OK, I'm hooked. Who knew there were so many interesting creatures roaming around at night, waiting to be drawn into sight by my porch light? My foray into the night-creature world earlier this week turned up several different types of insects (and one amphibian -- more on that later), and I've been checking the light every night since then. Here's a brief overview of some of the widely disparate creatures I've found since Wednesday.
First is some species of crane fly, a huge and harmless member of the fly family (order Diptera) -- when I was little, I had many, many arguments with my friends about whether these are mosquitoes or not; they're not:
Speaking of mosquitoes, though, this next creature should be familiar to most people. I don't know exactly what species of mosquito it is, but from what I've read, I'm pretty sure it's a female -- males tend to have "fuzzier" antennae. Thankfully, she didn't try to make a meal of me:
This tiny creature may look like a moth, but in fact it's a fly (order Diptera again, so more closely related to the crane fly and mosquito above than to actual moths) -- moth flies like this Filter Fly (Clogmia albipunctata) are apparently very helpful for cleaning sewage pipes and the like, and are often found near buildings and especially bathrooms (yay?):
Here's a Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala terminalis), the adult form of the blue-butted nymph I found in my garden earlier this year:
This rather large leafhopper (Coelidia olitoria, my goodness but the people at BugGuide.net are helpful) looks positively alien, staring at me as it hangs upside down from the ceiling:
Bugs don't get much more alien than this next creature, though, a completely new one for me -- it's a Long-necked Seed Bug (Myodocha serripes), appropriately named for its long "neck" (look for the eyes to help orient you to this creature's anatomy) and the fact that it eats seeds:
Also visiting were a few different types of caddisflies (order Trichoptera), which somewhat resemble moths with their feathery wings, but which are actually a different type of insect altogether. Here's a rather large caddisfly which I thought was quite pretty with its auburn shading (I don't know the exact species):
Beetles apparently like the lights, too. I've seen quite a few of this species of beetle over the past few nights -- it's some sort of click beetle or false click beetle, I think, although I haven't been able to make an exact identification:
This lovely green beetle I was able to identify, and it's probably a good thing I did. It's a Northern Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica barberi), a pest insect on corn. We're thinking about trying to grow corn next year, so I guess I'll be keeping my eye out for these guys in the future:
I was a little surprised to see this mayfly (order Ephemeroptera) hanging around, since they're supposed to stick close to water -- but then, we do have a stream across the street from our back yard, so I guess that counts:
Moths are always fun to look at, and even in shades of brown and gray they often show such interesting and intricate patterns. I especially like the pattern on this Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth (Spodoptera ornithogalli):
And this geometrid moth (genus Hypagyrtis) has some pretty cool wings as well, and nice feathery antennae to boot:
Here's a small crambid snout moth (genus Diathrausta), with its slate-gray wings and decorative white spots:
Finally, a happy observation: The Spring Peeper (dubbed "Kristoff"; I can only assume it's the same frog) is still hanging around! I took the opportunity to snap a photo of him/her on Wednesday next to my lens cap -- the cap is ~2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, so that should give you an idea of how dinky this frog is (and I didn't use flash this time, to spare the little guy's eyes):
Update (8/22/11): I just now thought to compare the pictures of this frog to the previous pictures I posted, and it turns out they're not the same individual after all -- the patterns on the two frogs' backs are subtly different, but different all the same. I saw yet a third peeper on the porch last night, again with a different identifying pattern, so rather than a single frog hanging around, it looks like we have a population of peepers who stop by every once in a while. That's perfectly fine with me. :)
I looked away for a few minutes, and when I looked for Kristoff again, he wasn't on the step anymore... but scurrying up the railing instead. Those padded toes really do their job!
I'll continue checking the lights for as long as creatures keep coming to them, but I'll refrain from making a post until I see something really cool. I'm holding out for a super awesome moth!