Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Three Things: Bugs!

I saw a new type of bug today!

Fine, this may not excite you, but for an outdoorsy sort of person, seeing a new type of critter can be very exciting. Especially when you see it on the Port of Baltimore, which is a huge expanse of macadam crisscrossed with trucks and railroad tracks. Other than omnipresent seagulls and elusive wharf rats, there aren’t a lot of critters on the port of Baltimore.

Let me preface this by telling you that I’m an import to Baltimore. We moved here a little over a year ago, and I’m constantly surprised by the flora and fauna this far south. I’m originally from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, you see. We have wolf spiders and gypsy moths. We have white butterflies and fat, furry bumble bees.

We don’t have huge hard bugs with fluorescent orange antennae. Not that I’ve ever seen, at least.

But that’s exactly what I saw today: a weevil-like grey bug as long the size of my thumb, with leaf-shaped legs and highlighter-orange antennae.

By The Drop

Of course I had to stop and try to coax it onto my finger, to get a better look. What a surprise, then, when the slow, stately crawler burst into a buzzing fury of translucent black wings. it flew straight at my face before darting away across the blacktop.

It turns out that this little fellow is called Acanthocephala terminalis, or the black leaf-footed bug. Supposedly this magnificent specimen is present across the entire range of the United States, from Florida through New England… but I’ve only ever seen it here. It sucks the juices out of plants, and tends to keep to woodlands and meadows, so how the poor thing ended up in the port is a mystery.


To be sure, this isn’t the first strange new thing I’ve seen since I’ve moved to Baltimore. There have been plenty of fascinating finds in the last year or so. Keep your eyes open this summer, and see what new and exciting things you can discover too!

Written by: Michelle Greenwood (Parizadhe) of Greenwood Creations

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