Category Archives: Diptera

Is the caterpillar alive?

That was the question a student had this morning.

The caterpillar was wiggling a bit, but didn’t look so good. Upon closer inspection, it appeared it had burst open, and something was actually… inside of it.

Without further ado, here is what happened next:

I have yet to identify the parasitoid, it appears to be a fly maggot of some sort. I will be back with an update if we put a name on it.

Yes, it had eaten all of the caterpillar’s insides.

No, the caterpillar is no longer alive.

[UPDATE] The maggot is in the family Tachinidae.

I’m afraid…

… to open my car door when I go to the Crossfit gym.

The field by the parking lot is swarming with deer flies (genus Chrysops, family Tabanidae). This morning when I pulled in, ten of these angry beasts landed on the windshield, determined to get to me.

Now, I can appreciate them as well as any other insect. They are beautiful, complex creatures with a vital role in the ecosystem. But there is something maddening about giant buzzing flies which pummel into you at full speed, bouncing off your forehead and crawling in your ears, which could bite you with their steak-knife-like mouthparts at any moment. Especially when there are dozens of them following you around.

Welcome to summer.


When you accidentally pull down the rain gutter while trying to set up your sheet for black lighting, you need to come up with a new plan.

I realized I have a clothes hanger thing I never use, so I set it up on my porch and draped the sheet over it, securing it with clothes pins. I then used my garden hook (formerly used to hang a bird feeder) to hang the black light in front of it.

And I got moths! No Acronicta yet, but I am hopeful.

A giant water bug flew in late last night, making quite a ruckus buzzing around the sheet and my screen door. I put him (or her?) in a critter keeper with water temporarily, I might keep it as a pet. They do great when fed feeder goldfish from the pet store.

I also got quite a few large craneflies. I caught a few, uhh, in the act. This will be a great addition to the book my friend and I are (half jokingly, half realistically) planning to write about insect mating positions.

Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.