Thursday, April 30, 2015

Emerald Euphoria Beetle

Emerald Euphoria (Euphoria fulgida) are beetles in the family Scarabaeidae that are native to North America. They are not especially common east of the Rocky Mountains and can be highly variable in their coloration.
 There are 59 described species within the genus Euphoria and all are native to the Americas. Most are found in Central and South

The one pictured here was found yesterday under a rock and was already dead. I'd never seen a beetle quite like it and I'm not sure what killed it. It did not appear to be harmed in anyway and was completely intact. When I first found it I thought it was a Green June Bug (Cotinis nitida) which are very common around here. The coloring wasn't quite right for a Green June Bug so I suspected it was something different and decided to keep it until I could get an ID on it. Once I figured out it was a new species for me I decided to keep it to add to my collection. It's always fun to find something new, a lifer if you will.

The range for this particular species is listed as New Mexico east to Florida, and Maine west to Colorado. There is a blue form that is found from New Mexico to Colorado. They are a medium sized beetle reaching lengths from 12 to 19 mm. Overall greenish in color with bright shiny elytra and pronotum. There may be some amber, reddish-brown or gold coloration along the edges of the wings.

Adults are often found in meadows, or fields full of flowers where they consume nectar or pollen. They may also be found in timbered areas where they will also feed on sap leaking from trees. In flight they are often mistaken for bees. They are most often encountered from May through July, but may be found as early as March or as late as November.

The larva are found a few centimeters under the surface of rich soil, and organic matter like manure, and compost. May also be found in pack rat middens, and ant nests. Larvae feed on manure. Depending upon the species, some will overwinter as adults and others spend the winter underground as larva.

If you'd like to read more on this beetle please visit my friend Eric's blog post at Bug Eric

Goes to show that you never know what you will find when you flip rocks, almost always it is sure to be interesting.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Northern False Widow

Northern False Widows (Steatoda borealis) are very common in Missouri, and they happen to be one of the spiders I receive a lot of inquiries about. They are native to the Eastern United States (mostly in the Northern states) but are now found in many Southern states. As its name suggests it resembles a widow with a very round, bulbous abdomen and dark colored body. When faced with a spider that looks like a black widow, people want to know if these spiders are dangerous. I am happy to let them know that this spider is completely harmless and poses no serious threat to humans whatsoever. I point out that true black widows are "black" and have red markings on the underside of their belly, usually in the shape of a hour glass. Although there is a species of Northern Black Widow in Missouri that has a broken hour glass, or something that looks like two triangles with points that don't quite touch. While black widows can give a painful bite that can land you in the emergency room, bites are rare as these spiders generally remain in or near their web and aren't prone to traveling much to seek prey, which means encounters with humans generally don't happen.

 There are a few spiders in the genus Steatoda which possess venom capable of causing medically significant responses in humans, but most do not. The majority of people who may be bitten by one of these spiders would not experience any reaction at all. Like all spiders they have venom which is used to subdue prey, it is not designed to cause harm to human tissue, but if you are allergic to the proteins in the venom a very serious reaction may occur.

This species has a dark brown body, and a lighter brownish-red abdomen with a yellow or cream color "T" marking. The underside of the abdomen is much lighter than the top.

 Reaching lengths up to 7 mm, females are larger than males, as is the case with most spiders. Females construct messy webs that males will tap on to signal to the female that he is nearby and interested in mating. The male will tap on the web in a specific little dance that hopefully the female will find enticing in terms of mating and not dining. If she is not in the mood for mating, she will capture him and treat him like any other unfortunate arthropod that finds itself in her web. However if she is receptive mating will occur. After mating, the female will form two or more egg sacs that she  places at the edge of her web and will guard. Egg sacs hatch in the fall when many dozens of spiderlings will disperse into the environment. Some females will overwinter if the weather is warm enough or if they are able to find a sheltered area.

These spider will often build their webs in the corners of our homes, especially in cellars and basements, as well as outside under logs, rocks or other debris. Like all spiders they are beneficial because of their preference for many insects that may become pests like flies and certain species of moths.