Insect of the Week: Laetodon

Adapted from page 38-39 of Field Guide to the Flower Flies of Northeastern North America

Laetodon species are small metallic ant flies (Microdontinae) with a posterior appendix on wing vein R4+5. This genus used to be included within Microdon and was described in 2013 by Menno Reemer. The genus Laetodon includes five species, four of them Nearctic and one Neotropical. Only one species occurs within the area of the field guide. Larvae are presumed to be predators in ant nests but have not been described. 

More specifically, the Laetodon laetus is a small metallic ant fly ranging from 6.0-9.7mm in size. These are small, strongly metallic flies that are green, blue, or purple. The tibiae are orange and the flagellum has a short sensory pit on the outside edge. The eye is sparsely pilose. These insects are rare and local, with a flight time ranging from late March (in Florida) to early October (in Arizona), or late May to late September within the area of the field guide. In Maryland, the records are all from mid-to-late July. Larvae are unknown.

Field Guide to the Flower Flies of Northeastern North America
By Jeffrey H. Skevington, Michelle M. Locke, Andrew D. Young, Kevin Moran, William J. Crins, and Stephen A. Marshall

This is the first comprehensive field guide to the flower flies (also known as hover flies) of northeastern North America. Flower flies are, along with bees, our most important pollinators. Found in a varied range of habitats, from backyard gardens to aquatic ecosystems, these flies are often overlooked because many of their species mimic bees or wasps. Despite this, many species are distinctive and even subtly differentiated species can be accurately identified. This handy and informative guide teaches you how.

With more than 3,000 color photographs and 400 maps, this guide covers all 416 species of flower flies that occur north of Tennessee and east of the Dakotas, including the high Arctic and Greenland. Each species account provides information on size, identification, abundance, and flight time, along with notes on behavior, classification, hybridization, habitats, larvae, and more.

Summarizing the current scientific understanding of our flower fly fauna, this is an indispensable resource for anyone, amateur naturalist or scientist, interested in discovering the beauty of these insect.

 

Announcing Britain’s Birds

BirdsWe’re thrilled to announce the release of Britain’s Birds, an essential addition to any birder’s collection.  This user-friendly guide for beginner and experienced birders includes comprehensive coverage of every bird recorded in Britain and Ireland, distribution maps and migration routes, as well as a wealth of tips for identifying birds in the wild. To learn more about the book, listen to a podcast the authors recorded with Talking Naturally, and watch the trailer for a glimpse of the beautiful full color interior. Put together by a group of life-long birders, the book is comprehensive, practical, and full of color images of every plumage you are likely to see in the UK.

 

 

 

The team behind Britain’s Birds:

Rob Hume, a freelance writer and editor for 35 years and editor of RSPB publications from 1983 to 2009, was Chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee, and has led wildlife holidays in the UK, Europe and Africa. Robert Still, co-founder and publishing director of WILDGuides, is an ecologist and widely travelled naturalist. Andy Swash has been involved professionally in nature conservation since 1977 and is managing director of WILDGuides. A renowned photographer, he leads photographic tours worldwide, and has devised, co-authored and edited many books. Hugh Harrop founded the ecotourism business Shetland Wildlife and is one of Shetland’s top birders and naturalists. His award-winning photographs have been published throughout Europe and North America. David Tipling, one of the world’s most widely published wildlife photographers, is author or commissioned photographer for many books and writes regularly for leading wildlife and photographic magazines.

Fun Fact Friday: Hiding in Plain Sight

As my favorite dining hall employee says every Friday, “We made it!” Yes we did, and as a reward for surviving the work week, here’s your Friday fun fact from Arthur V. Evans’s new book Beetles of Eastern North America.

Beetles face a plethora of predators everyday from birds, bats, and rodents to spiders, ants, and even other beetles. In response to the constant threat of being attacked, swooped up in the air, eaten, or all of the above, beetles have developed various ways to protect themselves. The avocado weevil, Heilipus apiatus (Curculionidae), besides having an awesome name, also has a unique way of “hiding” from predators: Bird dropping mimic. These beetles, “which look very much like a bird dropping, are of no interest to predators.” Likewise, “the small, dark, and chunky warty leaf beetles Chlamisus, Exema, and Neochlamisus (Chrysomelidae) hide right out in the open and are often overlooked by predator and collector alike because of their strong resemblance to caterpillar feces.” (Evans 28)

Beetles of Eastern North America, Pg. 28

beetle 2

Pg. 28

 

Hope you enjoyed this weeks Fun Fact Friday from Beetles of Eastern North America and have a great weekend!


 

Arthur V. Evans is the author of:

Evans_Beetles Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans
Paperback | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691133041 | 560 pp. | 8 x 10 | 1,500+ color illus. 31 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400851829 | Reviews  Table of Contents  Preface[PDF]  Sample Entry[PDF]

 

Fun Fact Friday: All’s Fair in Love and Chemical Warfare

Happy Friday, folks! This week’s fun fact from Arthur V. Evans’s Beetles of Eastern North America explores the astounding chemical defenses employed by Coleoptera against their enemies.

Galerita_small

This colorful little insect is called Galerita bicolor. It spends most of its life hiding under tree bark, but if it’s disturbed, it sprays a noxious stream of formic acid out of its rear-end. Yikes!

bombardier_small

And this little guy’s got an even nastier trick up his sleeve. The Narrow-necked Little Bombardier Beetle (Brachinus tenuicollis) releases a boiling mixture of hydrogen peroxide gas, hydroquines, and various enzymes. The cocktail makes an audible popping sound as it exits the insect, and can be sprayed at a predator with great accuracy. An aptly named bug if there ever was one!

Other beetles, such as lady and blister beetles, are even able to make themselves bleed in order to protect themselves. This behavior, called reflex bleeding, occurs when the startled insect exudes bright yellow or orange hemolymph (beetle blood) from the joints of their legs. The hemolymph is laced with toxic chemicals, making them unappetizing to predators.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Fun Fact Friday, and learned one of nature’s most important lessons: think before you touch!


 

Arthur V. Evans is the author of:

Evans_Beetles Beetles of Eastern North America by Arthur V. Evans
Paperback | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691133041 | 560 pp. | 8 x 10 | 1,500+ color illus. 31 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400851829 | Reviews  Table of Contents  Preface [PDF]  Sample Entry [PDF]