Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Orthoptera and Coleoptera report [very partial]

Here's a report from a few weeks ago I forgot to post and left sitting as a draft until now. All insects mentioned are still around.

Snowy Tree Cricket
Photo M. Winn

Snowy Tree Cricket:

A few weeks ago I took a picture of this orthopteran, probably the most audible contributor to our Central Park night soundscape these days: A Snowy Tree Cricket. Here it is, to the left . [Sometime last year I bought my first camera, a Canon Powershot S410 and a few weeks ago I finally figured out how to transfer pictures from that camera to my computer. It was not at all the formidable procedure I thought it would be and I'm sorry indeed I put off doing it so long. A technophobe metamorphosing into a techie ...]

Fireflies are everywhere, flashing their greenish taillights throughout the park. In late July we spotted several pairs of fireflies mating on the trunk of an oak a little south of the Moth Tree

According to Brad Klein, a colorful member of the CP nature community , there are probably as many as 170 species of the firefly family [Lampyridae] in North America, and certainly at least two of them show up in Central Park. Brad went out firefly hunting the other night and wrote:
It seems the ones I caught are probably "Photinus pyralis", undoubtedly
males. I'd like to try and find the females, who lurk in the grass - and
see if there are any other species or genera.

The female Photuris is the infamous Aggressive Mimic who eats gullible
Photinus males. That would be an exciting 'discovery'.
Fireflies, by way, are members of the order Coleoptera -- Beetles.

Now on to a new order -- the Homoptera, an order that includes cicadas, plant and treehoppers, aphids, mealybugs and others. In early July cicadas began to be heard, mainly in the day. But at night on the way to the Moth Tree the Central Park Mothers have been seeing increasing numbers of Cicada nymphs emerging from their cases -- a beautiful sight only available to those who habitually scan tree trunks with flashlights at night.