Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wasp Mimics in the Florida Scrub

We are excited about the appearance of a mother bear and her four newborn cubs in our backyard this week. Most bear broods are 2-3 cubs, so we are lucky. A few years ago, there was a brood of five cubs in the area. The most amazing part of the story is that all five lived to adulthood. Perhaps this is the same mother.

Also making an appearance this week is Strangalia luteicornis. These longhorn beetles are quite common throughout the Eastern US. The easiest place to find them in the Florida scrub is to first find a winged sumac tree and give it a good shake.

Here are some other wasp mimics that have made appearances in our yard. They are all members of the day-flying wasp moths. The Oleander moth is very common in Florida. Anywhere you find Oleander growing, there will often be hundreds of black-furry orange caterpillars feeding on the poisonous leaves. Unfortunately, people often kill all of them to save their oleanders.

The wasp moths are beautiful, the equal to any butterfly.
Yellow-banded Wasp Moth (Syntomeida ipomoeae)

Oleander Moth or Polka-Dot Moth (Syntomeida epilais)

Scarlet-Bodied Wasp Moth (Cosmosoma myrodora)

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