Jalysus revisited … again

Jalysus (Bertyidae) is one of those frustrating genera which has been difficult for me to wrap my head around.  There are only five species north of Mexico, two of which (spinosus and wickhami) are found in the mid-western region of the United States (Henry 1997).  Jalysus wickhami is distinguished by having a tubercle on the frons while J. spinosus does not.  There are other differences in the degree of punctation on the head and the form of the male genital capsule.  I suppose what confounded me the most was having almost all females in my collection. But I had my “Eureeka” moment when keying a male Jalysus I collected this summer.  Its genital capsule was well preserved and the vertical ridge clearly visible to me.  I grabbed my specimen box and quickly sorted thru my other specimens, all previously ID’d as J. spinosus.  About half were J. wickhami.  Sometimes it just takes that one specimen to finally make the characters unambiguous.  Then it all falls into place!

Jalysus spinosus (Say) – © 2012 tom murray

Literature Cited: Henry, T.J. 1997. Monograph of the stilt bugs, or Berytidae (Heteroptera), of the Western Hemisphere. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Washington 19: 1-149


Florida 2013

Spent about a week in Florida in September.  I will be posting some of the interesting insects I found here, adding more as I have time to sort specimens.

IchneumonidMicrotomus purcisOn the drive home, I stopped to spend the night in Dalton, Georgia.  On the wall of the hotel, I spotted a large assassin bug, Microtomus purcis.  My first attempt to catch the bug failed, as it dropped into the large stones of the landscaping.  Returning about 5 minutes later, it had crawled back up the wall and I finally caught it.  I love reduviids, and this one is probably the coolest one I’ve seen.

Also in the same location I collected several kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria), a couple of which landed on me.  It was the first time I’d seen this insect.

The only other collections here were a male Harpalus (Pseudophonus) pensylvanicus and a neat little Ichneumonid (Cratichneumon paratus).

In Florida, I stayed at my parents home in Rotonda West.  Being September, there were thunderstorms pretty much every afternoon.  Previously, I had only collected in Florida in late May, early June.  It will be interesting to see what differences I see.

Rismethus squamiger

Euborellia annulataI put out a couple of pitfall traps but I don’t think they were well placed.  I did get a few interesting things, including a Rismethus squamiger (Elateridae), several Euborellia annulata (Dermaptera: Anisolabididae), some small flies (Tachinidae, Phoridae, and a few I haven’t ID’d yet), a singular histerid, and of course ants.

Still here…

I haven’t updated this in awhile, so here goes.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to collect much this year.  My trip to Kentucky in May was cool and wet, not necessarily the best weather.  I did see a lone Calosoma scrutator at my light though, which are always neat to see.  A quick sort thru from my light trap didn’t turn up much, but I still need to go thru it in more detail.  There was one beetle that I’m pretty sure belongs to the Clambidae, so I’ll be excited to look at it closer.  If so, it will be the first time I’ve collected that family.  The next morning, I found a Loxocera cylindrica, my first rust fly.

My other chance at collecting was at home in early August.  I decided to throw out the blacklight to see what was around.  I haven’t really sorted thru my sample yet, but I did see one exciting bug, a unique-headed bug (Enicocephalidae).  Only my second specimen, the first having been taken in a Lindgren funnel trap.

Earlier this year, I ordered a copy of Yves Bousquet’s book “Illustrated Identification Guide to Adults and Larvae of Northeastern North American Ground Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae).  I haven’t tried using it for keying beetles yet, but thought I’d talk about some of my impressions so far:

  • Expensive.  Well, any book like this is bound to be expensive.  The cost is around 100 dollars, but since it is sold by Pensoft, you’ll have add international shipping.  Total cost about 120 dollars.
  • “Northeastern” is used narrowly here.  Yves only considers the following states/provinces for this work: VT, NH, and ME in the US, and Quebec eastward in Canada.  I was expecting a somewhat broader area of coverage.  Still, the guide’s excellent coverage will make it useful for adjacent regions.
  • Heavy on abbreviations.  Species information is succinctly presented within the  keys, using a number of abbreviations.  Not really a fault, but will require some page flipping to look up the meanings until the user becomes familiar with them.
  • Excellent glossary.
  • Very nicely illustrated, including both key characters and the color habitus photos.
  • A very detailed section on larval identification.  As with the section on adults, this has a comprehensive glossary and is well-illustrated.  I’ve never worked with larvae, but I’m going to have to try it sometime.

All in all, a great book.

Mangled or Beautiful?

Sorting through specimens sent to me by Tom Murray as photo-vouchers, one of the beetles included was very unusual.

An individual of Disonycha caroliniana, pictured below, had a pretty cool deformity.  The right elytron has an indentation apically while the left elytron is grossly inflated, almost like a bubble.  In addition, some of the pigment of the red vittae bleeds into adjacent areas.  I suppose it was caused by an accident during pupation.  It’s quite unique looking, certainly like nothing I’ve seen before.

Renovation Entomology

My brother bought the condo next to his place in Indianapolis for a really good deal, although the place is a mess.  I was over there today helping him clean it out (filled a dumpster, and need to get a second!!) and found my first BMSB (Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys), just waltzing around on one of the trash bags.  I was pretty excited to find it, even though I’m sure I’ll be seeing many, many more in the coming years.  I was kind of surprised to only find one though.

It was a pretty warm fall day, the kind when lots of insects are cruising around looking for the perfect spot to spend the winter.  Boxelder bugs, Boisea trivittata, were swarming on the sunny side of the building.  Billbugs, Sphenophorus parvulus, were lumbering across the sidewalks, and quite common too.  I also saw a couple Sitona joining them.  The quicker sidewalk bugs included a Geocoris uliginosus and a nice winged female Bethylid (Holepyris sp.) that I scooped up with a leaf (I’ve learned my lesson about handling them, they pack a mean sting, and man is her stinger big).  Also nabbed a tachinid fly that wasn’t very interested in running away from my fingers.  Unfortunately she dropped a few legs when I put her in my vial.

Oh yeah, there is a hornet nest, in the FREAKING wall.  It’s big too, probably bald-faced hornets.  Luckily the inhabitants were all gone.  I’ll have to take pictures of it next weekend.

EDIT: Turns out the wasp nest was from German yellowjackets (Vespula germanica).



I’ve been in Chicago for about the last week.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to do any collecting while there, but I didn’t go away empty handed.  I found a female Anisodactylus harrisii under a stone in my cousin’s backyard.  Next time I’ll have set aside some time and find somewhere to look for bugs!

Pterostichus stygicus vs coracinus

Genitalia of Pterostichus stygicusGround beetles in the genus Pterostichus, subgenus Euferonia, are common woodland beetles in the eastern U.S.  Almost all have reduced wings, so are unable to fly.

I’ve collected a number of specimens that fit into this species pair, but have struggled with separating them with existing keys.  Lindroth noted that “the infraspecific variation of external characters is considerable” and has resulted in many unnecessary names, especially by Casey.

The characters that separate P. stygicus from P. coracinus are the presence of a “tubercle” in the basal fovea of the pronotum and the elytra usually being somewhat iridescent.  The iridescence isn’t hard to see, but the “tubercle” is very subjective.  It appears to be referring to a low ridge or convexity within the fovae, hardly tuberculate in my opinion, and quite variable.  Fortunately, I recently collected a pair of males and decided to consult Lindroth, who illustrates the genitalia of the species.  The shape of the penis is very distinct between the two species: symmetrical in P. stygicus and asymmetical in P. coracinus.  This led to the reevaluation my previously collected specimens, which turned out to be all P. stygicus.

Now I just need to find P. coracinus!