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Insects and Spiders

Bugs, and Foxtail Farm has them. What would you expect, insects are everywhere. Below are some of the more interesting ones we have observed. For butterflies click here.

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Angular-winged Katydid

Microcentrum rhombifolium is a species in the family Tettigoniidae (katydids), in the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids). Other common names are the greater angle-wing katydid and broad-winged katydid. Microcentrum rhombifolium is found in North America. We saw a specimen at night around our front door light in August 2018.

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Bald-faced Hornet

Dolichovespula maculata are omnivorous, and are considered to be beneficial due to their predation of flies, caterpillars, and spiders. However, their aggressively defensive nature makes them a threat to humans who wander too close to a nest. They vigorously defend the nest, with workers stinging repeatedly, as is common among social bees and wasps. However, the baldfaced hornet has a unique defense in that it can squirt venom from the stinger into the eyes of vertebrate nest intruders. The venom causes immediate watering of the eyes and temporary blindness. We saw this insect feeding at the hummingbird feeders July 2018.

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Bumble Bee

Bombus bifarius is found across mountainous regions of western North America.

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California Bumble Bee

Bombus californicus, the California bumble bee, is a species of bumble bee in the family Apidae.


California Ebony Tarantula

Aphonopelma eutylenum. The Sierra Nevada foothills harbor thousands of California ebony tarantulas. The tarantulas feed on baby rattlesnakes, insects, lizards and scorpions and thrive in the mountainous foothills. Even though these spiders are large they are not dangerous. In mid-October the town of Coarsegold celebrates tarantulas with a festival.  Image by Peter Berg

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California Horntail

Urocerus californicus is a fleece-winged insect from the wood wasp family (Siricidae). We saw a specimen in our orchard July 2018.

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California Lady-Beetle

Coccinella californica is a ladybird beetle found in California commonly known as the California Lady Beetle.

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California Mantis

Stagmomantis californica. Mantises tend to hang around the hummingbird feeders. Interesting they are a threat to hummingbirds and the birds sense it and avoid them. We see the mantis near the hummingbird feeders starting late June or early July.

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California Prionus

Prionus californicus, commonly known as the California root borer, is a species of insect in the longhorn beetle family (Cerambycidae). It is native to the American west where it is often a pest of orchard and vine crops.

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Convergent Lady-Beetle

Hippodamia convergens, commonly known as the convergent lady beetle, is one of the most common lady beetles in North America and is found throughout the continent. Aphids form their main diet and they are used for the biological control of these pests.

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Darwin's Green Moth

Nemoria darwiniata, the Columbian emerald, is a species of emerald moth in the family Geometridae.

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Green Lynx Spider

Peucetia viridans is bright-green and usually found on green plants. It is the largest North American species in the family Oxyopidae. The green lynx spider very seldom bites humans, and when it does, its venomous bite, though painful, is not deadly but may cause surrounding (edema) swelling up to 7"-10" in diameter. The species is primarily of interest for its usefulness in agricultural pest management. The spiders have been observed to hunt several moth species and their larvae, including some of the most important crop pests. However, they also prey on beneficial insects, such as honey bees. We spotted a female specimen near the seasonal pond in August 2018.

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Honey Bee

Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee or European honey bee is the most common of the 7–12 species of honey bee worldwide. At Foxtail Farm we have three hives and harvest the honey annually.

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Jerusalem Cricket

Stenopelmatus fucus, Jerusalem crickets or potato bugs is a large flightless insect native to the western United States.

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Sierran Blue-winged Grasshopper

Circotettix undulatus,known generally as the undulant-winged grasshopper or great basin crackler, is a species of band-winged grasshopper; Image by Alice Abela

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Ten-lined June Beetle

Polyphylla decemlineata, also known as the watermelon beetle, is a scarab beetle, living in the western United States and Canada. The adults are attracted to light and feed on foliage and make a hissing sound when touched or otherwise disturbed, which can resemble the hissing of a bat. Image by Joyce Gross

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Twelve-Spotted Skimmer

Libellula pulchella is a common North American skimmer dragonfly. It is a large species, at 2.0 in long. Each wing has three brown spots. In adult males, additional white spots form between the brown ones and at the bases of the hindwings; it is sometimes called the ten-spot skimmer for the number of these white spots. We spotted a specimen around our raised bed garden in June 2018.

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Velvet Ant

Dasymutilla aureola, the genus Dasymutilla belongs to the Mutillidae family of wasps. The females of the genus are well known for their painful sting, which is where many gain their common name, Cow Killer. The female is wingless and often resemble large ants while the males still retain their wings.

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White-lined Sphinx

Hyles lineata, also known as the white-lined sphinx or hummingbird moth, is a moth of the family Sphingidae. They are sometimes referred to as the hummingbird moth because of their bird-like size (2-3 inch wingspan) and flight patterns. These hummingbird-like moths fly during the day. We saw a specimen collecting nectar from the lavender plants around the house in August 2018.

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Yellow & Black Mud Dauber Wasp

Sceliphron caementarium are solitary insects that build nests out of mud. After building a cell of the nest, the female wasp captures several spiders. The captured prey are stung and paralyzed before being placed in the nest (usually 6-15 per cell), and then a single egg is deposited on the prey within each cell. The wasp then seals the cell with a thick mud plug.[3][7] After finishing a series of cells, she leaves and does not return. The larva spins a cocoon and pupates. Eventually, the hatching larva will eat the prey and emerge from the nest. We saw a specimen alight on our Asian Pear in July 2018.

Dangerous Insects and Spiders

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Western Black-legged Tick

Ixodes pacificus is a principal carrier of Lyme Disease. If you are hiking on our property or anywhere in Sierra Nevada mountains including Yosemite and plan to walk through long grass (head off trail) it is best to take precautions and check yourself for this tick afterwards. Click here for more information.

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Western Black Widow

Latrodectus hesperus is a venomous spider species found in western regions of North America. While it is highly unlikely that you would encounter these spiders it is best to be cautious. At Foxtail Farm we have a monthly service to spray the perimeter of the house to prevent insects and spiders from getting inside. Click here for more information.