Category Archives: Insects

Bumble bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sacrator)

bumble bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sacrator)

Photo by Christa Rittberg

With 7,003 species in 530 genera worldwide, robber flies are one of the largest and most abundant families of insects alive today. Bee-like robber flies, as the common name for the genus suggests, resemble bees. There are 240 species of bee-like robber flies, 62 species in North America north of Mexico. Few of the species have been given a common name. Laphria sacrator is one of several species famous for being a bumble bee mimic, so “bumble bee mimic robber fly” will stand in for the common name.

Bumble bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sacrator) is a short, robust, medium-sized, bee-like robber fly. It is fairly common in northeastern and north-central United States, including Minnesota. It has a stout thorax and a short abdomen, both partially covered with long yellow hairs making it resemble a bumble bee. It is one of the hairiest of the bee-like robber flies. Adults are ⅝″ to 1″ long.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/bumble_bee_mimic_robber_fly_(Laphria_sacrator).html

Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)

two-spotted bumble bee

Photo by Christa Rittberg

Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus) is small, colonial bumble bee. It is common in eastern North America and in Minnesota. It emerges very early in the spring and is active until mid-summer.

Two-spotted bumble bee usually nests underground but sometimes in the cavity of a dead tree. Like other bumble bees, it will sting to protect itself or its nest. The stinger is not barbed and the bee can sting multiple times. It feeds on the pollen and nectar of flowers. It has a very long tongue that allows it to feed on nectar of plants with long corolla tubes.

Two-spotted bumble bee is identified by the thorax which is yellow except for a small, round, black spot in the middle; the first abdominal segment is entirely yellow, the second has a broad, yellow, W-shaped spot in the middle, and the remaining (on the female) are all black; and the hairs on the back of the head are yellow.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/two-spotted_bumble_bee.html

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis)

brown-belted bumble bee

Photo by Christa Rittberg

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) is a small, very common, colonial, ground-nesting bumble bee. It is the second most common bumble bee in eastern North America, after only the common eastern bumble bee. It is less common in Minnesota and the other northernmost states.

Bumble bees are the first bees out in the spring and the last bees out in the fall. Brown-belted bumble bees emerge earlier in the spring than most other bumble bees. They nest in the ground in small colonies of 50 or fewer individuals.

Brown-belted bumble bee is identified by the thorax which is yellow except for a small, round, black spot in the middle; the first abdominal segment is entirely yellow; the second has a single yellow, narrowly U-shaped spot in the middle and a brown band that swoops around the yellow spot; and the remaining are all black.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/brown-belted_bumble_bee.html

Sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma)

sigmoid prominent

Photo by Bill Reynolds

Sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma) is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, nocturnal moth. It is the most common of the four Clostera species found in Minnesota. Adult moths are found from mid-May to mid-August in deciduous woodlands and forests, and in shrubby wetlands and fields.

A sigmoid prominent adult has grayish-brown wings, a dark brown head and upper thorax, and on the male, a dark brown tuft at the end of the abdomen. The wings are crossed by four pale lines. A dark, chestnut-brown area near the end of the forewing is sharply delineated by a prominent white “S”-shaped bar. The species name albosigma means “white S” and refers to this marking. Spring individuals are darker with more highly contrasting markings. Summer individuals are paler and less conspicuously marked.

The caterpillar feeds mostly on quaking aspen, but also on poplar and willow, and sometimes on alder, birch, maple, and elm. It is a solitary feeder. During the day it curls up a leaf of a host plant and sticks it together with silk webbing, make a shelter where it can feed in safety. Adults do not feed.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/sigmoid_prominent.html

Citrus flatid planthopper (Metcalfa pruinosa)

citrus flatid planthopper

A planthopper is an insect in the superfamily Fulgoroidea that resembles a leaf in its environment. It often hops, like a grasshopper, for transportation, but usually walks slowly to avoid detection. There are more than 12,500 planthopper species worldwide.

Citrus flatid planthopper (Metcalfa pruinosa) is native and very common in eastern North America. It has been introduced into southern Europe and is now an invasive species of concern in orchards and vineyards there. It feeds on a wide variety of woody species including maple, elm, willow, black locust, dogwood, hawthorn, elder, grape, and raspberry.

The body of citrus flatid planthopper is flattened laterally, giving it a wedge-shaped appearance when viewed from above. The wings and body are moderately to densely covered with a mealy, bluish-white, waxy powder. When at rest, the wings are tent-like, almost vertically, over the body. There are two dark spots on the basal half of each forewing.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/citrus_flatid_planthopper.html

Meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona)

meadow fritillary

Meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona) is the most common and the most widespread of the lesser fritillaries. It is found from mid-May to mid-September throughout Minnesota in sedge meadows, grassy fields, hay fields, pastures, and roadsides. Males can be seen patrolling low over grassy areas with a slow, zigzagging flight during the day.

Adults feed on the nectar of flowers, mostly those in the Asteraceae family, and especially those with yellow flowers. Caterpillars feed on common blue violet, small white violet, and Canadian white violet.

Meadow fritillary is a medium-sized brush-foot butterfly. It is identified by the squared-off wing tip; the upper side of the wings lacking chevron-shaped, inward-pointing spots and usually lacking a black marginal line; and the underside of the wings having a pale purplish sheen on the outer half and lacking the white or silver spots found on most lesser fritillaries.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/meadow_fritillary.html

Pink underwing (Catocala concumbens)

pink underwing

Photo by Bill Reynolds

Pink underwing (Catocala concumbens) is a medium to large sized, strikingly colored, underwing moth. It is common from northeastern United States, west to the Upper Midwest, and north to Manitoba and Alberta. In Minnesota it is more common in the northern half of the state.

Pink underwing adults are 1¼″ to 1½″ in length and have a wingspan of 2⅜″ to 3″. The forewings are a nondescript, mottled gray and tan with a pale, kidney-shaped spot and two thin, jagged, black lines. The hindings are pink two black bands and a wide white fringe. They are active at night. When at rest the wings are folded roof-like over the body. When approached or disturbed they spread their forewings revealing the startling color of the hindwings, possibly to scare off or give it time to escape a predator.

There are 39 underwing moth species found in Minnesota, and most are similar in appearance. Pink underwing is distinguished by the pale colors and paler reniform spot on the forewings; and by the pink hindwings with a wide, straight, uninterrupted, white fringe.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/pink_underwing.html

Arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera)

arcigera flower moth

Arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera) is common and widespread across North America from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. In Minnesota, it is found from late July to mid-September in fields with asters.

It is active at night and is attracted to light, but can be also found taking nectar on flowers during the day.

This is a small owlet moth. The adult is about ½″ long and has a wingspan of ⅞″ to 1″. It is distinguished from similar moths by dark brown and pale brown coloration, and by a white, smoothly curved, broadly S-shaped postmedial line.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/arcigera_flower_moth.html

Sword-bearing conehead (Neoconocephalus ensiger)

sword-bearing conehead

Photo by Bill Reynolds

Sword-bearing conehead (Neoconocephalus ensiger) is a common, large, meadow katydid. It is often heard at night but seldom seen in daylight. During the day it perches head down on the lower stalk of vegetation with only its wings and hind legs visible, appearing like a grass blade. At night the female can be found near a calling male feeding on the seed head of a grass plant.

Sword-bearing conehead has two color phases, leaf green and dark tan. It is most easily identified by the song of the male. The male has sound-producing organs, a “scraper” at the anal edge of the right front wing and a “file” near the base of the left front wing. By rubbing the file against the scraper the male produces a distinctive song. It is a continuous series of high-pitched lisps, clearly separated, produced at the rate of 10 per second. It is often compared to the sound of a distant locomotive.

Aside from its song, sword-bearing conehead is identified by the long wings and antennae; the rounded “cone” at the top of the head that is separated from the head by a gap; the narrow yellowish edging on the thorax and the front wing; and the curved, sword-like ovipositor on the female.

http://minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/sword-bearing_conehead.html

Masked hunter (Reduvius personatus)

masked hunter

Photo by Bill Reynolds

Masked hunter (Reduvius personatus) is native to Europe and was accidentally introduced into North America. It is now common in eastern and central North America, including Minnesota, but has been reported across the continent.

Masked hunter inhabits woodlands but is often found in human homes. It eats bed bugs and other small insects, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. It is active at night and hides during the day. If handled or trapped between clothing and skin, it can deliver a painful bite. The swelling and stinging from the bite will last up to a week.

At ⅝″ to ⅞″ in length, masked hunter is much larger than any otherwise similar assassin bugs in North America.

http://minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/masked_hunter.html