July 11, 2024

MBP - Eyed Click Beetle

The Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus), or Eyed Elater, is one of our most impressive and distinctive beetle species. The MBP community has documented it in all 23 counties and Baltimore City, but we need records for plenty of USGS quads in western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. That's likely just a coverage issue.

The species is named after the two large spots on the pronotum that resemble large eyes. These large "eye spots" likely deter predators. The larvae live in wood and are predators of other beetles and beetle larvae. The adults feed mainly on nectar.

Eyed Click Beetles are harmless. Aside from their eye spots, their main defense is the same as all click beetles - a novel approach to catapulting themselves out of danger. According to Wikipedia, "A spine on the prosternum can be snapped into a corresponding notch on the mesosternum, producing a violent 'click' that can bounce the beetle into the air. Clicking is mainly used to avoid predation, although it is also useful when the beetle is on its back and needs to right itself."

📸: (c) timboucher, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) - Montgomery Co., Maryland (6/10/2021).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Posted on July 11, 2024 03:33 AM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 03, 2024

Monterey Audubon - Redhead nested in Monterey this year

Exciting news - Redhead confirmed breeding in Monterey this year!

The Redhead (Aythya americana) is a distinctive diving duck that nests primarily in the "prairie pothole" region of the Great Plains. They visit much of the rest of the U.S. in migration and in winter. Their breeding range extends well into California, but they are now a rare but regular migrant and winter visitor here in Monterey County.

Don Roberson noted in "Monterey Birds" that the species was formerly more regular in the county and that the species may nest occasionally in the lower Salinas Valley. They have been known to linger into spring and summer locally, especially in the northwestern corner of the county. That was the case this year, where multiple individuals have been reported at Zmudowski SB and vicinity. I must admit, though, I was still quite surprised to see reports of a female with downy young in the area. It's always exciting to see breeding species successful on the edges of their ranges, especially after an absence.

Here's a recent eBird report from Steve Tucker:

Redhead range map from Cornell's All About Birds:

  • Bill
Posted on July 03, 2024 04:32 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

MBP - Support added for new and updated iNat annotations

iNaturalist recently added some new annotations related to plant phenology. You can now annotate vascular plants to indicate leaf buds, green leaves, colored leaves, and more. They also changed the names of some familiar tags for simplicity (e.g., Flowering > Flowers).

Read more here:

Maryland Biodiversity Project has added support for these changes. We archive and display these annotations from observations ingested from iNaturalist. iNat remains the best way to contribute data to MBP.

📸: (c) Jim Stasz - Atlantic Pigeonwings blooming in Dorchester Co., Maryland (8/18/2016).


Posted on July 03, 2024 03:56 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 02, 2024

Monterey Audubon - Indigo Buntings

There appear to be at least three Indigo Buntings at large at Palo Corona Regional Park, including this beautiful male photographed by Mark Chappell. The stunning Indigo Bunting is the widespread "eastern" relative of our more familiar Lazuli Bunting. Of course, "eastern" is relative, as the species' range extends far into the U.S. Southwest, including southeastern California.
Here in Monterey, Indigo Bunting is one of our most regular spring and fall vagrants. Spring visitors are often males, which may sing on territory and even make breeding attempts (including hybridization with Lazuli Bunting).

📸: (c) Mark Chappell - Palo Corona Regional Park, Monterey County, California (6/22)

Mark's eBird checklist with many great photos of two males:


Posted on July 02, 2024 02:44 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

MBP - Silvers-spotted Skipper

A couple weeks ago I got my "state" Silver-spotted Skipper!

"Whaaaat?" might be an expected response in Maryland, where this species is common and widespread throughout the state in the warmer months. It is found in a variety of habitats from fields and open woods to even residential yards, where it is showy and distinctive - especially for a skipper. It has a distinctive caterpillar as well.

But my "state" sighting (my first in the state) was in Monterey County, California! Although the species is found across much of the U.S., the subspecies can have different habitat preferences and favored host plants. Here in Monterey County, it is a very localized specialist of high-elevation pine forest! So fascinating to see familiar species behave differently in different regions, habitats, and seasons.

Chris Tenney and Jan Austin published a wonderful field guide, "Butterflies of Monterey County" (https://www.montereybutterflies.online/). In the notes for this species, they point out that some observers can identify the Silver-spotted Skipper by sound - "a dry, rattling noise made by its rapid wingbeats as it zips by."

They also share this fascinating behavior: "Larvae of this species also possess a novel trait: some larval predators are attracted to the aroma of fras (that's butterfly larva poop), but Silver-spotted Skipper larve, using an 'anal comb', can eject their frass as far as 38 body lengths from the larval leaf shelter."

📸: Bill Hubick - Monterey Co., California (6/16/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Posted on July 02, 2024 02:42 PM by billhubick billhubick | 1 comment | Leave a comment

July 01, 2024

MBP - New order for the project

Wow! Congratulations to Jim Moore for documenting a new ORDER for Maryland Biodiversity Project. The order is, of course, quite high taxonomically (remember: Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species). It's like documenting our first beetle (Order Coleoptera) or fly (order Diptera) for the project! This becomes even more impressive when one considers we're in year 12 of the project!

This tiny mite is an arachnid (Class Arachnida) and belongs to the order Oribatida. BugGuide lists several other common names for the order: Armored Mites, Beetle Mites, Moss Mites, and Seed Mites. It was determined to belong to the genus Lucoppia by Lisa Lumley and Heather Proctor via BugGuide.

This order is far from rare, just small and difficult to document and identify. Jim does fine work finding, documenting, and working to identify members of the "smaller majority". There are likely many examples of this order shown in photos of beetles on the MBP site! Here are some fascinating notes on the order Oribatida from BugGuide:

  • "ca. 1200 spp. in >300 genera of over 100 families in our area, ~16,500 described spp. in ~2,400 genera of ~250 families and ~50 superfamilies worldwide"
  • "one of the most numerically dominant arthropod groups in the organic horizons of most soils, where their densities can reach several hundred thousand individuals per square meter (Norton 1990) "...we estimate we still know only a quarter of the Canadian fauna at the species level..."
  • "Leaf litter -- can consume about 20% of its weight in leaf litter every day."
  • "Can have 50,000 to 500,000 mites per square meter of leaf litter."

📸: (c) Jim Moore, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) - Montgomery Co., Maryland (6/19/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:

BugGuide order page:


Posted on July 01, 2024 02:53 PM by billhubick billhubick | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 24, 2024

MBP - Ovenbird

The Ovenbird is a familiar breeding species in the woodlands of Maryland. They are most easily detected by their distinctive "teacher, teacher, teacher" song. The species has a large breeding range in the eastern U.S. and Canada, preferring woodlands with a most closed forest canopy and deep leaf litter. They winter in southern Florida, the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Central America, and parts of northern South America. On the wintering grounds they will use more marginal forest habitats.

The Ovenbird nests on the ground and builds a distinctive namesake nest. Here are some cool facts from Cornell's "All About Birds":

"On its breeding ground, the Ovenbird divides up the forest environment with the other warblers of the forest floor. The Ovenbird uses the uplands and moderately sloped areas, the Worm-eating Warbler uses the steep slopes, and the Louisiana Waterthrush and the Kentucky Warbler use the low-lying areas."

"The Ovenbird gets its name from its covered nest. The dome and side entrance make it resemble a Dutch oven."

"The Ovenbird chants 4 to 6 of its song's tea-cher phrases per second. Each tea-cher is made up of 3 to 5 separate notes. The number of notes in each part of the phrase and how they're sung are highly variable from individual to individual. Our ears have trouble distinguishing all of the notes, but Ovenbirds recognize each other's songs as unique calling cards."

"Neighboring male Ovenbirds sing together. One male starts singing, and the second will join in immediately after. They pause, and then sing one after the other again, for up to 40 songs. The second joins in so quickly that they may sound from a distance as if only one bird is singing. Ovenbirds rarely overlap the song of their neighbors."

Wow. Even among our familiar species, there is more complexity and subtle beauty to appreciate anywhere we spend the time focusing on it.

📸: (c) Mark Johnson - Frederick Co., Maryland (6/18/2016).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Posted on June 24, 2024 02:51 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 27, 2024

MBP - Big-eyed Toad Bug

The well-named Big-eyed Toad Bug (Gelastocoris oculatus) is found throughout much of the U.S. and Canada on the muddy or sandy edges of ponds and streams. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, it is the only member of its family (Gelastocoridae). It is amphibious, capable of swift underwater motion and leaping many times its body length when on land. Its bulging eyes, bumpy pronotum and elytra, and specific habitat make for a pretty easy ID.

📸: (c) Benjamin Burgunder, some rights reserved (CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) - Prince George's Co., Maryland (5/11/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Posted on May 27, 2024 02:12 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2024

MBP - Virginia Opossum with young

Wayne Longbottom documented this momma Virginia Opossum carrying her growing babies on her back in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland yesterday. America's only marsupial starts with tiny honeybee-sized babies in her pouch, which move out and into piggyback / possum-back mode as they mature. These cuties should be between 2 1/2 to 4 months old. Not only is Virginia Opossum the only marsupial in the U.S. and Canada, it's the the marsupial with the northernmost range in the world.

📸: (c) Wayne Longbottom - Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (5/20/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:


Posted on May 21, 2024 01:24 PM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 09, 2024

Monterey Audubon - Western Tanagers

Western Tanagers were migrating along the coast this morning and likely throughout Monterey County. This individual was one of several in a mixed flock dominated by Hooded Orioles at El Carmelo Cemetery.

Western Tanager is a fairly common migrant in the county, occasionally in large and conspicuous pulses, and with a long spring migration window continuing well into June. In Monterey County, the species nests at elevation in the Santa Lucia range and on Fremont Peak (Roberson, 2002).


Posted on May 09, 2024 03:06 AM by billhubick billhubick | 0 comments | Leave a comment