ארכיון יומן של ספטמבר 2019

ספטמבר 15, 2019

A Night of Pentatomid Success Blacklighting at the Texas City Prairie Preserve with some fellow iNaturalists

I joined iNaturalist in April of 2018 and have been keeping an eye on the stink bug section since. It's been fascinating to see all of this crowd-sourced data on stink bugs from all over the US in real time and there have been a couple of spots that have really caught my eye.

Over at the Texas City Prairie Preserve, on the southwest shoreline of Galveston Bay, there has been an effort by @scottbuckel and @atjelmeland to catalog the insect life that is showing up to the lights at night. The preserve is an important project by the Nature Conservancy of Texas to preserve a critically threatened habitat. The preserve's Nature Conservancy Listing notes that while coastal prairie habitats used to span over 9 million miles of coastline between TX and LA, less than 1% of that remains today. So, this preserve is dedicated to keeping that habitat protected for the interesting plants and wildlife that utilize those sorts of niches.

As part of that effort, they have been trying to record which species are found at the preserve. Part of that effort has centered on setting up lights at night and recording the insects that show up. Just looking at the stink bug diversity, I was really intrigued as to what was going on over there. They have recorded about 16 different stink bug species, including some that I found particularly interesting.

During July, they had three records of Andrallus spinidens, a predatory stink bug that has a few historical records from Texas, but it's not clear whether or not the species is established.

They've also had consistent observations of Chlorochroa saucia, a specialist of coastal marshes that typically is seen along the Atlantic coast. There was a 1978 record of the species from Galveston, but between the efforts made to catalog the species here at the TCPP and another observation from an area along the bay a bit north of the preserve, it seems clear that the species is established in the coastal marshes of this area as well.

Anyway, my wife and I took a little trip to New Orleans, so instead of flying back, we scheduled a flight out of Houston and drove the six hours out to the Galveston area. Scott and Aaron were incredibly gracious in allowing me to come out to check the lights at the preserve with them and I was not disappointed.

I got to the preserve around 7 and we immediately found a Green Stink Bug (Chinavia hilaris) that was still on the sheet from the last night of blacklighting. It stayed in the same spot almost the entire night. These guys are common throughout most of the US and a familiar sight at porch lights for a lot of folks.

Chinavia hilaris

Once it got dark, the insects slowly started showing up. Among the first to arrive (and one of the more prevalent Pentatomids of the night) were Euschistus servus, our common brown stink bug. This species can be difficult to differentiate from another common stink bug in the same genus, Euschistus tristigmus. You can tell the difference if you flip them over though. Again, this is a common species throughout the states, though it can be a challenge to nail down the ID.

Euschistus servus

Another species that showed up early on and stayed around for a good bit of the evening was Thyanta custator accerra. Like the two previous ones, this Pentatomid has a wide range and can be found throughout the country. These guys are highly variable though and can come in a variety of colors. You can see them from bright green to tan and nearly white. Some have humeral spines and some have fairly smooth shoulders. We had a couple show up that can show off some of the variety of the species.

Thyanta custator accerra

These species were all repeats for me (but still always fun to see) but I was pretty excited when Euschistus ictericus showed up a short time later. This one is a little bit easier to tell from the other members of its genus and has these impressive humeral spines and a ridge that rides across the pronotum between them. It can be found throughout most of the Eastern US and can occasionally make it out as far west as UT. They like damp habitats, so the marshes out here were a good environment for them.

Euschistus ictericus

As things stalled at the lights for a bit, I started checking some of the vegetation nearby and found another Euschistus species that was new to me. Euschistus obscurus can be fairly easy to tell from most of its congeners based on the light bar that runs across the pronotum where the insect almost looks "worn". They're a reasonably common sight in the SE US, especially around parts of TX, but I was happy to get to see one.

Euschistus obscurus

Next to show was Piezodorus guildinii, the Red-Banded Stink Bug. These guys can make it from the SE US into NM but are especially common in the West Indies and Central/South America. This one is of some economic importance as well, as it's a major pest of soybean in Brazil. Still a new one for me though!

Piezodorus guildinii

While I was looking at the first Red-Banded Stink Bug, one of the most aesthetically-pleasing (in my opinion) members of the family showed up. The Black Stink Bug (Proxys punctulatus) is found throughout the Eastern US, as well as in CA. This is one that I had seen once during my undergrad years in Missouri, but I was glad to see it a second time. They're reasonably common, but still always fun to see.

Proxys punctulatus

The first moment of real excitement came when I checked some of the plants near the lights again and noticed a small, dusty bug hanging out on the tip of one of the plants. This one was a member of the genus Amaurochrous, which are part of the subfamily Podopinae and are affectionately referred to as the "Turtle Bugs". They are found in marshy areas and are one of the stranger groups in the Pentatomidae. At times, they've even had their group elevated to family status- they differ from most other Pentatomids in that their scutellum is elongated to the point that you can't see their wing membranes, much like the Scutellerids.

Amaurochrous sp.

As the night went on most of the rest of the bugs were repeats, or the ever-present Oebalus pugnax, the Rice Stink Bug a small Pentatomid that is common throughout the Eastern US and present down into Brazil and the West Indies. They feed on grasses, and as the name suggests can cause issues in rice fields.

Oebalus pugnax

At this point, it was about 1:30, so I was getting tired. I had stuck it out for a while hoping to see Chlorochroa saucia, Chlorochroa senilis, or Euschistus crassus but it seemed like they weren't showing up. I decided to do one last walk through for the lights before calling it a night. When I got back to the sheet, I noticed a large, elongated bug hanging out and knew it had to be Chlorochroa senilis. This one is part of the subgenus Rhytidolomia, which are all fascinating bugs with specialized habitat requirements. Like saucia, senilis is a specialist of coastal marshes and just a super cool, bizarre stink bug.

Chlorochroa senilis

The excitement from that find gave me a little bit of an adrenaline push, so I decided to stick it out for another half-hour or so. I was rewarded when Chlorochroa saucia showed up to almost the exact same spot as its congener. It's interesting to compare the two- when you look at senilis it really almost seems as though someone has just taken saucia and tugged on it until it nearly doubled in length.

Chlorochroa saucia

At this point, I was quite happy with the night and was feeling pretty lucky, so I did one more walkthrough just in case Euschistus crassus had shown up somewhere. The species has been popping up pretty frequently at the preserve and around TX at the time, so I was kind of surprised that it hadn't shown up yet. Luckily, it chose to show up right around 2:30, so I was able to snap some shots of the species (maybe my favorite of the Euschistus) and call it a night.

Euschistus crassus

In all, I counted 12 different species of stink bug. 7 of these were new for me, so that's going to be a tough night to top. A huge, huge thanks to @atjelmeland and @scottbuckel for letting me come out and for showing my wife and me around the preserve the next day (also a huge thanks to my wife for letting me drive us six hours to go look at stink bugs). What a cool little area, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on the stink bug wildlife that pops up around there and encourage other iNaturalists to keep an eye on their Project here on iNaturalist. They have some really impressive species showing up here and are putting in a lot of hard work to maintain this important piece of habitat.

הועלה ב-ספטמבר 15, 2019 05:36 אחה"צ על ידי ameeds ameeds | 23 תצפיות | 3 תגובות | הוספת תגובה