Friday 5: Biodiversity of a Windowsill

Yesterday I had a meeting where we were discussing citizen science ideas.  We brought up the Lost Ladybug Project to the woman we were meeting with and I assured her that even though it might not seem like she couldn’t do the project now, in January, that I had just that morning found a live ladybug outside my office.  A few minutes later, the woman spotted a ladybug crawling on the window behind me.  (If that didn’t reinforce my point, I’m not sure what would!)  I turned to the window to scoop the ladybug up and happened to notice something.  There was a huge, gorgeous, amazing (but dead) beetle in there!  After the woman left, I returned to the windowsill to retrieve the beetle.  It was spectacular!  But it wasn’t the only thing in there.  In fact, there were five different species of insects in there.  You all know what I do with 5 of any insect related things.  Friday 5!  Today, I bring you the dead insect biodiversity of that windowsill.

The Big, Beautiful Beetle That Prompted This Post

Sculptured pine borer

Sculptured pine borer

I have to say that even though it would have been more exciting to find this guy alive, this is one spectacular beetle!  This also had to be about the easiest beetle I’ve ever tried to ID online.  Found it in less than 30 seconds: the sculptured pine borer, Chalcophora virginiensis.  This beetle is about an inch long with a lot of great texture.  I’m going to make a block print of this one!  The texture is wonderful and it would make a fabulous graphic.

The Ladybugs

Multicolored Asian lady beetles

Multicolored Asian lady beetles

There are a lot of multicolored Asian ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis) in North Carolina.  As the name suggests, they come in a shocking array of different colors.  I believe all the ladybugs in this photo are the same species.  They’re pretty, but they’re not native to the US either.

Unknown Fly

Unknown fly

Unknown fly

I really don’t know my flies very well, but I thought this fly was rather elegant.  It was reasonably large, about a half-inch, and skinny.  A hover fly perhaps?  Any of the fly people out there want to help me out?  I’ve got a good, clear shot of the wing veination if you need it!

(Note: Thanks to Morgan Jackson for identifying this fly as a soldier fly in the family Stratiomyidae and the genus Ptecticus.  According to Morgan, it’s typically found around compost or decaying vegetation and leaf litter.  You’re the best Morgan!)

Headless Leafhopper

Headless leafhopper

Headless leafhopper

This was, surprisingly, the only insect that was missing its head before I removed it from the windowsill.  This one was a lovely pale green on the back, and quite a pretty little bug.  I never did find its head though.  Perhaps decapitation was the cause of death?

Stink Bug

Brown marmorated stink bug

Brown marmorated stink bug

Ah, the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys.  We hadn’t really gotten them in Arizona yet by the time I moved, but there sure are a lot of them here!  They come into buildings during the winter and I’ve seen several live ones over the last month or so.  This one looked like it had languished in the windowsill for some time though – dry and very crispy.  You’ll notice the head is detached in this photo.  That’s my fault – knocked it right off when I was setting it up for the photograph.  Grrr…  I hate it when I do things like that!  

Looking at that windowsill was more exciting than I’d expected it to be!  It prompted me to start looking in some of the other windowsills and the light fixture above my desk to see what I could find.  The latter was a goldmine!  Perhaps I’ll share those finds with you sometime too.  :)

Have a great weekend everyone!


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

16 thoughts on “Friday 5: Biodiversity of a Windowsill

  1. LOVE IT! This was a very fun Friday Five.
    (BTW, a really fun contest idea is to have people try to “count the ladybugs” instead of jelly beans. Gather them just about the time they’re settling into spots to hibernate. Display them for the contestants to count while crawling around live inside a 2L pop(soda) bottle. (The secret is to keep them cool in the fridge so they can be counted easily as they’re placed into the bottle.) It’s amazing how many ladybugs are in just a tablespoon! LOL!

  2. We get seed bugs in the house for most of the year. (I evict about 2 per day!) I first notice them when they are on the inside of the patio doors during the day, but they will seek out the warmth of a lamp in the evenings. (Tip: never vacuum up a live seed bug – they stink when distressed.) Also, the past few months we have had boxelder bugs in considerable numbers. BTW, thanks for all the great blogs in 2012, and looking forward to more of the same in 2013. A belated Happy New Year.

    • Boxelder bugs, huh? I found one in the light fixture in my office. There seem to be a lot more live insects indoors than out during the chilly days we’ve had recently – sounds like you’re experiencing a bit of the same!

      Happy new year to you too!

  3. That’s one of the best windowsill bug hauls ever! The fly is a soldier fly (Stratiomyidae) in the genus Ptecticus. You normally see flies in this genus around compost or decaying vegetation/leaf litter.

  4. I’m about to go check out the light fixtures in my bathroom for bugs. Thanks for the great winter project, as I am feeling bug-deprived.

  5. Here in my house one of the bugs that appears a lot is the
    stink bug. One day my cat enters in my bedroom with a lot of saliva
    and with his eyes closed. So I went to the balcony to see what he
    could have eaten, and there it was, a stink bug, a very green one.
    Nice project :) In my house I don’t see a lot of insects on the
    windowsill. And the most common are: fly! Kisses

    • I mostly get flies in my windows at home too, so I was thrilled to find so many things in the window at work! Sorry your cat had a run in with a stink bug too. They’re stinky for just that reason!

  6. What a fun idea (and I am impressed by your awesome beetle)! All I found in my windowsill was a squashed box elder bug. :-( But I did have the place cleaned before I moved in.

    I’ve been seriously considering making a collection of all the insects I find in my condo for year, though, since I got a surprisingly number of interesting critters for my collection last fall out of my old apartment. My cats were very helpful assistant collectors!

    • Ooh, that’s a great idea! Could be really interesting! The Arthropods in Your Home citizen science project is discovering some fascinating things about the arthropods that live in human dwellings, so I’m sure you can learn a lot if you do it.

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