New Species on the Place

Posted: May 1st, 2009 under photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , ,

I was out photographing wildflowers yesterday, after returning from the trip, and saw something I thought at first was an unfamiliar butterfly or moth, orange with black-tipped wings.  It flew oddly–more mothlike than butterfly-like, but not quite that, either.   Once it landed, I was able to get a first shot, then–slowly sneaking in,  and using the zoom–closer ones.


That is no moth!   The saw-toothed antennae say “beetle of some kind”–but most beetles have hard elytra instead of membraneous forewings–these were real wings.    And what about that beak-like thing?

This morning, while loading the images into the computer, I vaguely remembered something about “soft-winged” beetles, and grabbed my Kaufman field guide to insects…it was net-winged beetles, and there was something very like “my” beetle on page 169, Lycus lecontei, beak and all.

Off I went to, and my beetle field guide (in the Peterson field guide series) –I’m still not sure of the species (beetles have way more species than is handy for the amateur naturalist)  but at least I know we have a net-winged beetle that’s quite pretty.  In an odd sort of way.   Those orange wings among white, blue, and yellow flowers, certainly.   The snout–not so much.



Wildlife doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful.

When I finally get a definitive ID on this fellow, I’ll add it here in an edit.

And the answer is (from Mike Quinn on the Tx-Ento list),  Lycus fernandezi, Fernandez’s Net-winged Beetle.   For other views of the critter, take a look here.


  • Comment by Doranna — May 1, 2009 @ 9:15 am


    That is a TOTALLY COOL beetle!

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 1, 2009 @ 9:28 am


    Isn’t it cute? If I can’t have a really cool moth new to me, a really cool beetle is next best. I’m thinking it’s Lycus arizonensis, but want someone with more expertise to confirm or correct that. And they suck nectar through that snout.

    (Ohdearno. The verse daemon wants to make a song of “Sucking nectar through the snout…in one end, the other out…”)

  • Comment by cdozo — May 1, 2009 @ 10:12 am


    Wow! That’s amazing.

    Well spotted and photographed.

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 1, 2009 @ 6:34 pm


    The coolest beetle I ever found was a beautiful harlequin flower beetle that managed to find its way to our backyard and promptly expired. Your reference site indicates that we’re kind of on the western edge of their territory.

    We also had a swarm of soldier beetles that were fun to try and identify – I supplied a picture to Texas A&M’s Youth page, when I discovered it didn’t have one.

    I’ve never seen a beetle like yours. Very cool!

    ~ Rosanne

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 1, 2009 @ 9:38 pm


    That soldier beetle in the picture is handsome. I’ll bet with smaller insects, there’s a lot that’s not known about the range. When I found the big online databases, and looked up our county, I was able to add quite a few things to the county list for lepidoptera and odonata, for instance, just because there haven’t been that many people out looking. I also found that a very common snake in our area isn’t listed for our county at all…but it’s here.

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 2, 2009 @ 9:17 am


    I’ve got a puzzle for you… I’ve been trying to identify these little guys that were crawling all over my mint. I’ve only seen them the one time. They look like they’re sucking the sap out of the mint buds. They’re kind of pretty, and I found beetles of a similar shape in the Chrysomelidae, but I’ve been way off before.

    I’m just wondering if you’ve seen them before. As I’m very sure you know, if you start clicking through beetle pages on the identification sites, you’re gonna be there awhile :o)

    ~ Rosanne

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 2, 2009 @ 9:41 am


    Wow–they’re kind of pretty, but probably not anything you want. I don’t know what they are. My best suggestion is to put the image up at and see what the community comes up with. You have to register, if you haven’t already, but it’s free and I’ve never gotten insect spam.

    To me they look more like immature bugs than beetles, but I could sure be wrong (and yes, I DO know about all those pages and pages and pages and pages of unhelpful beetle pictures!!)

    If you’re in Texas, another source of help might be the TX-Ento listserv or website–full of good entomologists.

    When you find out what they are, please tell me.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 2, 2009 @ 9:53 am


    Another thing–what kind of mint is that? It looks more like the umbels of a dill or carrot than mint…

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 2, 2009 @ 6:16 pm


    Rats. You’re right. Peppermint flowers are totally different (like this: ). Now I have to remember exactly where in the yard I took that picture.

    It might be the parsley we grow on the OTHER side of the patio. We don’t eat it – it’s for the eastern swallowtails. They love to lay their eggs on it. Yes, we’re growing herbs for the caterpillars…

    However, the full shot ( ) shows a patterned mint leaf in the background. Argggh.

    At any rate, I think the photo may be clear enough for folks on the links you recommended to help me identify them – regardless of what they’re munching on :o)

    ~ Rosanne

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 2, 2009 @ 8:37 pm


    Yeah, sure could be parsley. Which reminds me to get some dill or parsley out in our garden (not there yet) for the butterflies, too. Though we have something called cow parsley (it’s not parsley!!) in the 80 acres that the swallowtails (the black ones) do lay eggs on. I don’t know if it’s going to come up this year because the rains were so late.

    Some of our swallowtails (can’t at the moment think if it’s the giant swallowtails of the tigers) lay their eggs on citrus-family plants, and we have “prickly ash” and “hoptree” both. (The one is not an ash, and the other is not hops…)

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 2, 2009 @ 8:53 pm


    The first suggestion was that these are stink bug nymphs of some variety. I looked around, and the resemblance is very clear on the abdomen, but what’s with those vertical stripes running clear through the head? I don’t see anything like that on any reference sites.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 2, 2009 @ 9:10 pm


    I was kind of thinking that, because I’ve been fooled by one or another species of stink bug nymphs myself, thinking I had some unknown stink bug. But there are a lot of stink bugs out there in the world and I haven’t a clue…did you put them up on BugGuide? Eventually (the mills of the gods grind slowly…) there’s usually some enthusiast who comes up with the answer. (Not always, but usually.)

  • Comment by Rosanne — May 2, 2009 @ 10:28 pm


    Yep – that’s where the first suggestion came from. I see that some types of stink bug are useful predators. These don’t look to be in that category…

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 3, 2009 @ 5:05 pm


    I had the great joy (not) of emptying a rain gauge full of flower beetles this afternoon when I got home from church. On the good side, about a half inch of them were still alive, the ones underneath having filled up the water so the ones on top were simply crammed in above the dead zone. OTOH, I have no idea how much rain we *really* got (not much, from the soil moisture, but enough to freshen the newly planted marigolds between the tomato plants. These were a familiar species that I’ve photographed before–Euphoria kernii. I did look to see if any were like yours, and they weren’t.

    And I have no idea why they climbed into the rain gauge.

  • Comment by Claire Eamer — May 5, 2009 @ 4:18 pm


    What an elegant critter! It’s wearing the glitz version of formal wear, with a touch of black, beautifully symmetrical, just as a nod to conventional formal wear.

  • Comment by elizabeth — May 5, 2009 @ 4:27 pm


    Operatic, I’d say, wouldn’t you? You’re right, he or she is elegant. I’m less happy with yesterday’s (and today’s when I looked) weevil family, as they’re doing a number on the poor sunflowers. They could at least let them flower before damaging the leaf petioles to the point where the leaves die. (At least, I think that’s the weevils. And not the lesser of two weevils, either.)

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