Friday, July 17, 2009

Tortoise beetle

As I was picking some herb leaves for our dinner salad tonight I noticed something strange on a tomato plant leaf. At first it looked like a bit of bird droppings, but when I looked more closely I realized it was an insect. It was a Tortoise Beetle. It's not hard to see how these insects got their name when you look at their unusual wings. One type of Tortoise beetle is a shiny gold color, it is beautiful. This little guy really looked like a miniature tortoise! It was so interesting, I didn't care that it was eating our tomato plants!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A cicada emerges!

Tonight I got a call from the neighbor behind us, he said, "There's something on my porch railing that is coming out of its skin!" That really piqued my interest, it didn't take me long to get down there with my camera to check it out. I was excited to see that it was a male cicada coming out of his shell after living several years underground. I got a kick out of the position he was in, he looked like a body builder flexing his muscles! Actually it was his still-crumpled wings hanging below, they were taking in fluids and getting larger as we watched.

Finally he grabbed onto the old skin and flipped over, this would allow his wings to dry in a natural position. I know it was a male because of the flat plates on the abdomen, they will be used to make the sound to call a female in the very near future! The 3 red dots in the middle of the cicada's head are his simple eyes, they are used to determine light and dark.

On Sunday afternoon Kenny and I went to Haw Ridge to do a short hike. I found an unusual nymph of some sort, perhaps a katydid. It was very brightly colored and had extremely long back legs. Insects make the world a much more interesting place! :)