Friday 5: Southern Bugs

(I had this all ready to go last week and then completely forgot to post it! It’s a week old now, but what the heck – I’m posting it anyway.)

It’s been one of those weeks. You know the kind – the ones where absolutely nothing goes your way. So here I am at the end of the week with a topic for Friday 5 but absolutely no photos to go with it – and only a cell phone to connect to the internet as I wait for a delayed flight back home. Wow is it hard to code html on a cell phone! But, I’m going to write the post anyway. You all can make it through one text-only post, right?

This past week I’ve been traveling in the southern US, the Raleigh area of North Carolina mostly. I was very excited to be there because I’ve never been to the south in the summer and I hear stories about the monster bugs that are out en masse and wanted to see it for myself. I wasn’t disappointed! I saw lots of bugs on my trip. Tons! But I was so incredibly busy I wasn’t able to take a photo of a single one. So, you just get descriptions this week with some links to photos, some by me, some by others. Maybe next time I travel things will go more smoothly and I’ll end up with a beautiful photo-filled post, but for now this is what I saw…

1. Comet Darner

I saw my first comet darner! As a lifelong southwesterner, this was incredibly exciting because I’ve rarely even visited places that get them. Bright green thorax, bright red abdomen, huge. It was spectacular! I was beyond excited to see it, flying over a little pond full of snapping turtles. This one insect made my trip. :) If you haven’t ever seen them, I highly recommend checking out Brian Pfeiffer’s gorgeous photos of them, linked above. His photos are well worth a look!

2. Net Winged Beetles

I don’t see many of these and I really enjoy them. Net winged beetles have very soft elytra (the hard shells that beetles have covering their flying wings) and gorgeous antennae. I saw several in a parking lot – even caught a few and let them walk around on my arms a bit. Loved it!

3. Crane Flies

There were SO many crane flies out! I’ve seen a surge in views of my crane flies post over the last month and now I know why. They’re everywhere! And I ended up answering questions about them with strangers, as usual. This is always kinda fun for me. People have a lot of very strong opinions about what crane flies eat (nectar or nothing as adults, NOT human blood) and their relative deadliness to mosquitoes (again, they eat nothing as adults or nectar, NOT mosquitoes), so I try to educate people about them. I’d really like to know where all these urban legends about crane flies come from, so let me know if you know about the sources of these myths!

4. Mosquito

I hate mosquitoes! I’m one of those people that get a million bites when the people next to me get none, and my bites swell up to flaming red, quarter-sized welts over a few days. I was less than thrilled that the only mosquito I saw on my whole trip was sitting on the wall of my hotel. There’s nothing like being eaten alive by mosquitoes inside your hotel room! However, I still think indoor mosquitoes are much better than bedbugs. I do a thorough check of every hotel room I stay in when I travel to prevent losing any of my blood to bedbugs or bringing them back home with me. Everyone should do this these days!

5. Cockroach

I was kinda hoping that if I saw a cockroach that it would be one of the giant cockroaches everyone claims fill the south. All I saw was a single little one, barely even worth mentioning. I only mention it here at all (I saw several other, nicer bugs on my trip!) because I was told that people in Raleigh often call them water bugs because “it sounds better than cockroach.” Yeah, that wouldn’t be at all confusing when people ask me about what I do! I mentally prepared to carefully add the “giant” part of “giant water bug” to try to distinguish my big, awesome bugs from the roaches. Then, wouldn’t you know it, hardly anyone asked me about my work and seemed perfectly content to stop asking questions once I told them I was an entomologist. I had a whole little speech prepared to explain the difference between real water bugs and roaches, then I never even got to use it. Sigh… :)

So that’s a tiny little snapshot of what I saw on my trip. Next time I’ll get pictures! And I’ll be going to Raleigh again, so look for photos in future posts.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth
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