The Experiment is on Hold

In a previous post I mentioned that I had been looking in the spittle of dogwood spittlebug nymphs for the larva of an insect called the spittlebug fly.  I further refined my search with some special tools:



I could clip off the flower, look at the little mass of spittle for any signs of insects, then wash the mass into the jar and see if anything moved.  Did I mention that dogwood flowers smell a lot like carrion?


When I started this at the beginning of June, I would find masses mostly on the stems, and not always near the flowers.  But by the 15th of June, when I did some serious looking, most spittle masses were directly underneath the flowers.


The wash water from two of five spittle masses had actively swimming insects in them, which turned out to be small rove beetles.  Do they live in the spittle mass, or were they accidental invaders?  If they live in the mass, is that an obligate arrangement, and what do they eat?

I quit for the evening, after being eaten alive by mosquitoes, intending to finish the search over the next few nights.


One or two days slipped away from me, and by the time I got back to the task I could not locate any dogwood spittlebug masses at all.  The literature says they have one generation per year, so I guess I would need to wait until next year.

The article I read about spittlebug flies mentioned that they are especially found in the spittlebug masses of alder spittlebugs, which are found mostly on alder and birch trees.  I have none of them in the neighborhood though.  I might have missed the season.

So my search is on hold for now.

About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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