July 30, 2008

Antlions: It's the Pits

Bob Dodds, Lee County Extension Education Director sent in a great photo of one our least-seen, common insects in Iowa: the antlion. Antlions are devious, cold-blooded killers. They make small, conical pits in loose sand in dry, sheltered locations (photo below). Unsuspecting ants that stumble into the pit slide to the bottom and are quickly sucked dry of all body fluids by the larva hiding just under the surface at the bottom of the pit.

Spotted Grapevine Beetles Are Active Now

As mentioned in the Clinic Update now is the time to find some of Iowa's largest insects. See the photo below for one example sent by Dennis Molitor, Carroll County Extension Education Director. The spotted grapevine beetle is a large member of the Junebug family. It resembles a light tan Junebug. It is 1 inch in length and has 6 small black dots on the wing covers. The adults feed on grape foliage but are not usually a significant pest. The larvae are huge white grubs that live in well-rotted stumps and logs. Adult beetles found on grapevines need only be handpicked and discarded.

What is a "Locust?"

It's the second half of summer and the cicadas are a-buzzing in the trees in the late afternoon. When I pointed this out to the neighbor, he said, "Oh. You mean the locusts?" "Well, yes and no." I replied. It's complicated.