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Anita’s Blog – Some Count; Some Don’t

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

The first six days of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Pollinator BioBlitz have been thrilling.


I’ve set up the moth sheet and black lights and have seen an amazing amount of activity.

It’s like the natural world wants to stand up and be counted. That said, cool temps swept in, some rain has fallen – and we’re truly grateful – it’s just that there really aren’t a lot of bugs to be found. But I’m ever hopeful.


Some of the awesome things I’ve managed to capture on camera and upload to iNaturalist.org are listed here because some are fun, some interesting and some are of major note.


On the first day, the Friday, I checked my moth sheet at 4 a.m. and my first entry was a nice, big Hairy Panther Ant, Neoponera villosa. I like these ants. They kinda strut along, minding their own business.


Yes, pollinator. Hairy Panther Ant Neoponera villosa. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Harry Panther Ants are about an inch long. I’m always reminded of an ant presentation in my initial Texas Master Naturalist training: the professor said, “All ants bite, the bigger the ant, the more powerful the bite.”


The moth sheet was full that first morning. I photographed about 85 moth sheet visitors, plus a couple of spiders in honor of October Spider Month and a weird gray caterpillar on the Caesalpinia tree that I could not find after the sun came up.


The Saturday morning, before sunrise, at 6:54 a.m., I photographed a Green Broomweed Looper Moth. I didn’t know how special that was until later when I researched it.


Yes, pollinator. Green Broomweed Looper Moth Fernaldella fimetaria. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Just seconds after that, I was squatted down – not a position from which to easily recover. A sawed-off B-52 bomber screamed in upside down under my ankles and kept up a constant buzzing and gyrating motion until I managed to right myself and find something with which to right him as well.


Coprophanaeus plutoa, upside down. Not a pollinator. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)


Good looking beetle, but not a pollinator. Coprophanaeus plutoa. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Initially, I thought it was a Texas Black Phanaeus, Phanaeus texensis, and an identifier disagreed and identified it as Coprophanaeus plutoa, a member of Dung Beetles, Subfamily Scarabaeinae, and anotated my observation with a "GREAT find!" That's always thrilling.


After daylight, I went in search of something I’d discovered two years ago – and I found them them again – finally! Some cool looking beetles on the Texas wild olive tree, Cordia boissieri. I spent a long time searching for them, standing in the ankle-sticking scrub grass on a windy day. Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle, Physonota alutacea. I briefly mentioned the species in a McAllen Monitor story about beetles in 2021, which can be found at this link:


Yes, a pollinator. Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle, Physonota alutacea. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)


Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle, Physonota alutacea. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Larvae, Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle, Physonota alutacea. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

See how much fun they are?


I looked for the beetles last year without success. I found a leaf with a couple dozen larvae, identified via iNaturalist.org.


Larvae, Wild Olive Tortoise Beetle, Physonota alutacea. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

The next day, those weren’t to be found, perhaps victims of a bird or lizard meal. They really are something to look at. Destructive to the Olive tree leaves, but leaves come back. It’s easy enough to pick the beetles off the leaves and destroy them because they don’t really hook on like some bugs and critters – I accidently knocked one off its leaf and felt bad. However, being beetles, they do have wings. I hope it found its way back up to the tree.

And really, why destroy them when they might feed a bird or lizard.


More fun finds:

Yes, pollinator. "Critically imperiled" Globally. Syssphinx blanchardi. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Carolina Metallic Tiger Beetle, Tetracha carolina. It doesn't count as a pollinator. I hope it comes back so I can get a better photo. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Some flies and lacewings count as pollinators, but not this Gallinipper, Psorophora ciliata, a huge slow-moving mosquito. I liked the name. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

Today's fun find was the beautiful Texas Indigo that posed and allowed me to get within three feet to take the photo with my phone camera.



Not a pollinator. Texas Indigo Snake, Drymarchon melanurus ssp. erebennus. (Photo by Anita Westervelt)

There's still time to participate: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Pollinator BioBlitz link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXPWD/bulletins/370fcd9


Don't forget the “Daily Challenges.” Check the list here:

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