CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Obscure Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca obscura)

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 don’t 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.)

Obscure grasshopper, Schistocerca obscura (Fabricius). This species belongs to a group of especially strong fliers called bird grasshoppers. Its taste for certain valuable ornamental plants such as hibiscus often brings it into conflict with humans. (Source: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in010)

Learn more about grasshoppers in Florida: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066916/00001

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Bidens alba

Natural pathogens also provide built in control of populations of grasshoppers.  My Take:  https://floridawildlifegardentails.wordpress.com/2018/12/07/night-of-the-living-dead/



CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Rainbow Scarab Beetle (Phanaeus vindex) male

Male.  aka Dung beetle. Watch out, they FLY!

Native beneficial. One of the decomposers of animal waste.

“…regular elements in the diet of the burrowing owl in Florida…”

Learn: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000088/00001?search=scarab

Order Coleoptera – Beetles
Suborder Polyphaga – Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles
Superfamily Scarabaeoidea – Scarab, Stag and Bess Beetles
Family Scarabaeidae – Scarab Beetles
Subfamily Scarabaeinae – Dung Beetles
Tribe Phanaeini
(source: https://bugguide.net/node/view/5442)


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Red-marked Pachodynerus Mason Wasp (Pachodynerus erynnis) with prey

a.k.a. Red and Black Mason Wasp

Use caterpillars as larval hosts including many pest species. If you look closely, this one dug some tiny bounty out of the bud.

Learn: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-39_red_and_black_mason_wasp.htm

Superfamily Vespoidea – Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies
Family Vespidae – Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps
Subfamily Eumeninae – Potter and Mason Wasps

Shown on Florida Native Plant: CUBAN JUTE; INDIAN HEMP (Sida rhombifolia)

My take: Spring Nesting Season Isnt Just for Birds

Red-marked Pachodynerus Mason Wasp (Pachodynerus erynnis) digging for prey


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY:  Caribbean Scoliid Wasp (Dielis dorsata)

New to my buggy life list.

syn. Campsomeris dorsata

Superfamily Scolioidea
Family Scoliidae – Scoliid Wasps
Subfamily Campsomerinae

Introduced to Florida. ” to aid in reducing coleopteran pests in sugar cane agricultural systems. … and might still be an important biological control agent of white grubs in sugar cane as well as turf production and maintenance.”

Learn: https://bioone.org/journals/Florida-Entomologist/volume-101/issue-3/024.101.0334/The-Introduction-and-Establishment-of-Campsomeris-dorsata-Hymenoptera–Scoliidae/10.1653/024.101.0334.full

INaturalist is where I got the common name from Caribbean Scoliid Wasp

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Thynnid Wasp (probably Myzinum carolinianum)


Larvae are parasitoids of white grubs so can be used in biological control.

Adults pollinate

Learn: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN85700.pdf

Learn more: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in857 (*)

* It seems that this species was moved from Typhiidae family

Taxonomy (source: bugguide.net):
Order Hymenoptera – Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies
No Taxon Aculeata – Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps
Superfamily Thynnoidea
Family Thynnidae – Thynnid Wasps
Subfamily Myzininae
Genus Myzinum

Key: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288606203_Taxonomic_Purgatory_Sorting_Out_The_Wasp_Genus_Myzinum_Latreille_In_North_America_Hymenoptera_Tiphiidae_Myzininae

Thynnid Wasp (probably Myzinum carolinianum)

My take: Got Grubs? Help is on the Way

Click here to see confirmed photos of female at my place on Saltbush


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: White Peacock Butterfly (Anartia jatrophae)

member of the Brushfooted Butterflies Family (Nymphalidae)

Learn: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wildflowers/butterfly/white-peacock/

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)

Larval hosts: water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora)

Photo of egg from 2017: https://centralfloridacritteroftheday.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/white-peacock-butterfly-anartia-jatrophae-egg/

My take: When a Peacock Isn’t a Bird


CENTRAL FLORIDA CRITTER OF THE DAY: Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly (Perithemis tenera)

Male shown. Quite small. Dragonflies are beneficial as they are predatory on pest insects in both the adult and larval stages. Larval state is aquatic and helps control mosquito larva.

Learn: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/FieldGuideAction.get/id/47478

Learn Key to Florida Dragonflies: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in632

Shown on Florida Native Plant: Spanish Needles (Bidens alba)