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Backyard Weirdos: Tiny Strangers in May

Now that it is spring, it is the perfect time to keep an eye out for some of the strange creatures that can occupy our urban habitats. If you see something new that sends you to the ID books or Google, it is a fantastic day!

Check out this punk rock looking fly. I can tell it is a member of the large fruit fly family, but I don't know flies enough to identify the species. Without that, I'm not sure how the habitat in the yard contributes to this fly completing its life cycle. But, at the very least, we can admire its fluorescent green eyes and spiky hair (really "setae" on its head).

A close-up fly with spiky hairs on its head and green eyes.

This next beauty is a lacewing (Order Neuroptera, which literally means "webbed wing"). You may see these insects flying around your yard, but you may not have taken the time to stop and look at them closely. They are almost reptilian, with scaly bodies and wings and metallic eyes. They are also a valued inhabitant of our gardens because they are voracious predators of aphids.

A close-up photo of a lacewing.

This third backyard weirdo is a treehopper (Entylia carinata). These are herbivorous insects, that are known to eat native asters and goldenrods (among other plants). I found this one on the edge of a columbine leaf, adjacent to some zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis). These treehoppers belong to the group of organisms known as true bugs (Order Hemiptera) and have incredible diversity of form. If you think you see one, approach slowly and admire them. They have a tendency to be skittish and can jump out of view in a hurry.

A close up photo of a treehopper insect on a leaf.

What interesting weirdos are you seeing in the urban habitats right now? Keep an eye out and note their behavior. There is a good chance you are watching something that has not been well studied by science.

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