Category archives for illinois

The bold, playful style of Graphocephala coccinea, the candy-striped leafhopper, is all the rage this season: photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens ISO 100, f/13, 1/250sec diffused twin flash


Forget the heavy pro-grade camera gear for a moment. This shot was taken with a $300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 digicam. These small cameras do wide-angle macro exceptionally well, and their tiny sensors and lenses give them a small-world perspective that SLR cameras struggle to replicate. Here, I placed the camera on the ground underneath a…

Philothermus glabriculus (Cerylonidae) Urbana, Illinois A while back I noted that, at a rate of one beetle per week, I’d need about 10,000 years to get through all the described species. Since I made that comment we’re getting closer to needing only 9,999 years, but if the Coleopterists keep discovering new ones I’m not sure…

Prenolepis queen

Prenolepis imparis – winter ant (queen) Urbana, Illinois Photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D ISO 100, f13, 1/250 sec, diffused flash

Dendroides fire-colored beetle, Illlinois We in the Friday Beetle Department don’t often turn our attention to immature beetles. But these Dendroides larvae are too striking to pass up. Dendroides fire-colored beetles inhabit the flat, two-dimensional space under the bark of dead trees. The oddly compressed body helps this insect squeeze through tight spaces looking for…

Monday Night Mystery

“Ah, an easy one!” you might think. But no. I’m only handing out 4 points for identifying this common Illinois ant species. I’m more interested in this ant’s quarry, for six points: 2 each for order, family, and genus. First correct guess in each category gets the points. The cumulative point winner at the end…

Learn beekeeping!

What am I doing this summer? Good question. I’m teaching Integrative Biology 496: Introduction to Beekeeping. If you are a University of Illinois student and would like to learn about the biology of Apis mellifera and how to manage a small apiary for honey or just for fun, please consider this 8-week class.  Enrollment is…

Monday Night Mystery

Ok, so we all know this is a wasp.  But what’s with the lumps near the tip of the abdomen? Ten points for identifying the lump, and five points for anyone ambitious enough to put a name on the wasp, too.

Warm day = first ants of the year!

Also, my first ever video blog: [youtube=] Watch the HD version if you can. The ants are actually visible, if you squint.

Answer to the Monday Mystery

At the time I photographed this little scene (at Bell Smith Springs, Illinois) I was myself unsure of the drama playing out on the oak gall. I sent pictures to wasp expert Hege Vårdal to see if my preliminary guess of a pair of gall parasites was worth anything. Her reply: