Flower Longhorn Beetles spend their larval life boring into decaying as well as live trees, depending on the species. As adults they leave their wooden tunnels to find food (nectar and pollen), new trees to tunnel in, and to mate. I recently found several pairs of Flower Longhorn Beetles mating on Queen Anne’s Lace, and all of the males had a transparent hose-like appendage coming from the tip of their abdomen which they inserted into the females as they bred. There is actually a name for this appendage – an aedeagus – and through it sperm capsules are delivered to the female. After breeding, the males retract their aedeagi, so they are not visible. Other insects possess aedeagi in different shapes and sizes, but those of longhorn beetles are considered to be among the most impressive.
Many ladybug beetles (ladybeetles) mate in the spring, but some species do so in late summer and fall. Each species of ladybeetle has its own pheromones for attracting a mate. Mating can last up to two hours, with the male climbing up and holding onto the female’s outer wings, while intermittently vibrating rapidly (making photographing them somewhat challenging). Their eggs hatch in 4 to 10 days, and within two weeks the larvae have matured into adults. Most of these aphid-eating predators will spend the winter hibernating, becoming active in the spring, when aphids are available once again.
If you want to get an idea of the number and variety of wasps, bees, beetles and bugs that reside in your area, go to the nearest goldenrod patch sit for a spell – this member of the Aster family is a magnet for insects. You’ll find many foliage- eating bugs and beetles, leaf-mining larvae, nectar and pollen feeders, and flower and seed-eaters. In addition, many predatory spiders (jumping and crab, especially) and insects (ambush bugs, ladybug beetles, flower bugs etc.) have discovered that goldenrod is a goldmine for them, as well. Researchers have found nearly 250 species of insects feeding on one species of goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Pictured from left to right are a long-horned beetle (locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae – pollen eater), a fly (nectar feeder) and bee (nectar and pollen feeder).
Dogbane beetles , Chrysochus auratus, are suddenly here, and they are hard to miss. Look on the leaves of dogbane (also known as Indian hemp) for this iridescent blue-green beetle with a metallic copper and crimson shine to it. The young larvae reside underground, where they eat the roots of dogbane. When they mature into adult beetles, they climb up the plant to the leaves, which they then consume.
The long-beaked insects known as weevils are actually a type of beetle. Weevils are chewing insects and their mouth parts or mandibles are located at the very tip of their snout. They use this beak to drill through the shells of nuts, fruits, bark and other plant parts so that they can feed on the softer material within. Female weevils also insert their eggs deep into plant tissues using these same drill holes. Some weevils are considered pests of the plants (white pine, spruce, alfalfa and strawberries, among others) they eat and lay eggs in. The majority, however, are innocuous, and some even eat plants like dandelions, purple loosestrife and other plants generally considered to be weeds in the Northeast.