This has been a very dry spring in Texas, but the insect activity is picking up quickly. Here are some of the neat things now flying in the Austin area, specifically at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.
This is a snakefly (Agulla sp.); so named because of its cobra like head and appearance. A neat group of insects generally placed in their own order (Raphidioptera), but sometimes placed in the Neuroptera (lacewings, ant lions and owlflies). They are predators and found only in the west within the U.S. Austin, Texas is at the very eastern edge of their range. This is a female with a its long ovipositor that she uses to lay eggs in the crevices of bark and rotting wood.
This is a robber fly in the genus Efferia, most likely E. snowi. Like the snakefly above, this is a predator and a female with a stout ovipositor. Efferia species can be commonly seen perching on rocks and vegetation while waiting for potential prey items to pounce on.
This is a small long horn beetle (Typocerus sinuatus). These can be seen commonly on flowers at Wild Basin right now. They will readily fly from one flower to another looking for mates and taking in nectar.
- John and Kendra Abbott
- John is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin. Kendra is a Professor at St. Edwards University in Austin. John has focused on dragonflies and damselflies in his career. He has two books Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-central United States and The Damselflies of Texas. He is currently working on the Dragonflies of Texas. John and Kendra are also currently both working on revising the Peterson Field Guide to Insects of North America. We have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Latin America, Africa and other parts of the world where we enjoy taking photos of pretty much anything that will allow us to capture its image. We are lucky enough to be able to teach students about the amazing biodiversity we see and to travel and photograph together.