Readers’ wildlife photographs

Today we’re featuring the insect photographs from reader Chris. His first email came without IDs, so I asked him for them, and he supplied the following:

I haven’t made much headway with the ID’s, I’m not very well versed in spider or grasshopper taxonomy (I’m a history major; I try.)  The jumping spider is of Genus Phidippus, maybe in what Bug Guide calls the johnsoni group, but the species I’m not too sure, maybe P. whitmani?  I sent a tweet to Catherine Scott, @Cataranea, who is pretty well known on that horrid site as the go-to spider woman but I’ve not heard back yet.  As for the spider’s lunch, I’m pretty sure it is in family Acrididae, aka short-horned grasshoppers, probably in subfamily Gomphocerinae, aka slant-faced grasshoppers, but I can’t really get much further than that.  As for the mating pair, also in family Acrididae, and maybe in subfamily Melanoplinae, the spur-throated grasshoppers, but that’s pure guesswork and comparing them to images on Bug Guide, since I didn’t catch them and run through a taxonomic key.  I know I should do a proper insect collection, pin, label, and ID them, but I’m a bit too sensitive to kill them.  Anyway, that’s all the additional info I can offer.  If C. Scott confirms or improves upon my tentative ID on the jumping spider, I’ll let you know.

Any readers with less tentative IDs are welcome to weigh in below.

What’s this one?


Phidippus whitmani?




And this?


An Obscure Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca obscura, on a beautiful but obnoxious mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin. They are huge for a grasshopper, at least for this area.  Males are 36-45 mm while females are 50-65 mm! (Raytown, Mo)



And a bizarre fungus from reader Randy Schenck:

Evidence of another very wet summer in the Midwest, as was last year.  In the still very green grass this mushroom pops up in September.  I know very little about types of mushrooms other than the ones we eat (morel) but from pictures it could be Calvatia craniformis [the “brain puffball”], although there are other possibilities.








  1. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I think the beetle is a silphid or carrion beetle; Silpha americana.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      I think that is right, but a search by that name in Bugguide came back as Necrophila americana, and it was explained that the name was revised.

      • Kurt Lewis Helf
        Posted September 7, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Mark!

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The easy one is that the metallic green beetle is the Dogbane beetle (Chrysochus auratus. The others will take more time. I will help pick away at them as time allows, ’cause it is fun.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that first one is the nun from The Blues Brothers

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Long ago I heard the axiom that “all white puffballs are edible” and that hasn’t failed me. This one looks like it fits. Saute in butter or treat like tofu and enjoy!

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 7, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the info on this large sample. I will probably stick with the wild morels that pop up in the spring.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 7, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I love mushrooms, a lot. But I love my liver more. I’ve heard of some unlucky dinner guests who needed a transplant. Best to be careful with the fungi.

  5. Anthony Paul
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Using “Common Spiders of North America” it looks like P. whitmani. Other possibles are P. cardinalis or P. apacheanus, but the details of the color pattern don’t match with either of those.

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