Looking Beyond The Leps (Updated)

Do you know this creature, photo’d by Chip Krilowicz on July 16?

As of 7/20/12, I am updating this post, thanks to comments and photos from Sam Galick and Mike Crewe.

I first posted that:

Odonate expert (and regular contributor to our log), Chip Krilowicz reports on an intriguing find he made on a wall along the Maurice River in Cumberland County on July 16th. It’s neither a lep nor an ode…though it seems a little of both.

“Here is a bug that has a dragonfly body with butterfly antenna. Four-spotted owlfly, Ululodes quadripunctatus [seems] the best fit. Note odes is part of the Latin name. This is a southern species.”

For more on U. quadripunctatus, go to the Bug Guide link here (click under “Data” to see BG’s range map of submitted records for the species, which shows none for New Jersey):

Bug Guide images for four-spotted owlfly

That is some find, Chip! Congratulations!


Soon after Sam Galick sent along the photo and the note below:

Another four-spotted owlfly, photo’d by Sam Galick at his moth lights in Cape May, 7-5-12.

Sam also reported:

I’ve been doing a lot of mothing lately, and these owl flies come to my backlight regularly. Every night I get about five or six of them, so large that when I first came across them I thought I had attracted a dragon. These photos are from the 5th of this month, and I’m pretty sure I had these a couple of days before this. If anyone wants to see these hybrid-looking dragon/robber flies in their backyard I suggest using a backlight! Works every time for me.

Next, Mike Crewe sent me this very informative info and link to his blog (with more photos):

Owlflies (Ascalaphids) are related to the ant-lions, which are probably better-known to most folks for their larvae which construct pit-fall traps in sandy soil to catch ground-living insects. In New Jersey we have two species of owlfly in the genus Ululodes: U. quadripunctatus and U. macleayana (which we might call four-spotted owlfly and Macleay’s owlfly respectively). These two species can be told apart by the color of the pterostigma, the pale spot at the front edge and towards the outer tip of the forewing. In four-spotted it is white, in Macleay’s it is dark.

Owlfly larvae look similar to those of ant-lions, but they roam freely in the leaf litter and don’t build pit-fall traps. The most bizarre thing about Ululodes owlflies are the divided eyes – I have shown this in a recent Cape May Bird Observatory Blog at:

Cape May Bird Observatory blog about owlflies

Thanks to Sam and Mike for adding their experiences and expertise to the discussion!

All of the above will help the rest of us tune into these intriguing animals.

Keep watching, everyone. Who knows what creatures you might come upon?


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