An array of 16 boxes that highlight the vast diversity of insects that live in the Commonwealth. Natural history notes are listed for 100 species.

Species highlighted with natural history notes. The numbers correspond to labels affixed to specimens in the display.

  1. Common green darner, Anax junius (Drury, 1773) [Odonata] — One of the largest dragonflies in North America, this species is usually the first to migrate north after winter.
  2. Peppered moth, Biston betularia (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — In Europe, the Industrial Revolution led to a rise in the black form of this species, which could hide better on soot-covered trees.
  3. Eastern dobsonfly, Corydalus cornutus Linnaeus, 1758 [Megaloptera] — Its larvae, which are called hellgramites, live under stones in streams and prey upon other aquatic invertebrates.
  4. Ebony jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata (Beauvois, 1805) [Odonata] — This colorful damselfly can be found near woodland streams where they prey on other flying insects.
  5. Ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea (Fitch, 1856) [Lepidoptera] — This tropical moth has expanded north by adapting to feed on the invasive tree-of-heaven.
  6. Giant eastern crane fly, Pedicia albivitta Walker, 1848 [Diptera] — Although crane flies are often thought to eat mosquitoes and other pests, the adults largely do not feed.
  7. Wood-boring crane fly, Ctenophora apicata Osten Sacken, 1864 [Diptera] — The adults of this fly mimic wasps. Its larvae live in decaying wood.
  8. Grass fly, Thaumatomyia glabra (Meigen, 1830) [Diptera] — The larvae are predators of aphids that feed on the roots of plants.
  9. Earwigfly, Merope tuber Newman, 1838 [Mecoptera] — Found throughout eastern North America but is rarely collected. The larvae are undescribed and very little is known of their biology.
  10. Golden-eyed lacewing, Chrysopa oculata Say, 1839 [Neuroptera] — Green lacewings eat soft-bodied arthropods, including many different pest species.
  11. Tomentose burying beetle, Nicrophorus tomentosus Weber, 1801 [Coleoptera] — These beetles lay their eggs on carrion, and they mimic bumble bees when they fly.
  12. Deer ked, Lipoptena cervi (Linnaeus, 1758) [Diptera] — Keds shelter under fur and suck blood from their host, similar to other familiar parasites like ticks and fleas.
  13. Tiger bee fly, Xenox tigrinus (De Geer, 1776) [Diptera] — This fly can be found around dry wood, where it searches for carpenter bee nests. Its larvae prey on carpenter bees (see 87).
  14. Hangingfly, Bittacus sp. [Mecoptera] — Hangingflies are not flies, but are more closely related to fleas. They use their hind legs to capture other insects as prey.
  15. Phantom crane fly, Bittacomorpha clavipes (Fabricius, 1781) [Diptera] — The tips of this fly's legs are expanded and filled with air. They catch the wind, allowing these insects to float through the air as they fly.
  16. Horse fly, Tabanus calens Linnaeus, 1758 [Diptera] — Only female horse flies bite vertebrates. Males visit flowers, while larvae live in damp substrates.
  17. Snail-killing fly, Dictya [Diptera] — As its common name suggests, larvae of this species feed on snails and slugs.
  18. Downlooker fly, Rhagio mystaceus (Macquart, 1840) [Diptera] — This species is an active predator that can be found perching on tree trunks with its head towards the ground.
  19. Bee-like robber fly, Laphria grossa (Fabricius, 1775) [Diptera] — Adults and larvae both develop as predators. Adults often mimic bumble bees and will prey on them.
  20. Northern walking stick, Diapheromera femorata (Say, 1824) [Phasmatodea] — This walking stick feeds on common trees in Pennsylvania, especially black cherry and oaks.
  21. Picture-winged fly, Idana marginata (Say, 1830) [Diptera] — This colorful fly develops as larvae in compost. Adults can be found feeding at weeping tree wounds.
  22. Two-horned powderpost beetle, Lichenophanes bicornis (Weber, 1801) [Coleoptera] — Found under bark of dead trees or associated with bracket fungi. A related species can bore into lead.
  23. Fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus Burmeister, 1838 [Orthoptera] — Males fight each other for mates and for territory. Females are more attracted to the calls of older males.
  24. Squash vine borer, Melittia cucurbitae (Harris, 1828) [Lepidoptera] — Larvae bore into the vines of squashes and gourds, which causes them to wilt.
  25. Black fly, Simulium sp. [Diptera] — Fifty-three black fly species occur in Pennsylvania, though most do not feed on human blood.
  26. Monarch, Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — These insects make massive, multi-generational migrations, flying thousands of miles to Mexico, where they overwinter.
  27. European earwig, Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, 1758 [Dermaptera] — These insects don't actually burrow inside ears. Their flattened body is suited for cracks and crevices, their preferred habitat.
  28. Acorn weevil, Curculio glandium Marsham, 1802 [Coleoptera] — This weevil has a long face with mandibles on the end, which it uses to drill holes into acorns.
  29. Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus Linnaeus, 1758 [Lepidoptera] — Common in many habitats across the eastern U.S. Caterpillars feed on many trees, including black cherry and tulip trees.
  30. Thick-headed fly, Physocephala sagittaria (Say, 1823) [Diptera] — Females attack bees and wasps and insert an egg into their abdomen. Larvae develop inside their host, eventually killing them.
  31. Northern mole cricket, Neocurtilla hexadactyla (Perty, 1832) [Orthoptera] — Mole crickets live underground, and feed on roots. These insects are uncommon in Pennsylvania.
  32. Eastern Hercules beetle, Dynastes tityus (Linnaeus, 1763) [Coleoptera] — These beetles are native to eastern North America. Males use their large horns to battle each other for females.
  33. Eastern eyed click beetle, Alaus oculatus (Linnaeus, 1758) [Coleoptera] — The false eyes on this beetle are thought to scare and deter potential predators.
  34. Spiketail, Cordulegaster sp. [Odonata] — This specimen is the exuviae, or cast larval skin, of a spiketail dragonfly. The larvae are predators in streams.
  35. Parasitic fly, Archytas apicifer (Walker, 1849) [Diptera] — The larvae of this fly live as parasites inside certain caterpillars, including corn earworm and tent caterpillars.
  36. Patent-leather beetle, Odontotaenius disjunctus (Illiger, 1800) [Coleoptera] — These beetles live in subsocial colonies inside rotting logs. They communicate by squeaking (stridulation).
  37. Say's mantidfly, Dicromantispa sayi (Banks, 1897) [Neuroptera] — Like many other related mantidflies, the larvae of this species develop inside spider egg sacs.
  38. Brown lacewing, Hemerobius sp. [Neuroptera] — Many brown lacewings emerge during the spring and fall, but a few are important predators in crops during the summer.
  39. Antlion, Myrmeleontidae [Neuroptera] — The larvae of many antlions make pitfall traps in the ground where they lurk and wait for prey to fall in.
  40. Tooth-necked longhorn beetle, Prionus pocularis Dalman, 1817 [Coleoptera] — This large beetle feeds on the wood of fallen trees and is attracted to lights.
  41. Handsome trig, Phyllopalpus pulchellus Uhler, 1864 [Orthoptera] — This handsome little insect's antennae and palps are constantly in motion, 'tasting' its environment.
  42. Clouded sulfur, Colias philodice Godart, 1819 [Lepidoptera] — This widespread butterfly lays its eggs on legumes, including clover, locust, and vetch.
  43. Drone fly, Eristalis tenax (Linnaeus 1758) [Diptera] — Adults appear to mimic honey bees. Larvae, which often live in stagnant water, are called rat-tailed maggots.
  44. Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman, 1841 [Coleoptera] — This species was accidentally introduced to the U.S. in the early 1900s. It feeds on over 350 kinds of plants.
  45. Locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae Forster, 1771 [Coleoptera] — The larvae of this species feed on black locust trees, boring into the trunks and overwintering there.
  46. Katydid, Scudderia sp. [Orthoptera] — The night time summer chorusing of katydids is produced by rubbing their fore wings against each other.
  47. Yellow-footed March fly, Bibio xanthopus Wiedemann, 1828 [Diptera] — larvae live in leaf litter and soil, feeding on decaying vegetation. Adults are often found swarming in large aggregations.
  48. Yellow dung fly, Scathophaga stercoraria (Linnaeus, 1758) [Diptera] — True to its name, this yellow fly is often found on dung patties where they aggregate and reproduce.
  49. Twice-stabbed lady beetle, Chilocorus stigma (Say, 1835) [Coleoptera] — This beetle is a voracious predator of many soft-bodied insects we consider to be pests, such as scale insects and aphids.
  50. Northern blow fly, Protophormia terraenovae (Robineau-Desvoidy, 1830) [Diptera] — Adults lay eggs on carrion. Forensic investigators can use the larval development to estimate time of death.
  51. Hummingbird clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe (Fabricius, 1775) [Lepidoptera] — These moths hover over flowers to sip nectar, and are large enough that they are often mistaken for hummingbirds.
  52. Larder beetle, Dermestes lardarius Linnaeus, 1758 [Coleoptera] — These beetles feed on animal products, like dried meat, cheese, and hides, and can be pests of homes and businesses.
  53. Sawfly, Tenthredo sp. [Hymenoptera] — The caterpillar-like larvae feed on many types of plants, while adults live as predators of other insects.
  54. Orange sulfur, Colias eurytheme Boisduval, 1852 [Lepidoptera] — Native to western North America, they began moving east in the 1800s when forests were logged for fields.
  55. Virgin tiger moth, Grammia virgo (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — Tiger moths produce ultrasonic clicks to deter bat predation.
  56. Cicada killer, Sphecius speciosus (Drury, 1773) [Hymenoptera] — Females paralyze cicadas with their sting and place them in tunnels, where their larvae feed on the living but immobile cicada.
  57. Toe biter, Lethocerus americanus (Leidy, 1847) [Hemiptera] — This large bug survives by eating other insects and small vertebrates. It can deliver a painful bite if mishandled!
  58. Clown beetle, Hololepta lucida LeConte, 1845 [Coleoptera] — Attracted to slime flux (a plant disease) of certain trees, this beetle eats other insects it finds under bark.
  59. Brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål, 1855) [Hemiptera] — This stink bug is native to eastern Asia. It was recently introduced in Pennsylvania and has since become a pest.
  60. Red flat bark beetle, Cucujus clavipes Fabricius, 1777 [Coleoptera] — This beetle lives under bark, where it preys on other bark-dwelling insects.
  61. Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White, 1845) [Hemiptera] — Native to eastern Asia, this planthopper was first discovered in the U.S. in 2014 and remains a major threat to agriculture.
  62. Potter wasp, Eumenes fraternus Say, 1824 [Hymenoptera] — Females build small pots out of mud that serve as nurseries for their eggs. Larvae feed on the paralyzed caterpillars within.
  63. Backswimmer, Notonecta sp. [Hemiptera] — These bugs live in still freshwater. Like their common name suggests, they typically swim upside-down.
  64. Luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — The long tails on the hind wings of these moths have been shown to reduce fatal attacks by bats.
  65. Cecropia moth, Hyalophora cecropia (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — This is North America's largest native moth. Adults do not feed.
  66. Eight-spotted forester, Alypia octomaculata (Fabricius, 1775) [Lepidoptera] — Caterpillars of this moth eat the leaves of grapes and Virginia creeper, and adults are day-fliers that feed on nectar.
  67. Small white, Pieris rapae (Linnaeus, 1758) [Lepidoptera] — These butterflies may look drab, but they have colorful wings that are outside of the UV spectrum that humans can see.
  68. Northern paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus (Fabricius, 1793) [Hymenoptera] — This wasp feeds on various vegetable pests and can help reduce the need for insecticides in your garden.
  69. Cuckoo wasp, Hedychrum sp. [Hymenoptera] — Eggs are laid in the nests of other wasps. The stinger of females is soft, so they can be handled without being stung.
  70. Woolly catkin gall wasp, Callirhytis quercusoperator (Osten Sacken, 1862) [Hymenoptera] — This tiny wasp makes woolly galls on oak catkins and pip galls on acorns.
  71. Rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda (Fabricius, 1793) [Lepidoptera] — Larvae of this species feed on maple trees. Adults, on the other hand, do not eat.
  72. Leaf-footed bug, Acanthocephala terminalis Dallas, 1852 [Hemiptera] — These true bugs have a leaf-like structure on their hind legs, which gives them their common name.
  73. Fifteen-spotted lady beetle, Anatis labiculata (Say, 1824) [Coleoptera] — These beetles feed on aphids, mainly in trees. They darken with age, so spots may not be visible on older individuals.
  74. Periodical cicada, Magicicada sp. [Hemiptera] — Broods spend more than a decade in the earth as nymphs. They emerge as adults, in synchrony, after 13 or 17 years underground.
  75. Bicolored striped sweat bee, Agapostemon virescens (Fabricius, 1775) [Hymenoptera] — Like many other sweat bees, they are attracted to the salt in human sweat and will feed on it to supplement their nutrition.
  76. Reddish brown stag beetle, Lucanus capreolus (Linnaeus 1763) [Coleoptera] — Males use their oversized mandibles to fight rivals for the opportunity to mate with a female.
  77. Crown-of-thorns wasp, Megischus bicolor (Westwood, 1841) [Hymenoptera] — A rare species, the larvae of this wasp survive by feeding on the larvae of wood-boring insects, like beetles and wood wasps.
  78. Water strider, Limnoporus sp. [Hemiptera] — Living on the surface of water, they find prey by listening for vibrations of fallen insects that can't swim.
  79. Blue-winged wasp, Scolia dubia Say, 1837 [Hymenoptera] — The larvae of this wasp prey on scarab grubs, including those of June beetles and Japanese beetles.
  80. White admiral, Limenitis arthemis arthemis (Drury, 1773) [Lepidoptera] — Larvae mimic bird droppings. Another regional subspecies occurs, the red-spotted purple, and the two can hybridize.
  81. Ichneumon wasp, Megarhyssa sp. [Hymenoptera] — Long ovipositors make it easy for females to lay eggs deep inside wood, either near or on pigeon horntail larvae (see 88).
  82. European hornet, Vespa crabro Linnaeus, 1758 [Hymenoptera] — This hornet was introduced by European settlers in the 1800s. They will sometimes come to porch lights at night.
  83. Long-necked seed bug, Myodocha serripes Olivier, 1811 [Hemiptera] — These insects prefer to feed on strawberry seeds but rarely cause enough damage to warrant treatment.
  84. Rusty patched bumble bee, Bombus affinis Cresson, 1863 [Hymenoptera] — This once-common bumble bee is critically endangered due to pathogen spillover from other species, pesticide use, and habitat loss.
  85. Wood cockroach, Parcoblatta sp. [Dictyoptera] — A native species found in wood piles. Females encase their eggs in a shell called an ootheca.
  86. Sawyer beetle, Monochamus sp. [Coleoptera] — Insects frequently acquire phoretic mites (i.e., hitchhikers), like those seen on this sawyer beetle, behind its head.
  87. Eastern carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica (Linnaeus, 1771) [Hymenoptera] — These solitary bees are called carpenter bees because they excavate holes in wood to lay eggs and provision with pollen.
  88. Pigeon horntail, Tremex columba (Linnaeus, 1763) [Hymenoptera] — The drill-like structure on the tip of the abdomen bores into tree trunks, where females deposit eggs and a fungus inoculum.
  89. Common thread-waisted wasp, Ammophila procera Dahlbom, 1843 [Hymenoptera] — Thread-wasted wasps dig tunnels in the ground. They provision their nests with caterpillars and sawfly larvae before sealing it.
  90. Eupatorium borer moth, Carmenta bassiformis (Walker, 1856) [Lepidoptera] — Caterpillars of this species bore through the roots of ironweed and Joe-Pye weed.
  91. Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hahn, 1834) [Hemiptera] — This species sequesters chemicals from plants, and their bright coloration is a warning signal to predators of their foul taste.
  92. Reticulated beetle, Tenomerga cinerea (Say, 1831) [Coleoptera] — This wood-boring insect looks very similar to beetles that lived in the Permian, almost 300 million years ago.
  93. European wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum (Linnaeus, 1758) [Hymenoptera] — Males set up territories, and they attack other insects that enter the territory if they are not female wool carder bees.
  94. Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis (Saussure, 1871) [Dictyoptera] — Mantids eat invertebrates and are sometimes cannibalistic. Occasionally, they catch small vertebrates, like hummingbirds.
  95. American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Linnaeus, 1758) [Dictyoptera] — These cockroaches can run up to 50 body lengths per second. A human doing the same would have to run about 320 kph (200 mph).
  96. Mustache wasp, Ectemnius sp. [Hymenoptera] — Mustache wasps, also known as squareheads, excavate holes in logs and provision them with paralyzed flies for their offspring.
  97. Parasitic wood wasp, Orussus terminalis Newman, 1838 [Hymenoptera] — Using their antennae, they listen for wood-boring insects beneath the bark. The Orussus larvae feed on wood-boring insect larvae.
  98. Dogbane beetle, Chrysochus auratus (Fabricius, 1775) [Coleoptera] — These beetles eat dogbane leaves as adults. This species was on a U.S. postage stamp in 1999.
  99. Pennsylvania dingy ground beetle, Harpalus pensylvanicus (Degeer, 1774) [Coleoptera] — This beetle uses a specialized abdominal gland system to produce and spray concentrated formic acid at predators.
  100. Ensign wasp, Hyptia harpyoides Bradley, 1908 [Hymenoptera] — Ensign wasp larvae consume cockroach eggs inside the egg case. This species eats the eggs of Parcoblatta (see 85).

The Frost Entomological Museum


160 Curtin Rd.
State College, PA 16802

Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm