Arizona Bugs, Part 3

Here’s my final (for now) installment of photos from last November’s trip to Arizona.  The first several were taken in the vicinity of Tucson.


At the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, I saw this Fatal Metalmark (Calephelis nemesis), the only metalmark (Riodinidae) I’ve photographed so far.


Several interesting insects were associated with this velvety-leaved mallow, which Dave Ferguson has suggested might be Abutilon incanum.  (Can anyone confirm this or suggest an alternative? Photos of old flower here and seed capsules here.)


In addition to linear leaf mines like the one in the above photo, which was made by a Bucculatrix species (“ribbed cocoon-maker moth,” Bucculatricidae), there were blotch mines made by the larvae of these beetles:


This is one of the hispine leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae: Chalepini), and Charles Staines identified it as Stenopodius texanus.  The beetle I sent him may be the first reared specimen of this species; the host plant notes in Staines (2006)* only state that adults have been collected on Sphaeralcea coccinea, S. emoryi, and S. lindheimeri.  

On these same plants were a number of beautiful bugs that Julia and I started calling “Aztec bugs” because of their intricate color patterns.  They turn out to be Niesthrea louisianica, a species of scentless plant bug (Rhopalidae) found on various mallows (Malvaceae) throughout the southern US.



We also encountered a fuzzy-leaved mint with a lot of insect activity on it (for photos of flowers and leaves, see the last three in this album).  Many of the leaves had mines (fairly unusual for the mint family), some of which had larvae actively feeding inside:


We saw about a dozen of these moths on the same plant:

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I assumed at the time that these were the adults of the leaf-mining larvae, but they are heliodinids, most species of which are associated with the plant order Caryophyllales (as opposed to Lamiales, the order that includes mints).  Specifically, they appear to be Aetole unipunctella, a species that does mine leaves but has only been reared from Boerhavia species (Nyctaginaceae).  Hsu & Powell (2005**) note that adults “have been recorded, presumably seeking nectar, at flowers of various unrelated plants, including Eriogonum (Polygonaceae) and Bahia (Asteraceae) in Arizona and Cassia (Fabaceae) in Mexico, in addition to Boerhavia.”  Although the first photo above shows a moth drinking from a flower, the rest of them were resting on stems and leaves as in the second photo.

Not far from these moths was a plant that I believe may be some kind of Boerhavia, which also had some leaf mines.  That plant is shown here and in the five subsequent photos.

The last place we explored in Arizona was Chiricahua National Monument.  The landscape there was strikingly different.

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The most striking insects we encountered there were grasshoppers.  This greenish blue one is Thomas’s Two-striped Grasshopper (Melanoplus thomasi):

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…And this outwardly drab one is the Red-winged Grasshopper (Arphia pseudonietana):

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After a harrowing drive on a long, winding mountain pass, we got out of the car one last time and got to see a big congregation of Blue-green Sharpshooters (Hordnia atropunctata).

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* Staines, C. L. 2006. The Hispine Beetles of America North of Mexico (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Virgina Museum of Natural History Special Publication Number 13:1-178.

** Hsu, Yu-Feng and Jerry A. Powell. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships within Heliodinidae and systematics of moths formerly assigned to Heliodines Stainton (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutoidea). University of California Publications in Entomology 124:1-158.

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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3 Responses to Arizona Bugs, Part 3

  1. Look what I raised last year from larvae on Malvae from west of the Tucson Mountains and the Waterman Mts: So I guess they are also S. texanus. April generation, though. Those plants are bare in November. The species uses several hosts in the same family – I have to look up on which spp I collected them

  2. Pingback: More Mallow Miners | BugTracks

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