What is your Favorite Lifer from this week?

I agree with @dominid, that’s a cool wasp!

It’s so tiny! I never would have guessed it was a wasp.

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I agree with all the other reactions to this wasp. Wow!

And this is a pretty rare observation on iNat, only the second one reported from Africa!

Is a genus considered cosmopolitan if it has only been seen on four continents (and the island of Kauai)? Or perhaps it’s a very low population invasive?

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Sticking with my Italian theme of geometry, I found a pair of mating Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetles (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata). In Dutch, the name is Schaakbordlieveheersbeestje. Lieveheersbeestje is lady beetle, and Schaakbord means chess board!

Over the past years I photographed so many Asian Lady Beetles just trying to find something that is not an Asian Lady Beetle. I even stopped uploading yet another Asian Lady Beetle, just using the CVS to see, oh yes, it’s another one, nevermind the upload.

Interestingly enough, worldwide there are 1173 species of Lady Beetles, heading towards one million observations. I have observed only five species so far.

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I have the same experience and posted in the iNat Milestones thread a few months ago when I had something take over top spot as my most observed species. I thought Asian Lady Beetles was going to remain in first for much longer.

Doing slightly better with ladybird beetle species in general, having recorded 16 species. Still a few missing from those observed in Korea that I would like to someday find.

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Probably this Baltimore oriole I photographed at the Fisk Quarry Preserve in Isle La Motte. I think it has been at least a decade since I last saw one, so encountering this bird felt quite special.

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Ladybeetles in general are quite fun to look for.
They are

  • pretty
  • many of the adults rather easily identifiable
  • mostly big enough to be easily spotted, but small enough that you have to look closely
  • is most cases common enough that it’s not something you have to look for your whole life, but rare enough that it’s still special when you find one
  • there are enough species everywhere to always have a new one you want to find

I love ladybeetles. :D

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If you are looking to add more lady beetles to your list, you might take a close look at any local bryony plants – Henosepilachna argus should be present in the Netherlands and it is one of the few European lady beetles that has a plant-based diet. (It looks like you are maybe at the edge of the range for Andrena florea, a bee that specializes in bryony pollen, so you can keep an eye out for it on blooming plants, too.)

I’ve also had good luck finding one of the mildew eaters – Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata – in wooded areas on Impatiens.

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Yeah! It’s up Icicle Creek canyon in Leavenworth WA :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

As it happens, my favorite from this week is in the same genus as an observation from one year ago this week:


What I find so neat about it, besides the coincidence of dates, is the biogeography lesson. The Common Watersnake (of which the Northern is a subspecies) is widespread but absent from most of the Coastal Plain:

Whereas the Brown Watersnake is strictly confined to the Coastal Plain:

If you look at satellite imagery, you can see the Fall Line across Georgia and the Carolinas – the topographic break that marks the transition from the Coastal Plain to the Piedmont. It is even more visible on those false-color vegetation maps. Not just watersnakes, but various herps “recognize” the Fall Line as a speciation boundary.

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I’m noticing that, too. I’m beginning to wonder if there are any native lady beetles left. Did the Asian lady beetles wipe them all out? The Khanate of Lady Beetles?

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I just looked. I have found 17 species in my area up to now, and Asian Lady Beetles are number 4 on the list, number wise. Could be that I see more of the others because I do not often search in urban areas, and that is where I find most of the Harlequins.

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This week has seen a pickup in iNaturalist activity for me, and with it some new lifers! Of all the lifers I have gotten this week, my favorite would have to be this well overdue Vanessa virginiensis flying around my yard.

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Another trip to the tunnel on the edge of town resulted in another lifer for me – this time Gabala argentata, or 은무늬모진애나방 in Korean:

Last week I added an observation for something that I can only narrow down as far as ‘Lepidoptera’ but which was quite interesting – the caterpillar would inch along the top of some railing, then move the upper part of its body to one side or the other as though it were mimicking a snake.

Video: https://youtu.be/RTBQ9_l73fs

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Saw this random colorful bug sit next to the trail. It’s called Eurydema rotundicollis.

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The Asian’s colossal success is due largely to its resistance to a bacterial infection (sorry, bacterium name escapes me) which kills other lady beetles. I remember reading about this sorta recently.

And as the bacterium stays alive inside the Asians, it means that it has become a prime vector.

I think that the paper also mentioned that surviving populations of non-Asian species are just starting to pick up resistance too, so we could see a swing back.

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Last week, I got my lifer Moonseed Moth (Plusiodonta compressipalpis).

And this week, I found my first caterpillar of the same species.

Once I figured out the ID for the caterpillar, it prompted me to go back and look for the host plant, because Moonseed (Menispermum canadense) would also be a lifer. No Moonseed, but I did find Carolina Snailseed (Cocculus carolinus)(assuming my ID is correct) which is in the same family, so potentially the host, and is also a lifer!

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I was walking back the last bit of a hike when I looked at a plant and saw something I couldn’t place at all, but stood out immediately for its appearance. The Horned Treehopper (Centrotus cornutus) has a horn alright, no need explaining that name! And because of it, it immediately became a clear favourite observation!

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While looking for wood-decaying fungi in a small forest patch with lots of dead wood, I found this cool slime mold (probably Oligonema persimile), which apparently is either quite rare or very rarely reported at least.

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