, but instead 11 of these eulophid wasps (probably a Chrysocharis species) emerged from them between July 22 and 26.

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On July 11, I had found this solitary sawfly larva on the planted shadbush by my garage…

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…and I wasn’t sure if it was a new species for the yard or the same one I had found on the other side of the house a month earlier (sawfly #14):

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The July 11 larva kept nibbling away for a couple of weeks, and its head never turned brown to match the otherwise similar larvae I had found before, but it also never grew noticeably; it started to look sickly, and eventually died. I kept it for a bit longer to see if any parasitoids would emerge, and on July 28 this eulophid appeared (I believe it belongs to the subfamily Tetrastichinae):

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I couldn’t find any evidence that it had emerged from the sawfly larva, so I took a close look at the leaves in the vial and discovered that it had emerged from the pupa of another eulophid, which was lying in one of the sawfly larva’s previous feeding sites. So evidently its host eulophid did feed as a larva on the sawfly larva, but the sawfly larva kept feeding for a while after the parasitoid larva had left it.  The emerging adult hyperparasitoid chewed a hole in the dorsal surface of the primary parasitoid’s pupa.

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I’ve found eulophids emerging from braconid cocoons several times, but this is the first time I’ve personally found conclusive evidence of a eulophid parasitizing another chalcidoid.

You may remember the stem miner (#131) I found on Canada goldenrod on July 20. I wrote: “As far as I know no one has ever reported finding a stem mine on goldenrod before. The agromyzid fly Phytoliriomyza arctica is known to mine stems of other Asteraceae genera in Europe, and adults have been caught on goldenrod in Canada. Possibly this is that species, but it could also be some unknown Ophiomyia…”  Well, on July 29 I took a close look at that stem and found that the larva had pupated, showing itself to be an Ophiomyia rather than P. arctica.

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The adult emerged on August 3—alas, a female, so we’re stuck with “some unknown Ophiomyia” until someone can rear a male from one of these mines.

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I haven’t been able to spend much time in my yard lately, for reasons I’ll explain later, but I’ve managed to add a few more leafminers to the list.

Leaf (stem) miner #145: Ophiomyia sp. (Agromyzidae), on wild lettuce (Asteraceae:  Lactuca canadensis). On July 28 I found a couple of aborted mines on a plant that popped up along the driveway among the perennials we’ve planted there to make it appear to passersby that we have a “normal” yard. I reared a bunch of males of this species last year, so I’ll be able to put a name on it eventually. This is the “scab”-forming species I mentioned in an earlier post, first noticed by John van der Linden.

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Leafminer #146: Agromyza parvicornis (Agromyzidae), on corn (Poaceae: Zea mays). I found the first mine of this species on the same day, starting as a linear track on the upper leaf surface and then switching to the lower surface where it formed an elongate blotch.

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On a nearby corn leaf there was a fall webworm sitting on the cocoon of a microgastrine braconid that had emerged from it. I probably should have collected that to rear, but I was feeling a bit overcommitted right then.

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On July 31 I found the time for a more thorough survey of the yard’s latest arrivals and turned up three more species.

Leafminer #147: Liriomyza sp. (Agromyzidae), on white snakeroot (Asteraceae: Ageratina altissima). If you were relying on Tracks & Sign of Insects for leaf mine identification, you would conclude that this mine is the work of L. eupatoriella. It turns out there are at least three different Liriomyza species forming linear mines on white snakeroot, and it’s unclear at this point whether their mines can be reliably distinguished. The mines I’ve collected in the woods behind my house did indeed produce adults of L eupatoriella, but this mine I found under one of the young butternut trees in the “nut orchard” could well belong to another species, which may or may not be L. cracentis.

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Leafminer #148: Stigmella nigriverticella (Nepticulidae), on the same blackish red oak sapling that has already contributed two other leaf-mining moth species this season. Mines of this species differ from those of other oak-feeding Stigmellas in being filled with frass throughout their length.

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Leafminer #149: Stigmella sp. (Nepticulidae), on black birch (Betulaceae: Betula lenta). This is the most common nepticulid on black and yellow birches in my experience, but it doesn’t have a name yet.

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Leafminer #150: The mystery agromyzid on apple mint (Lamiaceae: Mentha suaveolens) I mentioned in my previous post. I’ve been keeping an eye on the apple mint and on August 6 there were a bunch of new mines in evidence, some of which clearly had larvae inside.

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I’m now convinced they can’t possibly be weird mines of Calycomyza menthae; they don’t match any known North American mint miner. It occurred to me to check the European leafminer website—having already found one previously undocumented immigrant on a mint (oregano) in my yard this summer—and they seem to be a perfect match for Phytomyza tetrasticha: they begin with a compact brown spiral, followed by a convoluted, intestine-like track with conspicuous feeding lines. Here’s a recently completed example:

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However, I hesitate to say the apple mint miner is in fact Phytomyza tetrasticha because the three larvae that have emerged so far all formed pale brown puparia, not black like the one shown on the European website. They’re also a bit more elongate. Needless to say, I will keep monitoring the apple mint patch until I’ve secured some adult males of this species to confirm its identity.

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One other recent development is that between August 6 and 8, five adults have emerged of sawfly #35, the gregarious Arge larvae I found defoliating the shadbush by the garage on July 11. Three males…

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…and two females.

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And finally, the latest additions to the list of plants I’ve eaten in the yard this year:

94. Choke cherry (Rosaceae: Prunus virginiana) – fruit
95. Green bean (Fabaceae: Phaseolus vulgaris) – fruit
96. Groundcherry (Solanaceae: Physalis sp.) – fruit
97. Lemon balm (Lamiaceae: Melissa officinalis) – leaves
98. Anise hyssop (Lamiaceae: Agastache foeniculum) – leaves
99. Cucumber (Cucurbitaceae: Cucumis sativus) – fruit
100. Cilantro (Apiaceae: Coriandrum sativum) – leaves
101. Huckleberry (Ericaceae: Gaylussacia baccata) – fruit
102. Bell pepper (Solanaceae: Capsicum annuum) – fruit
103. Corn (Poaceae: Zea mays) – seeds
104. Dill (Apiaceae: Anethum graveolens) – leaves
105. Rutabaga (Brassicaceae: Brassica napus) – roots

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The Yard List(s), Part 21

Uh-oh, eleven days since my last update on leafminers and sawflies in my yard… Let’s see what’s happened since then.

I’ve collected Phytomyza origani mines from the oregano patch by the front door on several different occasions, to ensure that I have sufficient reared adults to properly document the presence of this species in North America. In all of the mines I’ve found, the puparia have been formed inside the leaf, with one exception. A puparium appeared at the bottom the rearing vial with leaves I’d collected on June 26, and on July 11 this fly emerged from it:

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This is a Calycomyza rather than a Phytomyza. As I mentioned when I first found the mines, no North American leafminer is known to feed on oregano. My guess is that this is C. menthae, which I have mining beebalm (Monarda) in my yard and has also been reared from other mint genera (Lycopus, Mentha), but unfortunately identification of females like this one is hopeless, so this will have to remain an educated guess for the time being.

On July 13 an adult Parornix emerged from a paper birch leaf I’d collected on June 26 (a second attempt after the first mine I collected produced a braconid wasp instead of a moth). In theory this should mean I now know which of the five birch-feeding Parornix species I’ve got, but they all look pretty similar. It might be P. vicinella, but I’m not entirely convinced.

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On June 17 I had collected a number of Caloptilia leaf rolls on pin cherry, and some braconid wasps emerged, and then a couple of non-leafmining caterpillars appeared, which I moved to other containers. Then on June 14, this adult Parornix appeared—apparently having emerged either from a mine that I mistakenly associated with the Caloptilia rolls, or from a mine that wasn’t there yet when I collected the leaves, which are too deteriorated now to determine its source.

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Although this is mighty similar to the birch Parornix above, Dietz’s (1907) key takes it somewhere entirely different because the cilia at the apex of the wing are not black-tipped. If it’s a species that has been reported from cherry before, it would seem to be P. crataegifoliella, but I’m not confident about this one either.

Also on July 14, I discovered that two adults (a male and a female) had emerged from the soil into which five aspen-feeding “slug” sawflies (Caliroa) had burrowed on or before June 27. Caliroa species are supposed two have just one generation per year, with adults emerging in spring, but no Caliroa species are known to feed on aspen so I guess we shouldn’t expect this species to conform to what is known…

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On the same day I discovered that a couple of Acordulecera larvae I’d collected from butternut leaves on June 17 (burrowed by June 22) had emerged as adults. Another genus that isn’t supposed to do that… but it seems like this wasn’t a fluke, because I think I’ve now seen three successive groups of Acordulecera larvae feeding on that same butternut sapling this season.

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On a walk around the yard I found two giant silkmoth caterpillars (Saturniidae) on one of our two little tuliptree saplings.

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At first I thought they might be larvae of the tuliptree silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera), a tuliptree specialist that I’ve never encountered, but after a little investigation I determined that they’re promethea moths (C. promethea), which include tuliptree in their diverse assortment of host plants. Tuliptree silkmoth caterpillars (and adults) typically hang out well above ground level and are unlikely to be found on a little sapling like this one.

Three days later they had both molted (one not yet totally free of its previous skin and head capsule) and were resting together on the underside of a leaf.

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Back on the evening of the 14th I found a couple of Agromyza mines on some sunflowers (Asteraceae: Helianthus annuus) in our vegetable garden.

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The only Agromyza known to feed on Helianthus is A. ambrosivora, but this is based on a single rearing from mines Julia and I found in Colorado five years ago, so it’s certainly possible that it isn’t the only species using this host. I collected this mine just in time; right after I picked the leaf, I noticed that one of the larvae was already poking out of it:

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Here’s its puparium the next morning:

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Leafminer #129: Agromyza ambrosivora (Agromyzidae).  It will be a while before I confirm the identity of the sunflower miner in the garden, but in the meantime I’ve found definite A. ambrosivora mines on ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) around the yard.

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The sawfly larvae I found on the shadbush by the garage on July 11 (which are probably an Arge species) have voracious appetites, and I’ve had to collect new leaves for them every day or two. On July 15 I found one of them molting:

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Leafminer #130: Stigmella intermedia (Nepticulidae).  I’d been watching for mines of this tiny moth on the sumac around the yard for a while without seeing anything, and then suddenly on the 17th there were several old, brown ones on a branch overhanging the driveway, which I walk past every day. Not paying enough attention I guess!

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On Monday (the 20th) I decided I’d better do a focused leafminer search around the yard to see what else I’d been missing.

Leaf (stem) miner #131: The first thing I found was this mine on a Canada goldenrod (Asteraceae: Solidago canadensis) stem right by the chicken run.

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As far as I know no one has ever reported finding a stem mine on goldenrod before. The agromyzid fly Phytoliriomyza arctica is known to mine stems of other Asteraceae genera in Europe, and adults have been caught on goldenrod in Canada. Possibly this is that species, but it could also be some unknown Ophiomyia (I did rear Ophiomyia adults from stems of silverrod, Solidago bicolor, last year). The larva is still feeding away toward the tip of the stem, so maybe I’ll get to find out what it is.

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Sawfly #37.  I spotted this striking larva resting on the underside of a smooth goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) leaf in the “lower nut orchard.”

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It had a freshly-molted look, and I found its previous skin on the underside of another leaf a few inches above it.

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Notice how, unlike the promethea moth, the sawfly larva’s head capsule stayed attached to the rest of its exuviae. This is a consistent difference between lepidopteran and sawfly larvae and applies to leafminers as well. This larva was totally unlike the ones I previously found feeding on goldenrod leaves around the yard, and I can’t be sure what its actual host plant was. The only tree it could have fallen from was a sugar maple; if it wandered onto the goldenrod from a neighboring plant, the most likely suspects would be blackberry and jewelweed. It looked prepupal to me and was acting restless, so I dropped it in a jar of soil and it immediately burrowed down. What emerges (in a few weeks? Next year?) may not be a sawfly, because it had a yellow egg of a tryphonine ichneumon wasp right behind its head. Spencer Monckton suggested this larva is probably a Tenthredo, and a Google image search for that genus did turn up some similarly patterned European species.

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Leafminer #132: Phytomyza astotinensis (Agromyzidae), on Canada goldenrod.  This looks just like the mine of P. solidaginophaga, which was active back in May, but it was found on a leaf that didn’t exist yet when the last P. solidaginophaga larva dropped to the ground.

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I found this mine of a Cerodontha species (Agromyzidae) on a bract of nodding sedge (Cyperaceae: Carex gynandra). I suspect it was made by C. (Dizygomyza) morosa, but I couldn’t swear it’s not C. (Butomomyza) angulata, which I’ve already listed for the yard (found on deertongue grass), so I won’t count it as a separate species for now. There is a puparium in the mine, so I may end up with an adult fly. There are no records of any leafminer from this particular sedge species.

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The promethea caterpillars were still on the tuliptree sapling—one munching away on a leaf with a Phyllocnistis liriodendronella mine.

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Leafminer #133: Bucculatrix sp. (Bucculatricidae), on red oak (Fagaceae: Quercus rubra). A few weeks ago I found mines of an undetermined Bucculatrix on this same young red oak, but was unable to find larvae to collect and rear. Now there are cocoons of two different species on the leaves. This stocky one, from which the adult moth has already emerged, reminds me of B. trifasciella but I wouldn’t swear it’s that species…

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…and then there’s this pure white, more finely ribbed, and more elongate one, from which an adult might still emerge:

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Leafminer #134: Neurobathra strigifinitella (Gracillariidae), on Chinese chestnut.  The larva of this moth mines largely in the midrib, sometimes (as in this example) expanding the mine into a blotch toward the tip of the leaf blade.

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Now in the “upper nut orchard,” I saw this rosy maple moth (Saturniidae: Dryocampa rubicunda) caterpillar on the underside of a red maple leaf.

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Leafminer #135: Coptodisca splendoriferella (Heliozelidae), on black cherry (Rosaceae:  Prunus serotina).  The leaf in the photo below has mines of five different larvae, two of which survived to maturity, at which point they cut out little oval leaf pieces to form their pupal cases.

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Leafminer #136: Stigmella slingerlandella (Nepticulidae), on choke cherry (Rosaceae:  Prunus virginiana).  The larva of this species is much paler than the green larva of S. prunifoliella, and its mine gets substantially wider, often forming a distinct blotch. Also, the mine of S. prunifoliella always begins at the midrib, whereas this mine started above the top of the photo and then crossed the midrib. I don’t think it caused that brown, necrotic area, but it clearly passed through it while the tissue was still green.

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The larva popped out of the leaf the next day…

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…and by yesterday it had spun its tiny cocoon in the moist wad of toilet paper at the bottom of the rearing vial.

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Leafminer #137: Stigmella corylifoliella (Nepticulidae), on one of our cultivated hazelnuts (Betulaceae: Corylus ‘medium long’).

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I’m happy to say that plant actually has made some nuts this year, though I assume rodents or blue jays will swipe them all right when we’re starting to think about harvesting them.

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Leafminer #138: Calycomyza flavinotum (Agromyzidae). There was a lone larva mining in the spotted Joe-pye weed (Asteraceae: Eutrochium maculatum) we planted in the front yard last fall.

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The burdock at the edge of the yard is currently much more popular with C. flavinotum.

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The eminently furry Bombus perplexus was enjoying our blooming oregano. I don’t remember seeing this species in our yard before. Although I don’t pay nearly as much attention to flower visitors as to herbivores, this is the fourth species of bumble bee I’ve photographed in the yard.

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Also a lovely little orange mint moth (Crambidae: Pyrausta orphisalis), whose larvae also feed on mints, but apparently only on Mentha species and not oregano.

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Leafminer #139: “Antispila oinophylla (Heliozelidae), on summer grape (Vitaceae: Vitis aestivalis). The genus of this moth will likely have changed by the next time you hear from me.

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I’ve been troubled by these agromyzid mines on our apple mint (Lamiaceae: Mentha suaveolens) ever since I saw one floating in Julia’s water glass a few weeks ago. I’ve been checking the plants ever since and have been unable to find another until now. They don’t really match any of the known mint miners, but they may just be weird mines of Calycomyza menthae.

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Leafminer #140: Stigmella villosella (Nepticulidae), on a blackberry growing under the solar panel. A good day for Stigmella mines!

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Leafminer #141: Aristotelia isopelta (Gelechiidae), on evening primrose (Onagraceae:  Oenothera biennis). This one was just getting started and I doubt I would have noticed it if I hadn’t been specifically looking for it. I wrote about my initial discovery of this mine here, and this moth is featured in my “Native Plants as Insect Habitat” slideshow that you can now watch here.

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The same evening primrose plant had a larva of Waldheimia carbonaria, another sawfly with multiple generations per year.

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I saw a number of case-bearing leaf beetle larvae (Chrysomelidae: Neochlamisus eubati) wandering about on blackberry leaves and nibbling them from the cover of their portable poop thimbles.

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Also on the 20th, this adult Parornix emerged from a hawthorn leaf I’d collected by the mailbox on July 7. This one I do feel comfortable calling P. crataegifoliella.

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Leafminer #142: Agromyza rudbeckiana (Agromyzidae), on the Heliopsis along the driveway. I noticed a brown leaf tip on Monday but couldn’t convince myself it was actually a mine until I checked again on Tuesday evening, at which point it had grown considerably (and had a chalcid wasp investigating it, which I didn’t notice when I took this photo). This is the other likely suspect for the mines on Helianthus in the vegetable garden.

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This dazzling caterpillar of the brown hooded owlet moth (Noctuidae: Cucullia convexipennis) was on a little clump of Canada goldenrod by the driveway yesterday morning.

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No new leafminers yesterday, but Julia spotted this pair of “bad-wing” moths (Geometridae: Dyspteris abortivaria) resting on a striped maple leaf in the lower nut orchard. Caterpillars of this species eat grape (and Virginia creeper), which is abundant in the immediate vicinity.

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We only saw one plump promethea caterpillar on the nearby tuliptree sapling, which, with its few remaining leaves, probably doesn’t mind if the other one was eaten or wandered off to try out another host plant.

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This morning a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar was peeking out of one of the folded leaves on the spicebushes we planted next to the garage:

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And one more leafminer from this morning, which I found when I went out to cut back the staghorn sumac by the mailbox at the mail lady’s request (it was preventing her from seeing whether our little red flag was up until she’s already zooming past):

Leafminer #143: Caloptilia rhoifoliella (Gracillariidae). The larvae start out making these epidermal linear-blotch mines on the lower leaf surface, and will later live in lopsided rolls at the tips of the leaflets.

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And as usual, a few more edible plants to log:

88. Mulberry (Moraceae: Morus ‘Illinois everbearing’) – fruit
89. Dewberry (Rosaceae: Rubus flagellaris) – fruit
90. Self-heal (Lamiaceae: Prunella vulgaris) – leaves & flowers (tea)
91. Zucchini (Cucurbitaceae: Cucurbita pepo) – fruit
92. Potato (Solanaceae: Solanum tuberosum) – tubers
93. Blackberry (Rosaceae: Rubus allegheniensis) – fruit

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Charismatic Megafauna

I interrupt this survey of obscure insects in my yard to bring you… a porcupine chomping on apples.

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The Yard List(s), Part 20

Before I get to the latest additions, I’ve got a few updates on some previous finds. Two exciting (albeit nondescript) flies emerged on Tuesday. One was from the leaf mines on oregano I found by the front stoop on June 20:

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He emerged from a moldy leaf, and some of the mold rubbed off on his head and thorax, but unkempt appearance aside, he is the first known North American specimen of Phytomyza origani. Or at least, that’s my assumption; I will be very surprised if Owen Lonsdale reaches a different conclusion when he examines the specimens (another three have emerged over the past few days).

The other exciting fly on Tuesday was this male Ophiomyia from one of the hawkweed stem mines I found on the other side of the front stoop on July 1.

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In this genus, males can be recognized from their little Salvador Dalí mustaches as well as by looking at the tip of the abdomen. This fly is either another previously undocumented immigrant from Europe, or an undescribed species, or a named species that has not been reared from hawkweed before. We’ll see what Owen says…

Sawfly #32: On Wednesday I found a larva on a wild red raspberry that was clearly different from #30 on the same host, which had distinct black markings on its head in addition to being much darker overall.

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Also on Wednesday, this entedonine eulophid (Chrysocharis, maybe) emerged from the Bohemannia pulverosella leaf mine I collected from the old apple tree on June 21.

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Speaking of which, this skinny-waisted entedonine emerged from one of the oregano leaf mines on July 4:

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So there are at least two different wasp species parasitizing Phytomyza origani in the little patch of oregano by my front door (I’ve also reared two female eulophines that are likely Pnigalio).

And while we’re on the topic of entedonine eulophids, here’s another one that emerged from a puparium of the hawkweed stem miner on Thursday:

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This is why you don’t just collect a single example of a mine and assume what emerges will be the insect that made it! Sometimes there only is one mine though, as with the underside tentiform mine I found on our medlar on June 27, from which this eulophid emerged on Friday:

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The host is probably the same as leafminer #115, the Parornix on the hawthorn by the mailbox, whose mines have a similar speckling on the lower surface.  Here’s the one on medlar from which the wasp emerged:

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Leafminer #119 & sawfly #33: Schizocerella pilicornis (Argidae).  I saw several mines of this species on purslane while I was picking greens for breakfast in the vegetable garden on Thursday morning.  Adult males of S. pilicornis have fancy antler-like antennae, and one is pictured on the cover of my leafminer book.

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Leafminer #120: Bucculatrix pomifoliella (Bucculatricidae).  On Thursday evening I found a single tiny mine of this moth on a black cherry leaf.  As with most Bucculatrix species, after making this mine the larva spends the rest of its life feeding in little patches on the leaf surface.

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I also found a single mine of Bucculatrix pomifoliella yesterday on the hawthorn by the mailbox.

Leafminer #121: Coptotriche castaneaeella (Tischeriidae). There were little mines of this moth just getting started on a sapling in the “nut orchard” that is basically a red oak (Quercus rubra) but seemingly with a little black oak (Q. velutina) mixed in.

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Earlier on Thursday I had noticed a completed mine of this species along the road by my incessantly ATV-joyriding new neighbor’s house. For whatever reason, Coptotriche castaneaeella decorates the ceiling of its mine with little brown crescents. The contracting silk of its pupal chamber causes the upper epidermis to tear all around it.

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Leaf (stem) miner #122: On Friday I found another noteworthy fly mine right by my front door, this time on daisy fleabane (Asteraceae: Erigeron annuus). It was a stem mine made by an agromyzid fly, probably in the genus Ophiomyia, but there isn’t an Ophiomyia recorded from Erigeron. Last year on the other side of the house I found a stem mine on horseweed (Erigeron canadensis, formerly Conyza canadensis) with an empty Ophiomyia puparium in it; this new mine didn’t seem to have a puparium yet, but I’ll keep watching it.

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Leafminer #123: Coptotriche citrinipennella (Tischeriidae). Another look at that same blackish red oak sapling revealed several mines of this moth. These mines are always formed along the leaf margin, and silk spun by the larva inside causes the leaf to curl over and conceal much of the mine.

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Here’s an adult Coptotriche citrinipennella that just emerged from a similar mine on scarlet oak (Q. coccinea) we collected on July 2 while conducting a leafminer survey in Rhode Island:

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I hadn’t really focused my attention on this blackish red oak sapling before, maybe because it’s so close to the ATV tempest that keeps erupting nextdoor lately, but in this moment of calm I looked up and saw an impressive density of leaf cuts made by leaf-rolling weevils.

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There is one leaf roll still attached near the middle of the photo.

Sawfly #34: Diprion similis (Diprionidae).  This introduced European species feeds on needles of white pine (Pinaceae: Pinus strobus), and I had found larvae in the woods behind our house a few weeks ago but I’m keeping this list strictly to what I can find in the yard. There are hardly any pine needles near ground level around our yard, but there are some pine trees along the boundary between the “lower nut orchard” and our neighbor, and a larva dropped down from one of these to spin its cocoon on a twig of the blackish red oak sapling.

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The other day I showed an example of a “grass sheathminer fly” (Agromyzidae:  Cerodontha dorsalis) mine that was entirely in the sheath of a corn leaf.  I mentioned that on smaller grasses the mine begins as a long track in the leaf blade before entering the sheath; here’s an example on reed canary grass (Poaceae: Phalaris arundinacea), which used to be a dominant feature in the “nut orchard” before we let it become overgrown with shrubs, vines, and small trees.

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The “nut orchard” is a little strip of land that was sold to the previous owner of our house by the previous owner of the house nextdoor.  Before that acquisition, I’m guessing the previous owner of our house got a package of assorted tree seedlings from the Arbor Day Foundation or something like that and planted them all together—way too close together—along what was the property boundary at the time.  So there is now a dense clump of trees that don’t naturally grow in this type of soil, and in some cases aren’t native to New England: there is a big nonnative poplar that I haven’t been able to identify; a silver maple; a pin oak; a red pine; a pitch pine (now deceased due to overcrowding); a European larch; and several nonnative spruces (a couple of which we cut down, along with some white pines that may or may not have been planted, to let some more light into our yard).  Most of the silver maple foliage is well out of reach, but looking up at it on Friday I noticed a few characteristic leaf rolls ten feet or so above me:

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Leafminer #124: Caloptilia sp. (Gracillariidae).  The rolls were made by one of several maple-feeding species in this genus, which need to be reared to adults to be identified. The larvae form inconspicuous leaf mines and then exit them to feed in lopsided leaf rolls like the ones shown above (below the big one is a smaller one that the same larva made at the tip of another leaf lobe). The little dark smudge below and to the right of the big roll may or may not be the larva’s initial mine.

Leafminer #125: Phyllonorycter trinotella (Gracillariidae).  I did find one leaf mine that was within reach, on a young sprout from the base of the silver maple.  Although there are three eastern Phyllonorycter species that make underside tentiform mines on maples (all of which have been reared from silver maple), this one should be P. trinotella based on its small size.  Naturally, it already has an exit hole made by an emerging parasitoid wasp, so I can’t rear an adult to verify.

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Yesterday morning, as I was passing the shadbush we planted next to the garage—on which I found the leaf-rolling sawfly a month ago—I noticed this caterpillar sitting atop some webbing spun over the upper surface of a leaf.

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It seemed like an odd thing to do; usually the point of spinning webbing is to hide under it, or to create a leaf shelter to hide in. It’s still sitting there this morning, with denser webbing but no further curling of the leaf.

Anyway, when I stopped for a closer look at the caterpillar, I noticed a bunch of sawfly larvae working on defoliating part of the bush. And looking around the bush a bit more, I found two other species, for a total of four different sawfly species found feeding on this one little bush this season.

Sawfly #35.  Not sure how long these have been there, but they’re certainly making their presence known now.

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Nice of them to leave the fruits, at least.

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Sawfly #36.  Once I was in a sawfly frame of mind, I noticed a few leaves near the ground with brown patches on them and wondered if they were made by Caliroa larvae feeding on the lower surface.

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They sure were!

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Although they look much like the ones I found on the aspen sapling in the front yard, I assume they are a different species based on the unrelated host plant.

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I also found a single tiny larva of a third species on the underside of one of the leaves at the top of the plant.

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At this point I’m not sure whether or not this is different from sawfly #14 (see the bottom of this post), which I found on the little Amelanchier laevis we planted on the other side of the house.  I’ll have to watch and see how it develops.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon gathering several quarts of black and red raspberries from around the yard, pausing occasionally to collect of photograph another new leaf mine or sawfly larva. This one on blackberry is probably the same as #32 on red raspberry:

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After I photographed that one, I noticed that #32 had molted to a prepupa; I dropped it in a jar of soil and it immediately disappeared into it.

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While I was at it I got a quick shot of #30, the original red raspberry sawfly, who curls up at the slightest provocation.

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Over the next hour I found two larvae on black raspberry:

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I put them in the same rearing jar together, but I’m wondering now if I should separate them in case those prominent dark spots on the first one’s prolegs and abdomen are significant. I imagine at least the second one is the same species as the similar ones on blackberry and red raspberry… I sure hope I can rear them to adults so I can get this all sorted out.

While picking berries near a red oak sapling along the south edge of the yard, I found another lovely Coptotriche castaneaeella mine like the one along the road, though a predator apparently tore the larva out of this one before it started making its pupal chamber:

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Leafminer #126: Phyllonorycter sp. (Gracillariidae).  There was a single underside mine on that same red oak sapling.

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There are many oak-feeding Phyllonorycter species, but based on the way the frass is scattered rather than consolidated into a neat pile at one end, I suspect it is one of the species that gathers up its frass when it’s done feeding and incorporates it into its cocoon. I’m guessing P. basistrigella; hopefully I’ll be able to confirm that later. I don’t remember ever seeing Phyllonorycter mines on oak in my yard before.

Leafminer #127: Calycomyza promissa (Agromyzidae).  There are now numerous mines of this fly on the calico asters (Asteraceae: Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) along the west side of our house.  Here is a nice pair that shows how the mine develops: it starts as a green line leading to a digitate blotch that is centered over the leaf midrib; this blotch expands and becomes puffy and whitish, often obliterating the initial linear portion.  The puparium of this species is formed within the mine, atop a long, narrow pedestal of frass.

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I wasn’t the only one who spent the day gathering raspberries. These were on the chipmunk’s favorite perch at the end of a garden wall.

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I wished I had a zoom lens handy when I spotted her hanging out with a rabbit on the other side of the vegetable garden.  Look at those cheeks!

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Leafminer #128: Agromyza pseudoreptans (Agromyzidae).  I mentioned the other day, when I found the blackish mine of A. reptans on stinging nettle, that the greenish-brown mines of A. pseudoreptans are much more common in my yard.  I’ve been watching some mines on a nettle plant right by the chicken run for a few days; I was pretty sure they were paler than A. reptans, but now they’re far enough along to be sure:

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(Stinging nettle plant at left.)

A few more edible plants to log:

83. Basil (Lamiaceae: Ocimum basilicum) – leaves
84. Lowbush blueberry (Ericaceae: Vaccinium pallidum) – fruit
85. American black currant (Grossulariaceae: Ribes americanum) – fruit
86. Gooseberry (Grossulariaceae: some other Ribes species) – fruit
87. Chamomile (Asteraceae: Matricaria chamomilla) – flowers (tea)

 

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