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Dsmith74

Calling All Entomologists

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Ok I'm going to post this in the "Problem Diagnosis" forum, although I'm starting to think maybe they are not a problem after all. But I'm not sure where else to put it. Maybe we need a "What is this?" forum for posting pics of anything needing identification? Anyway, this morning I was swarmed by these:

 

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Just how many is a swarm? I don't know if this does them justice, but

Check the lower right especially.

 

When I first saw them outside the window, I thought "Thrips" but on closer inspection, they are way to big, even for adults. Also, when they land, they move fast which is not characteristic of plant suckers in my experience. Finally, look at the size of those eyes. Would anybody that's not eating somebody else needs eyes like that? So what are they, and what are they doing? Some kind of robber fly? They definitely seem focused on the rugosa roses (which are heavily infested with thrips). I hope they're hunting them, but I don't know what they're doing for sure.

 

Well, actually I do know one thing they're doing for sure. <_<

 

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Wait, is that what they're doing? Or is the, er, connection an illusion due to perspective? If not, look at the big (female?) in front - no big eyes! Maybe the big eyes are for hunting babes, like sunglasses on fraternally-associated college students.

 

There were a couple of other visitors out there this morning too. I missed the tiger swallowtail - I've lost my good camera and the iPhone doesn't zoom enough - and the tiny, gold spiders were too little to photograph without more macro power. But I did get this beetle. Black and gold is always a winning color scheme in my book.

 

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It's hard to see in these pictures, but when they land on the window I can see there is no extreme narrowing between the thorax and abdomen (the middle and last segments of the body) on these. That's distinctive for ants as far as I know. If it doesn't have it, then it can't be an ant.

 

But I think I found them. They're called March flies, genus Bibionidae. It's the same genus as the "love bugs" in Florida. Sadly the adults don't eat thrips (or anything else). Like ants, they all emerge at once to mate, but then they lay eggs and die while female ants go on to live a long, oviparous life. So I guess those big eyes ARE for scoping out the ladies!

 

Interesting etymology on the genus name. Any time you see -idae on the end it means akin (related) to. And in Latin bibio or bibion apparently, according to Merriam-Webster, refers to little bugs found in wine. Now what little wine bugs are these kin to? I lost the trail there. I can't find any bibions or bibios on the web. Of course they are in the same suborder as mosquitos, so maybe some Roman bar tender was stretching his supply with a dip from the rain barrel, as in related to "those bugs (that hatch from the larvae) in the wine" or some such. Or more likely, if they were classified in Linneaus's time, some cheap bartender popular with 18th century Swedish grad students.

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FYI for 'Garden AtoZ' forum members who aren't aware: Interesting insect I.D. site - http://www.whatsthatbug.com/

 

Yup! A guess was just a shot in dark without seeing first person - would have been helpful to have listed in the first post that ants had been eliminated and there was no narrowed or segmented body parts - not to mention that the insect kindly lift its wings so we could view the "rest of the story"...

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I actually didn't eliminate ants until after the post. Without your ant guess I never would have found it. It made sense with the swarm-type behavior, so I did a google image search and there was a March fly pic mixed in with the ants. I still wasn't sure so I decided to go grab one (they are not afraid of me at all - in fact they were landing on me the whole time I was of there). Turns out I didn't need to, as there was one sitting on the front screen door. Took a look, and then eliminated ant. So thanks for the lead.

 

That ID site is pretty cool. I'll have to bookmark that one.

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I have a similar question regarding what I think might be sod webworms. I've searched the internet for pictures but haven't come up with any matches. If they aren't sod webworms then I don't know if they are good guys or bad guys. With the volume I've found, I assume they aren't good.

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They don't look segmented enough to have been webworm, plus webworm eats at the crown of the grsas plant. These look more like the sawfly larvae I was just mentioning in Flower under Lysimachia....

Did you nab any and hatch 'em out, by any chance?

Sorry to have missed it.

We've actually spent a good deal of time on various occasions crawling around in the lawn looking for webworms to photo and never found such a batch of good stuff. If we had, would've made me want to stand up and flag down a starling or a robin!

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