Wolf Spiders Love Tiger Beetles- For Lunch!

Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to explore some private property in a beautiful sandhill habitat near Bronson, Florida.  The site was newly acquired by friends of mine, and I’d been waiting for weeks to do some exploring there.  Thus, I was full of anticipation for a great day in the field, since I knew I would find some neat critters…  But I never would have guessed what I would end up finding!

Sandhill habitat near Bronson, Levy County, Florida, USA, 23-XI-2013

Sandhill habitat near Bronson, Levy County, Florida, USA, 23-XI-2013

At about noon, in a small clearing in the Turkey Oak- Sand Live Oak- Longleaf Pine habitat, I saw a large gray spider running, then taking cover, some 25 feet or so away from where I was standing.  I promptly headed over to find and photograph the spider.  As with most well-camouflaged critters, it took me a few moments to spot the spider among the leaf litter.

Wolf spider, Hogna sp., nestled in the leaf litter, USA, Florida, Levy Co., nr. Bronson, 23-XI-2013

Wolf Spider, Hogna sp., nestled in the leaf litter, USA, Florida, Levy Co., nr. Bronson, 23-XI-2013

As I was taking photos, I realized the spider was chewing on something, though I could not tell what, since I couldn’t get a clear view of its head.  So I decided to tap the spider with my finger to see if I could get it to move into a different position, in order to figure out what it was eating, and to get better photos.

Wolf Spider, after being flushed from its initial hiding place

Wolf Spider, after being flushed from its initial hiding place

The spider was cooperative, and moved a short distance into an open area, with its legs evenly spread.  I maneuvered myself to where I could get a good look at the spider’s face, then got on my belly for some clear shots.  I could not believe what I saw!  The spider was eating a Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris unicolor)!  Tiger Beetles are hard to sneak up on, and are even harder to catch!  They are known for their running ability and fast flight- they are extremely wary…  I’ve seen Robber Flies catch Tiger Beetles in flight before, but never imagined that a spider could sneak up on one at catch it!

Chelicerae piercing elytron!

Chelicerae piercing an elytron!

I observed the spider for several minutes, as I took photos.  Then I repositioned the spider- with a gentle tap- again, and again, to get photos from different angles in different poses.  At one point, the spider became startled by my tap and dropped the beetle carcass, but readily resumed feeding when I dangled the beetle remains in front of its chelicerae.

Chewing on the tiger beetle's head!

Chewing on the tiger beetle’s head!

Within a few short minutes, all that remained of the Tiger Beetle was a section of the head and the elytra, parts that were ultimately left behind.

Chelicerae meet mandibles!

Chelicerae meet mandibles!

The Festive Tiger Beetle is common in sandhill habitats in much of Florida, and is active, depending on the weather, from late September to April, passing the winter as adults and mating in the spring.  They are some of the most brilliantly colored beetles in the region.

Festive Tiger Beetles (Cicindela scutellaris unicolor), in much happier times, near Bronson, Florida

Festive Tiger Beetles (Cicindela scutellaris unicolor), in much happier times, near Bronson, Florida

Big thanks to Mary and Grant for allowing me to explore their property- I hope to return soon!

I had to go back for more Rosemary Grasshoppers!

I’ve learned that whenever I have a really fantastic experience in the field, with a special critter, it is always worth going back for a second day to learn more.  If you saw my original post on the Rosemary Grasshopper (Schistocerca ceratiola), you undoubtedly noticed that I was pretty excited about finally finding it- I’d been searching for months.  But I only found one!  My curiosity about the species was too much to bear, and I returned to the site two days later (this past Monday) to try to learn more about the Holy Grail of Florida grasshoppers!

I concentrated my time around stands of Florida Rosemary bushes (Ceratiola ericoides), and spent a lot of time visually inspecting the bushes, as well as beating them with my net handle in hopes of jostling the grasshoppers from deep within the bushes.  Here is a dense stand of Florida Rosemary from Monday:

Stand of Florida Rosemary near Bronson, Levy County, Florida, 11 November 2013

Stand of Florida Rosemary near Bronson, Levy County, Florida, 11 November 2013

Mid-morning, I flushed a male Rosemary Grasshopper as I walked past a partly shaded Rosemary bush.  He settled on an exposed branch, giving me a clear view and great photo opportunity!  But right as I was about to take the first shot, he jumped, and despite several minutes of searching, I could not find him again. Bummer!

It wasn’t until late afternoon that I found others.  As I was beating the Rosemary bushes, something caught my eye among the moving vegetation.  Something suspicious failed to jump upon my whacking of the vegetation, but remained at the tip of a Rosemary branch.  As soon as I saw it, I froze in my tracks (as if that would do any good after beating the bush with my net handle), but there, holding on tight, was a mating pair of Rosemary Grasshoppers!  And they were perched in a place where I could get some photos!

Mating pair of Rosemary Grasshoppers (Schistocerca ceratiola) on 11 November 2013

Mating pair of Rosemary Grasshoppers (Schistocerca ceratiola) on 11 November 2013

This pair of grasshoppers was a photographer’s dream, since they essentially refused to move, allowing me to take as many pics as I wanted!  How lucky to come across a mating pair!!

After I had all the photos I needed of this pair, I carefully scanned the Rosemary bush they were perched on, and found a second male just a foot or so away, also clinging to the tip of a Rosemary Branch!  He was not as cooperative for photos, but I could not help but wonder if he was involved in a (failed) courtship attempt with the female so close by.

Searches the rest of the afternoon turned up no additional Rosemary Grasshoppers.  But I count myself as extremely lucky to have had more time observing this reclusive grasshopper, which is restricted to peninsular Florida, and learning more about its ways!  I’ll never pass another Florida Rosemary bush without giving it a long, careful examination!

 

 

 

Rosemary Grasshopper (Schistocerca ceratiola)- The Holy Grail of Florida Grasshoppers!

Like so many stories about insects, this adventure begins with a plant.  A really cool plant!  Florida Rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) is endemic to Florida and adjacent states, and is an indicator of sand ridge and dune habitats.  This is what a pristine sand ridge habitat in peninsular Florida looks like- complete with Florida Rosemary bushes:

Sand ridge habitat in Levy Vounty, Florida

Sand ridge habitat in Levy County, Florida

Despite its common name and appearance, Florida Rosemary is not related to culinary Rosemary (Rosmerinus officinalis), but for one particular grasshopper, it is just as tasty.

Florida Rosemary bushes can grow to 15 feet tall- the tallest here about 5 feet

Florida Rosemary bushes can grow to 15 feet tall- the tallest here is about 6 feet

Florida Rosemary produces fresh vegetation throughout much of the summer and fall, providing a unique resource for a unique grasshopper.  Would you believe there are grasshoppers hiding deep within these bushes?  Big grasshoppers!

Fresh, new growth on today's Florida Rosemary bushes. Grasshopper food!

Fresh, new growth on today’s Florida Rosemary bushes. Grasshopper food!

Unknown to science until 1928, the Rosemary Grasshopper is a large (28-32 mm in length) grasshopper in the genus Schistocerca.  Grasshoppers in this genus are commonly called Bird Grasshoppers due to their large size and strong flight.  Appropriately for the Rosemary Grasshopper (Schistocerca ceratiola), it was named after its unique foodplant (Ceratiola ericoides).

Unlike most grasshoppers, which are generalists that feed upon many plants, the Rosemary Grasshopper feeds only on Florida Rosemary!  This grasshopper is very rarely seen, since it is usually active only at night.  Add to this its extremely restricted distribution to pristine sand ridge habitats in central peninsular Florida (it does not range outside of the state), and the Rosemary Grasshopper is literally the Holy Grail of Florida grasshoppers!

After many months of beating rosemary bushes with the handle of my insect net, in hopes of jostling the Holy Grail of Florida grasshoppers, today I was finally successful!  In the early afternoon, while routinely beating rosemary bushes, I flushed a large, grayish grasshopper, which immediately settled deep within a nearby rosemary bush.  Upon settling within the bush, on the grey branches, it was almost invisible:

Rosemary Grasshopper hidden deep within Florida Rosemary plant

Rosemary Grasshopper hidden deep within a Florida Rosemary plant, near Bronson, Levy County, Florida, 8 October 2013

This grasshopper felt very much at home within the rosemary bush, and was reluctant to move when disturbed.  I was able to part the rosemary branches to get a better view, and could even touch the grasshopper (it crawled onto my finger at one point)- at most it would jump to a nearby branch.  Thus, we had several minutes together, as I attempted to photograph her in detail.  I enjoyed watching her move, so very slowly, along the rosemary branches.  Every time I took my eyes off of her, I literally lost her and had to make her jump to see her again!

Eye-to-eye with a Florida Rosemary grasshopper

Eye-to-eye with a Florida Rosemary grasshopper

Despite its long wings and strong flight, the Rosemary Grasshopper is extremely sedentary, and pretty much refuses to leave its rosemary bushes during daylight hours.

Side view of Rosemary Grasshopper, deep within Florida Rosemary bush

Side view of Rosemary Grasshopper, deep within a Florida Rosemary bush

After this chance encounter, I spent much of the rest of the afternoon searching nearby rosemary bushes for more grasshoppers.  Five or six times I thought I saw one deep within a bush, but each time was a false alarm.  For this large grasshopper to have hidden from science until 1928 at first seems remarkable, but after an afternoon observing one within a rosemary bush, I can understand why!  The Rosemary Grasshopper is an incredible master of camouflage!  It is also an incredibly unique part of a special, endangered Florida habitat.  I’m so happy to have finally found one!

The Harvester- America’s only Carnivorous Butterfly

In the Americas, there is but a single species of carnivorous butterfly.  Unlike other American butterflies whose larvae feed on plants, caterpillars of the Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius) feed only on wooly aphids!  Living wooly aphids!  Throughout the range of the Harvester in eastern North America, various species of wooly aphids are utilized for food.  Here in peninsular Florida, just one species of wooly aphid is used, Neoprociphilus aceris, an aphid that feeds uniquely on spiny greenbrier (Smilax) vines.

The caterpillars are small, slug-like creatures that frequently feed in groups.  Locally, It is common to see several caterpillars together, working their way along a greenbrier vine, chomping down all the aphids as they go.

Harvester caterpillars eating wooly aphids, FL: Alachua Co., UF campus at NATL, October 2012

Harvester caterpillars eating wooly aphids, FL: Alachua Co., Gainesville: UF campus at NATL, October 2012

Amazingly, the aphids make no attempt to flee from the approaching caterpillars, instead, they just wait to be the next one to be eaten! Here is what it looks like as a Harvester caterpillar tears into an unsuspecting aphid:

Harvester caterpillar eating a wooly aphid, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, October 2012

Harvester caterpillar eating a wooly aphid, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, October 2012

In many parts of the range of the Harvester, the caterpillars are myrmecophilous (that is, actively tended by ants), but I’ve never noticed ants tending Harvester larvae in Florida.  What’s cooler?  Harvester caterpillars produce acoustical signals, the purpose of which remains largely unknown.

So, all of this is pretty amazing!  But it gets better.  The pupae have been described in the literature, for over a century, as as resembling a monkey’s face.  I’m not sure I necessarily see a monkey’s face in the pupa, but I definitely see a face!

Harvester pupa, FL, Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, October, 2012

Harvester pupa, FL, Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, October, 2012

Harvester adults are delicate-looking butterflies that remain close to aphid populations.  They are most active in the afternoon, and males guard perches in the canopy where they await passing females.  These perches are usually 2-4 meters above ground-level, but occasionally, lower perches will be utilized.  Today I got lucky, and found this male Harvester guarding a perch at eye-level, allowing me to get some photos:

male Harvester, perched, waiting for passing females, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville: UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

male Harvester, perched, waiting for passing females, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville: UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

While there are many related carnivorous butterfly species in Africa and Asia, the Harvester is truly unique among American butterflies!

Grasshoppers of Florida

After loving grasshoppers as a kid, then subsequently paying them little attention, I’ve fallen back in love with grasshoppers!  Probably the main reason grasshoppers have returned to the top of my list of favorite insects is due to a great book that enables me to identify virtually all of the species in Florida, where I’ve been living since 2006.  Easy access to species-specific information always makes learning a new group more fun and rewarding, and I thank Dr. Capinera for paving the way for me!

For the past few months, I’ve attempted to photograph most of the grasshopper species I encounter, as I try to learn them.  I’ve found grasshoppers to be incredibly photogenic, and usually not too difficult to sneak up on to photograph with a macro lens (100mm).  That is, not too difficult compared to butterflies…

Up until now, I’ve simply tweeted all of my grasshopper photos, in order to share them with anyone interested.  In an effort to keep track of which Florida species I’ve photographed, plan trips to photograph missing species, and to archive these photos in a place where they may be more easily accessible, I’ve decided to maintain the following list of Florida grasshopper species, illustrated with my photos, as a blog post.  I’ll update this post regularly as I obtain additional photos.

While the Capinera book is by far the best reference for Florida grasshopper species, much new information has been gathered since the book’s publication, and several new taxa have been described.  Currently, the most up-to-date list of Florida grasshopper species is maintained by the Mississippi Entomological Museum, listing 94 taxa (88 species + some subspecies) for the state.  The list below is taken directly from the Mississippi Entomological Museum’s site, and will be updated as their list is updated.

Gomphocerinae

Achurum carinatum (F. Walker)  Longheaded Toothpick Grasshopper

Achurum carinatum, FL: Levy Co., near Bronson, 7-XII-2013

Achurum carinatum, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 7-XII-2013

FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 19-V-2013

Achurum carinatum male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 19-V-2013

Amblytropidia mysteca (Saussure)  Brown Winter Grasshopper

Amblytropidia mysteca, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Amblytropidia mysteca, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Dichromorpha elegans (Morse)  Elegant Grasshopper

Dichromorpha viridis (Scudder)  Shortwinged Green Grasshopper

male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Dichromorpha viridis male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

female, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Dichromorpha viridis female, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

female, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Dichromorpha viridis female, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Eritettix obscurus (Scudder)  Obscure Slantfaced Grasshopper

Mermiria bivittata (Serville)  Twostriped Mermiria Grasshopper

Mermiria intertexta Scudder  Eastern Mermiria Grasshopper

Mermiria picta (F. Walker)  Lively Mermiria Grasshopper

Orphulella pelidna (Burmeister)  Spotwinged Grasshopper

male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Orphulella pelidna male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Orphulella pelidna male, FL: Levy Co., Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, 8-XII-2013

Orphulella pelidna green form male, FL: Levy Co.: Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, 8-XII-2013

Orphulella pelidna ovipositing female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Orphulella pelidna ovipositing female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Syrbula admirabilis (Uhler)  Handsome Grasshopper

Syrbula admirabilis male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Syrbula admirabilis male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Acridinae

Metaleptea brevicornis (Johannson)  Clippedwing Grasshopper

FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Metaleptea brevicornis male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Metaleptea brevicornis, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 9-XI-2013

Metaleptea brevicornis, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 9-XI-2013

Oedipodinae

Arphia granulata (Sassure)  Southern Yellowwinged Grasshopper

FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 19-V-2013

Arphia granulata male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 19-V-2013

FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Arphia granulata male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Arphia sulphurea (Fabricius)  Sulfurwinged Grasshopper

Arphia xanthoptera (Burmeister)  Autumn Yellowwinged Grasshopper

Chortophaga austrailor Rehn & Hebard  Southern Greenstriped Grasshopper

green form, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Chortophaga australior green form female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

brown form, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Chortophaga australior brown form male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

being eaten by a robberfly (Proctacanthus sp.), FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 2-IX-2013

Chortophaga australior being eaten by a robberfly (Proctacanthus sp.), FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 2-IX-2013

Dissosteira carolina (Linnaeus)  Carolina Grasshopper

Hippiscus ocelote (Saussure)  Wrinkled Grasshopper

FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 26-X-2013

Hippiscus ocelote male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 26-X-2013

Pardalophora phoenicoptera (Burmeister)  Orangewinged Grasshopper

Psinidia fenestralis (Serville)  Longhorn Bandwinged Grasshopper

FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Psinidia fenestralis male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Psinidia fenestralis female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Spharagemon bolli Scudder  Boll’s Grasshopper

Spharagemon crepitans (Saussure)  Crepitating Grasshopper

Spharagemon cristatum (Scudder)  Ridgeback Sand Grasshopper

Spharagemon cristatum, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

Spharagemon cristatum, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

Spharagemon cristatum, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Spharagemon cristatum, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Spharagemon marmorata picta (Scudder)  Marbled Grasshopper

male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Spharagemon marmorata picta male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Spharagemon marmorata picta female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 27-IV-2013

Trimerotropis maritima (Harris)  Seaside Grasshopper

Leptysminane

Leptysma marginicollis (Serville)  Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper

Stenacris vitreipennis (Marschall)  Glassywinged Toothpick Grasshopper

Cyrtacanthacridinae

Schistocerca alutacea Harris  Rusty Grasshopper

Schistocerca alutacea female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Schistocerca alutacea female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Schistocerca americana (Drury)  American Bird Grasshopper

FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 23-X-2013

Schistocerca americana male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 23-X-2013

Schistocera ceratiola Hubbell and Walker  Rosemary Grasshopper

Schistocerca ceratiola female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Schistocerca ceratiola female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 8-XI-2013

Schistocerca ceratiola male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

Schistocerca ceratiola male, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

Schistocerca ceratiola mating pair, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Schistocerca ceratiola mating pair, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 11-XI-2013

Schistocerca damnifica (Saussure)  Mischevous Grasshopper

FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 30-X-2013

Schistocerca damnifica male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 30-X-2013

Schistocerca obscura (Fabricius)  Obscure Bird Grasshopper

Schistocerca rubiginosa (Harris)  Rubiginosa Grasshopper

Melanoplinae

Aptenopedes aptera aptera Scudder  Wingless Florida Grasshopper

FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera male, FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 28-XI-2013

female, FL: Marion Co., W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera female, FL: Marion Co., W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera mating pair, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Aptenopedes aptera aptera mating pair, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Aptenopedes aptera coquinae Hebard  Wingless Florida Grasshopper

Aptenopedes aptera saturiba Hebard  Wingless Florida Grasshopper

Aptenopedes aptera simplex Hebard  Wingless Florida Grasshopper

Aptenopedes hubbelli Hebard  Hubbell’s Grasshopper

Aptenopedes nigropicta Hebard  Nigropicta Grasshopper

Aptenopedes robusta Hebard  Robust Grasshopper

Aptenopedes sphenariodes apalachee Hebard  Linearwinged Grasshopper

Aptenopedes sphenarioides clara Rehn  Linearwinged Grasshopper

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides Scudder  Linearwinged Grasshopper

male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides male, FL: Alachua Co.: Cross Creek: Seven Sisters, 13-X-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 14-XI-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 14-XI-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 12-XII-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides male, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 12-XII-2013

FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 5-X-2013

Aptenopedes sphenarioides sphenarioides female, FL: Levy Co.: near Bronson, 5-X-2013

Eotettix palustris Morse  Swamp Eastern Grasshopper

Eotettix pusillus Morse  Little Eastern Grasshopper

Eotettix signatus Scudder  Handsome Florida Grasshopper

Gymnoscirtetes morsei Hebard  Morse’s Wingless Grasshopper

Gymnoscirtetes pusillus Scudder  Little Wingless Grasshopper

Gymnoscirtetes pusillus mating pair, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Gymnoscirtetes pusillus mating pair, FL: Alachua Co.: Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, 9-XI-2013

Hesperotettix floridensis Morse  Florida Purplestriped Grasshopper

Hesprotettix gemmicula Hebard  Gemmicula Grasshopper

Hesperotettix osceola Hebard  Osceola’s Grasshopper

Hesperotettix viridis pratensis Scudder  Meadow Purplestriped Grasshopper

Melanoplus adelogyrus Hubbell  St. Johns Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus apalachicolae Hubbell  Apalachicola Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus bispinosus Scudder  Twospined Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus bonita Otte  Beautiful Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus carrabellae Otte  Carrabell’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus childsi Otte  Child’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus davisi Hebard  Davis’ Oak Grasshopper

Melanoplus decoratus Morse  Decorated Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus forcipatus Hubbell  Toothcercus Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus furcatus Scudder  Larger Forktailed Grasshopper

Melanoplus gurneyi Strohecker  Gurney’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus impudicus Scudder  Immodest Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus indicifer Hubbell  Spinecercus Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus keeleri keeleri (Thomas)  Keeler’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus kissimmee Otte  Kissimmee Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus nanciae Deyrup  Ocala Clawcercus Grasshopper

Melanoplus ordwayae Deyrup  Trail Ridge Scrub Grasshopper

Melanoplus peatus Otte  Peatus Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus peninsularis Hubbell  Peninsular Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus propinquus Scudder  Southern Redlegged Grasshopper

male, FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Melanoplus propinquus male, FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

male, FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

Melanoplus propinquus male, FL: Marion Co.: W of Ocala, 25-X-2013

ovipositing female, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Melanoplus propinquus ovipositing female, FL: Alachua Co.: Gainesville, UF campus at NATL, 31-X-2013

Melanoplus puer (Scudder)  Florida Least Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus punctulatus arboreus Scudder  Pinetree Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus punctulatus punctulatus (Scudder)  Pinetree Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus pygmaeus Davis  Pygmy Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus quercicola Hebard  Acorn Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus querneus Rehn and Hebard  Oak Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus rotundipennis (Scudder)  Roundwinged Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus sanguinipes vulturnus Gurney and Brooks  Migratory Grasshopper

Melanoplus scapularis Rehn and Hebard  Lesser Forktailed Grasshopper

Melanoplus scudderi scudderi (Uhler)  Scudder’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus sebringi Otte  Sebring’s Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus seminole Hubbell  Seminole Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus strumosus Morse  Strumosus Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus symmetricus Morse  Symmetrical Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus tepidus Morse  Southern Obovatewinged Grasshopper

Melanoplus tequestae Hubbell  Tequesta Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus withlacoocheensis Squitier and Deyrup  Withlacoochee Spurthroat Grasshopper

Melanoplus zento Otte  Zento Spurthroat Grasshopper

Paroxya atlantica Scudder  Atlantic Grasshopper

Paroxya clavuliger (Serville)  Olivegreen Swamp Grasshopper

Paroxya paroxyoides (Scudder)  Paroxyoides Swamp Grasshopper

Paroxya recta Scudder  Recta Swamp Grasshopper

Romaleidae

Romalea microptera (Beauvois)  Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

nymph, FL: Levy Co., ca. 8 mi SW Bronson, 19-V-2013

Romalea microptera nymph, FL: Levy Co., ca. 8 mi SW Bronson, 19-V-2013

FL: Marion Co.: Hwy. 316 at Oklawaha River, 15-IX-2013

Romalea microptera female, FL: Marion Co.: Hwy. 316 at Oklawaha River, 15-IX-2013

Not just two-faced; The many faces of Wagneriana tauricornis!

Yesterday while hiking in the woods of Levy County, Florida, I stumbled upon the coolest spider I have ever found! From a distance, it looked like bird poop, atop a stalk of Florida Paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus).

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 1.06.33 PM

As I got closer, it became apparent that the object was a spider, so being unfamiliar with it, I proceeded to take a few photos.  When I reviewed the photos on the display window, I could not believe the faces that jumped out at me!

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 6.39.04 PM

How many faces do you see on this spider?  Using some imagination, I saw 6 faces staring back at me, there in the forest.  [At home on my computer screen, I saw even more!]  So it seemed that I had found the perfect Halloween spider!

But there are even more faces to be seen on this spider.  Here is the head-on view, which reveals additional faces, including its real face!

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 1.37.30 PM

This is really pretty remarkable!  However, as if all these faces weren’t enough, the posterior view of this spider displays one of the most charming faces in all of nature! That’s right, a spider butt shaped like a heart, with lips puckered for a big kiss!

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 1.47.47 PM

So, it appears that Wagneriana tauricornis is not just for Halloween anymore, but perfect for Valentine’s Day too!