CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Bird Grasshopper Nymph (Schistocerca sp.)

DONT THINK PEST, THINK BIRD FOOD! Nymphs of grasshoppers are an important food source for birds especially fledglings who cannot eat seed.

If you maintain a balanced garden and dont use pesticides which can kill the beneficial insects, damage should be minimal to ornamentals.

Tachinid flies (Tachinidae family) are parasites of grasshoppers

Predators: Birds, lizards,mantids, spiders, and rodents eat grasshoppers. (source: http://web.archive.org/web/20150920015140/http://insected.arizona.edu:80/ghopperinfo.htm

Positive Impact on the Ecosystem:
As herbivores, grasshoppers link plants to the rest of the ecosystem. Frass (droppings) contribute to nutrient turnover by returning nutrients as fertilizer for the plants. They provide food for birds and other arthropods. (ibid.)

Learn more about grasshoppers in Florida: http://ufdcweb1.uflib.ufl.edu/UF00066916/00001/1x

Learn about Bird Grasshoppers: http://www.schistocerca.org/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba



CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Crab Spider (Thomisidae family) with Long-legged Fly (Condylostylus sp.) prey

Not a clear enough shot of the spider eyes to determine genus.

Learn to identify crab spiders: http://bugguide.net/node/view/38099

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Flesh Fly (subfamily Sarcophaginae)

Part of nature’s cleanup crew. Since it is feeding on a dead caterpillar this may be Sarcophaga sp.

“The majority of species within the large genus Sarcophaga may be scavengers of small carrion like dead insects and snails as well as smaller vertebrates, and only few species are breeding in larger vertebrate carcases and feces. ” source: http://www.zmuc.dk/entoweb/sarcoweb/sarcweb/biology/Srcphgna/Bio_Sarc.htm

Learn: http://www.zmuc.dk/entoweb/sarcoweb/sarcweb/Sarc_web.htm

Shown on Florida Native Plant:   PINEBARREN GOLDENROD (Solidago fistulosa)

flesh fly


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Syrphid fly Larvae Possibly Ocyptamus sp.

New type to add to my buggy life list.

BENEFICIAL. Can easily be mistaken for caterpillars. In the larval stage they eat soft bodied arthropods such as aphids (shown). As flying adults they are important pollinators.

“When larval populations are high, syrphid flies may kill 70 to 100% of an aphid population.” source: https://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/SyrphidFly.pdf

Identification possibility based on photos of similar larva found via search engine

I am ruling out Ocyptamus fuscipennis which I previously documented in the larval stage: https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/aphids-are-good-wait-what/

It may be Ocyptamus cylindricus species group since I’ve documented adults of that species on Bidens in the past. https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/war-on-aphids/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

syrphid fly larvae

More on Syrphid larvae: http://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/who-are-you-calling-a-caterpillar/


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Yellow-Striped Armyworm Moth Caterpillar (Spodoptera ornithogalli)

Generalist who eat multiple crops so not a favorite with farmers. There are many native hosts and they are parasitize by wasps and tachinid fly which are needed pollinators. Also preyed upon by the likes of damsel, big-eyed and pirate bugs making these moths have an important roll in the circle of life.

Larval host: include but are not limited to Florida native Rumex sp., Lactuca sp. and Plantago sp.

Learn: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/yellowstriped_armyworm.htm

Adult: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/yellow-striped-armyworm-moth-spodoptera-ornithogalli/

Shown on Florida Native Plant:  PINEBARREN GOLDENROD (Solidago fistulosa)


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Spined Assassin Bug (Sinea sp. possibly diadema) nymph

Predaceous on pest insects such as this Skeletonizing Leaf Beetle larva (Ophraella sp.) 

Learn: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Sinea_diadema

Key: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25002917

Shown on Florida Native Plant:  PINEBARREN GOLDENROD (Solidago fistulosa)

My take: Killer in Our Midst: The Assassin Bug

Take 2: Hit Men in the Native Plant Garden

Sinea sp.


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Pygmy Grasshopper (Tetrigidae Family)

pygmy grasshopper

New to my buggy life list. Tiny! Less than an inch long. Saw something hop in the mulch next to the driveway but really didn’t know what I had seen until I zoomed the photo up on the computer screen.

“tetrigids are a very difficult group to identify to species” Source: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

Key: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/choate/florida_tetrigidae.pdf