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What's Bugging You?

What's Bugging You?

Dr. Arthur V. Evans teams up with WCVE Public Radio producer Steve Clark for a weekly feature, “What’s Bugging You?,” which airs during NPR’s Morning Edition. The program takes its name from another of Evans’ books “What’s Bugging You – A Fond Look at the Animals We Love to Hate.”

Tune-in each Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. or at 5:44 p.m. on 88.9 WCVE, Richmond’s Public Radio station.

Visit Evans’ Blog or Facebook pages for more insight into the world of insects.

Blood Sucking Skeeters!

The infusion of moisture in late summer is a boon for mosquito populations. Clouds of whining female mosquitoes are drawing blood meals from birds, people, and pets. What to do? Blanket spraying of vegetation kills not only mosquitoes, but other insects, too, including predators, parasites, and pollinators. The most effective mosquito preventative is to destroy their breeding sites, which includes anything that holds 1/2 inch or more of water. Also avoid peak adult mosquito activity by not going out at dusk and dawn.

It’s Spider Time

Late summer and fall are when many species reach their zenith and spin conspicuous webs across wooded paths, window sills, and hedges. As predators, spiders are an important part of the ecosystem and help keep insect populations in check. Join producer Steve Clark and Dr. Art Evans to find out more about these amazing, yet often misunderstood animals.

Casey's June Beetle: Endangered Species

Casey’s June beetle, Dinacoma caseyi Blaisdell, is known from only two populations in the southern part of Palm Springs, California. Its remaining habitat of roughly 600 acres consists of approximately nine fragments and is rapidly declining. Adults emerge from the ground to mate in late March through June and reach their peak in mid to late May. The females have reduced wings and are flightless, while the males are fully-winged and capable of flight. Little is known of their life cycle or food plant preferences.

European Hornets

One of the largest wasps now found throughout Eastern North America, the European Hornet first arrived around 1840.

The hornets prefer to build their papery nest in a protected area such as under steps or inside tree holes. They will strip away bark from lilacs and other shrubs to use as building material, which they chew to make the paper nest.

The young of these insect predators are fed mostly a diet of pre-chewed flies and other insects, usually captured on the wing. Adult wasps prefer sap or nectar.

Yet Another Rare Beetle Found in Virginia

While sorting through some spring Malaise trap samples from the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve, Dr. Art Evans came across a single specimen of an unfamiliar beetle about five millimeters in length. After a bit of research, Evans determined the beetle to be Omethes marginatus LeConte in the family Omethidae.

The specimen represents a new species AND family record for Virginia. Omethes marginatus was previously known from Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; additional new state records include Arkansas and Indiana.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killers, Sphecius speciosus, are large and solitary wasps that are widespread east of the Rocky Mountains and are active from mid July to September. Males emerge first. They stake out and defend territories in anticipation of females that emerge about a week later. Both males and females drink nectar for their own sustenance. Female cicada killers hunt cicadas by sight, sometimes capturing them in flight, and deliver a paralyzing sting. The living cicada is stuffed down a burrow as provisions for the developing cicada killer larva.


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