Monday, December 14, 2015

Two Merry Millipedes

The brightly-colored Sigmoria millipede above was in my back yard in Aiken County, South Carolina.  

This dark, rosy-toed fellow has a name almost as long as he is:   Narceus americanus -annularis-complex - thank you, !  He was about 7.5 cm long. Notice that millipedes have two legs on each body segment, thus their class name, Diplopoda – “double feet”.  They are detritivores (my new word for the day), meaning they usually eat detritus, decaying plant matter.  They do not bite or sting but millipedes have chemical defenses which can be irritating, especially to your eyes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Texas Bumblebees

Bumblebee enjoying American Basketflower
Michael Warriner from Texas Parks and Wildlife treated the Master Naturalists to an intriguing presentation about Native Bees.  Michael Warriner is the TPW Non-game and Rare Species Program Supervisor.  For the Texas Nature Trackers Program, he created the website   Go there for an easy Bumblebee identification guide and lots of information.  Native bees need our help with food (seasonal, native nectar flowers) and shelter (a nesting location).   At you can learn how to build nesting blocks for our native, non-aggressive, solitary bees.  This is a fine family or school project. Report your Bumblebee spottings!  You can be a “bumble-watcher”.  The bees and flowers pictured here are from my garden.
Bumblebee on Partridge Pea

Bumblebee resting on Salvia, Indigo Spires

Bumblebee on American Basketflower

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pink Grasshopper

Hello again, My Darlings.  

Yesterday my friend, Terri, and I were enjoying a healthy walk.  Bored of our usual walking pattern,  we struck out across a nearby field.  Terri spotted this cool insect.  I had only my older model smart phone to use as a camera, but I was grateful for it.  We had no idea what we were looking at:   a  4 cm long,  four- legged,  pink critter.   If it were a grasshopper, then it would need two more legs! 

I posted the picture to “ID Request” on   The kind, smart folks at BugGuide would know what this was.  Sure enough,  I got an answer:  Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper.  This one is a nymph, probably over-wintering in the dry grass.  Indeed, it is missing the two powerful back legs, and it’s an unusual color.   Green-striped Grasshoppers are usually green or brown.  This fellow demonstrates erythrism (“erythro-“ is a combining form that means “red”) with its remarkable, vibrant coloring.  Given its striking color and lack of hopping legs, I imagine this pink grasshopper will soon be a good meal for a hungry bird.
Erythrism in Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper Nymph
Erythrism in Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper Nymph