Sunday, August 31, 2008

Swallowtail Caterpillar

Click on the images to zoom.

All the images in this blog are copyrighted. You are free to use these images for non-commercial purposes, such as desktop wallpapers, etc. For commercial use contact us at

Photographer: Neelima

Insect Scout: Neelima

: Miryalaguda, AP, India

Species Ide
ntifier(s): Debbie Hadley (

Points to appreciate:
  • This is a caterpillar of a Swallowtail butterfly. I will soon post images of the adult butterfly.
  • Notice the eye-like spots on the caterpillar. Some consider them to be predator deterrents, meaning they have these spots to appear menacing to birds and other natural predators.
  • They have, of course, defensive organs too. They have small y-shaped organs called osmeterium on the back of their heads. These organs give off a very foul odor whenever the caterpillars feel threatened. Normally these organs are hidden.
  • I thought this was a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar, but then I read Spicebush Swallowtails are only found in Eastern US. If you can identify this Indian species, do leave a note in the comment. We will include your name in the species identifier above.
Notes from Wikipedia:
  • Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies which form the family Papilionidae. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world.
  • There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica.
  • The adults are often tailed like the forked tail of some swallows, giving the insect its name.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lantern Fly

Click on the images to zoom.

All the images in this blog are copyrighted. You are free to use these images for non-commercial purposes, such as desktop wallpapers, etc. For commercial use contact us at

Photographer: deadmanswill, Nanda Gopal

Location: Annavaram, AP, India

Insect Scout: Nanda Gopal

Species Identifier(s): Debbie Hadley (

Points to appreciate:
  • See how its eyes are almost undifferentiated from its head
  • Single upturned antenna on the head, like a horn. (Click on the second image to zoom on the head)
Notes from Wikipedia:
  • The family Fulgoridae is a large group of hemipteran insects, especially abundant and diverse in the tropics, containing over 125 genera world-wide. They are mostly of moderate to large size, many with a superficial resemblance to Lepidoptera due to their brilliant and varied coloration. Various genera and species (especially the genera Fulgora and Pyrops) are sometimes referred to as lantern flies, though they do not emit light.
  • The head of some species is produced into a hollow process, resembling a snout, which is sometimes inflated and nearly as large as the body of the insect, sometimes elongated, narrow and apically upturned.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flea Beetle

Click on the images to view zoom.

All the images in this blog are copyrighted. You are free to use these images for non-commercial purposes, such as desktop wallpapers, etc. For commercial use contact us at

Photographer: deadmanswill

Insect Scout: deadmanswill

Location: Miryalaguda, AP, India

Species Identifier(s):

Points to appreciate:
  • Observe the hind leg closer (Click on the image to zoom). It is considerably larger than the other pairs.
  • Observe the ‘shell-like shiny helmet’ over its thorax. That’s the pair of forewings. If you look close there is a small straight line running along its center. The hind wings are folded beneath the forewings.
Notes from Wikipedia:
  • Flea beetles is a general name applied to the small, jumping beetles of the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae).
  • The adults are very small to moderately sized Chrysomelidae (i.e. among beetles in general they are on the smallish side). They are simiar to other leaf beetles, but characteristically have the hindleg femora greatly enlarged. These enlarged femora allow for the springing action of these insects when disturbed. (click on the image to observe the hind leg closer).
  • Adult flea beetles feed externally on plants, eating the surface of the leaves, stems and petals.
  • Flea beetles may be beneficial or may be pests, depending on the species. Many major agricultural crops are attacked by flea beetles. Other flea beetle species are beneficial, feeding on weeds and similar nuisance plants.

Closer shots of the Earwig Nymph

All the images in this blog are copyrighted. You are free to use these images for non-commercial purposes, such as desktop wallpapers, etc. For commercial use contact us at

Here are closer crops of the earwig nymph. Appreciate the complex mouth parts and the complex structure of the antennae.
Also if you look closely there is another much smaller insect beside this earwig. Can anyone identify that critter?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Earwig Nymph

Click on the images to see them in full size. All the images in this blog are copyrighted. You are free to use these images for non-commercial purposes, such as desktop wallpapers, etc. For commercial use contact us at

: deadmanswill

Insect Scout: Nanda Gopal

: Miryalaguda, AP, India

Species Identifier(s)
: Debbie Hadley (

Points to appreciate:
  • This is an immature nymph of an earwig.
  • Notice how complicated the mouthparts are for such a small insect. This one was not more than 2 mm.
  • Observe the fine structure of the antennae.
  • See the single strand of tail-like structure on its rear? There are actually two of them. One is not visible in this photograph. When the creature grows these become forceps like structures.
  • I shall soon post the adult of this creature. You can better appreciate the tail-like parts then.
  • If you guys observe closely, you can find an even smaller black creature near the head of the white one. Click on the image to see its full size. You can see the black one clearly then.
Notes from Wikipedia:
  • Earwig is the common name given to the insect order Dermaptera characterized by membranous wings folded underneath short leathery forewings. The abdomen extends well beyond the wings, and frequently, though not always, ends in a pair of forceps-like structures termed cerci.
  • The forceps is used for a variety of purposes. In some species, the forceps has also been observed in use for holding prey, and in copulation. The forceps tends to be more curved in males than in females.
  • Earwigs are quite common globally. Earwigs are generally nocturnal and can be seen patrolling household walls and ceilings. Earwigs are also drawn to damp conditions. Earwigs tend to gather in shady cracks or openings or anywhere that they can remain concealed in daylight hours.
  • Most earwigs are elongated, flattened, and are dark brown. Lengths are mostly in the quarter- to half-inch range (10–14 mm), with the St. Helena earwig reaching three inches (80 mm).
  • Flight capability in Dermaptera is varied, as there are species with and without wings. Most species of winged earwigs are capable of flight, yet earwigs rarely fly around.
  • This species feeds on other insects, plants, ripe fruit, and garbage. Earwigs can be considered in some ways a beneficial part of the garden, especially when they prey on other insects, but they can become a nuisance because of their habit of positioning themselves within leaves and feeding on soft plant tissues.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crane Fly

We have a posted correction to this post here. This is not a crane fly but a non-biting midge. One of our readers Matthew (see comments for this post) corrected us and experts on this forum confirmed it.

What is Taxonomy?

Taxonomy is the science of classification of living things. It uses hierarchy of progressively smaller groups, from kingdom to species, and organizes living things in a way that reflects their evolutionary links. Given below are the principal groups used in classification. In addition to these, taxonomists use a number of intermediate groups, such as suborders or superfamilies.

One of the overall categories of life, containing organisms that share fundamental features.

A major grouping within a kingdom; knows as a ‘division’ in the classification of plants and fungi.

A major part of a phylum.

A part of a class, consisting of one or more families.

A large collection of species that share a number of important physical features.

A narrower group containing a small number of species that share many features.

A collection of living things that interbreed in the wild, producing similar offspring.

Source: DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary

  • In the system of classification used by most modern biologists, living things are organized into five kingdoms.
  • The smallest kingdom, in terms of species so far indentified, is the Kingdom Monera, which contains bacteria – single-celled organisms that are the simplest forms of life.
  • The Kingdom Protista also contains single-celled organisms, together with some multicellular algae, but their ells are larger and more complex than those of monerans.
  • Most members of the Kingdom Fungi are multicellular, and live by absorbing organic matter from their surroundings.
  • All plants, Kingdom Plantae, are multicellular, and live by photosynthesis. This large kingdom contains some 400,000 known species.
  • All insects fall under Phylum Arthropoda of the Kingdom Animalia.

Welcome to Grasslords!

Welcome to Grasslords, wildlife in my garden! The first Indian blog exclusively on insects! Do you know every one of us lives very close to the wildlife, in fact amidst it? And yet, we are hardly aware of it. For us, wildlife means the beasts in jungles, thickets or large animals at the local zoo. But everyday we share our residences, offices, schools, shopping malls with a thousand other creatures of the wild. Yes, I am talking about the insects – true lords of the grass! They are so common and so small that we hardly consider them wildlife.

But when you pause to take a closer look at these marvels of nature, you will be astounded by the diversity, complexity and beauty of these GrassLords! Every creature is a product of millions of years of evolution and a true wonder. They come in various sizes and shapes. Some are so small that a square patch of grass in your backyard is an Amazon for them. All you have to do to witness this world is go to your garden or the nearest park and look closely. Or, better, you can simply watch them through our lens. Visit us everyday as we update shots of these critters. All of the insects in our insect blog are not rare creatures found in remote parts of the globe. They are the wild of our own! They grow in our very own gardens and backyards. They are the perfect Indian insect species!

(Note: Extreme care was taken to see that these creatures were not harmed in any way while shooting. We wanted to shoot them in their natural habitat.)

We have included points of interest in every post, so you can truly appreciate these creatures. But please remember, we are not experts and we know only as much as you do. So some notes may be amateurish. We are, of course, taking extensive help of the experts from various forums to identify and tell us more about these creatures. We have made a mention of these people in every post. You can contact them anytime if your interest is stirred.

Enjoy your stay with these beasts of the grasses!