Another writing season begins!

Things have been quiet around here on BugTracks lately, due to another busy field season (and due to spending a good chunk of my summer computer time updating the 300+ page Asterales chapter in Leafminers of North America, which is now finished). Any day now I’ll start going through my photos from this spring and summer and will be posting the highlights here, as soon as I finish up a few papers I’ve been working on about—you guessed it—leafminers and sawfly larvae.

In the meantime, a box of 2023 Leafminers of North America calendars has just arrived, and as with last year, I will send a copy to anyone who makes a donation of at least $30 (the amount WordPress charges me each year to keep this blog free of annoying ads) before the end of November, which you can do here (select “Send,” and then include your mailing address in the notes). As with last year’s calendar, each month shows a whole leafminer life cycle instead of a single full-page photo per month.

Also, last month when the “January” issue of Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington was finally published, it included four papers of mine, three of which reported on discoveries made during my 2020 inventory of leafminers and sawfly larvae in my yard (and the fourth included something I found in my neighbor’s beaver meadow). Here’s a quick summary of those discoveries, with links back to my original blog posts about them.

Eiseman, Charles S. and Owen Lonsdale. 2022. First North American record of Phytomyza origani Hering (Diptera: Agromyzidae), a leafminer of cultivated herbs in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 124(1): 177–183.

As I had assumed, this leaf mine I found on the oregano by my front door on June 20 proved to be the first North American record of Phytomyza origani. Since this species was thought to be a strict specialist on oregano, it was a little surprising when the leaf mines on apple mint (which I first noticed in Julia’s water glass) turned out to be the work of the same fly. Coincidentally, within a month of my rearing P. origani from apple mint in my yard, Yuliia Guglya reared it from other Mentha mints in Ukraine, as I learned about when I was given her paper to review last spring (which happened to be the same week that Owen Lonsdale examined and identified my flies).

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Eiseman, Charles S., David R. Smith, Bill Sheehan, and Tracy S. Feldman. 2022. Macrophya Dahlbom spp. (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae) feeding on Asteraceae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 124(1): 39–45.

This little cutie that I found on the underside of a Canada goldenrod leaf by the driveway on June 13,

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as well as this snazzy older larva I found on late goldenrod by the chicken run on June 21,

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both turned out to be Macrophya senacca, a species that Gary Gibson had described when he revised the genus Macrophya in 1980, but nothing had been known about its immature stages or host plants until now. Both larvae burrowed into jars of soil and emerged as adults the following spring.

Eiseman, Charles S. and David R. Smith. 2022. A review of the Nearctic fern-feeding sawflies (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidoidea), with new host records and larval descriptions. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 124(1): 18–38.

On June 6, while gazing down at a garden from the back deck, I spotted this larva on a clump of lady fern,

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and once I’d brought it inside I discovered this tiny larva on the same frond,

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and four days later this wee one appeared in the same rearing jar, apparently having hatched from an unseen egg. I found more of these larvae, and the eggs from which they were hatching, when I collected fresh lady fern fronds to feed the original larvae.

It was a bit tricky to keep track of who was who, when more eggs and larvae kept coming in every time I collected more bits of lady fern, but I was able to rear all three species to adults. The first larva emerged as an adult the following spring, and turned out to be—as I’d guessed it might be—Strongylogaster macula, which had previously been reported only from Europe and Canada.

The second larva bored into a sumac twig I offered it and emerged as an adult the following spring, revealing itself to be Thrinax albidopicta, whose larva hadn’t been described before (and previous host records attributed to this species were based on misidentifications). Other larvae of that species that I collected after the first one emerged as adults without any diapause, the first one on June 22. As they get older, larvae of T. albidopicta develop adorable little black hats.

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And the third larva turned out to be Aneugmenus flavipes, a species previously known to feed only on bracken fern; the first adult I reared from lady fern emerged on June 29.

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Eiseman, Charles S. 2022. New rearing records reveal Phytosciara greylockensis Eiseman, Heller, and Rulik (Diptera: Sciaridae) is a polyphagous leafminer of herbaceous plants. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 124(1): 174–176.

The title of this one pretty much says it all; when Julia and I first discovered Phytosciara greylockensis at the 2016 Berkshire BioBlitz on Mt. Greylock, the larvae were feeding on bluebead lily, but when we were conducting a survey for rare dragonflies along the shore of a small river in 2020, I found them on buttercup, violet, water pennywort, and sensitive fern all within an area of about a square meter, and then a couple of weeks later I found one on a monkeyflower leaf in my neighbor’s beaver meadow.

And for completeness, here are two more papers that were published within a day after the above four came out. These two aren’t about my yard and I wasn’t the lead author, but unlike the first four they are open access so you can follow the links below to read them online if you want (if you’d like a PDF of any of the others, let me know).

Xuan, Jing-Li, Sonja J. Scheffer, Owen Lonsdale, Brian K. Cassel, Matthew L. Lewis, Charles S. Eiseman, Wan-Xue Liu, and Brian M. Wiegmann. 2022. A genome-wide phylogeny and the diversification of genus Liriomyza (Diptera: Agromyzidae) inferred from anchored phylogenomics. Systematic Entomology 2022: 1–20. (full article)

Chen, Taibin, Xiaohua Dai, and Charles Eiseman. 2022. A checklist of gymnosperm-feeding leafminers (Arthopoda, Insecta) in North America and Europe. Biodiversity Data Journal 10: e91313. (full article)

Okay, signing off for now!

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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2 Responses to Another writing season begins!

  1. Pam Piombino says:

    Love, love, love you work! Keep it coming, Pam Piombino

  2. Judy says:

    Fascinating stuff as always. Apparently little reason to leave home for work!

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