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Scientific name: Arthropoda: : : :
Common Name: Information Sheet, Special Arthropods in the Washington, D.C., Area

Country: USA
State/District: VA
County: Fairfax
Date (D-M-Y): 4 - 1999

Photographer: D.S.Kjar

Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not applicable
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Keywords: A alien invasive species Forest Ecology information sheet special species
Additional Information:

Are there any special arthropods in the Washington, D.C., Area (WDCA)?

Phylum Arthropoda includes Centipedes, Crustaceans (Amphipods, Crabs, Crayfish), Daddylonglegs, Entognathans, Insects, Millipedes, Mites, Scorpions, Spiders, and Ticks.   Each of the thousands of WDCA arthropod species could be considered special in at least one way, such as its behavior, color, ecosystem service that it provides, role in agriculture or horticulture, shape, and size.

With regard to records, the tiniest adult insect might be a trichogrammid wasp which is about 0.18 mm long, and develops within the eggs of other insects.   Some adult mites are about the same size.   The heaviest native insect is probably the Eastern Hercules Beetle, the largest beetle in continental U.S., and up to 2.25 inches long.   The longest local insect is probably the introduced, alien Chinese Mantid with adults up to perhaps 5 inches long.   A female Chinese Mantid full of eggs might be the heavest local insect.   The heaviest local adult arthropod is probably a crayfish.   The insect with the greatest wingspan is the Tiger Swallowtail, which has a wingspan of up to 6.5 inches and is common in the WDCA.

Some of the following arthropods of the WDCA (defined here as Washington, D.C., and adjacent counties in Maryland and Virginia) may interest you.   Below, I list some of the species found in the WDCA, including some rare ones, a species that is named from WDCA specimens, and U.S. state insects and official butterflies.   Based on my Web searching, I found that the WDCA has about 15 of the 20 state insects and official butterflies.

Anax junus, Green Darner Dragonfly.   Washington State adopted this large green insect as its state insect.   Michigan is considering adopting it as well.

Apis mellifera, the Honey Bee, an alien, introduced species.   This is one species of about 340 bee species in the WDCA and of about 30,000 bees species of the world.   Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin adopted the Honey Bee is their state insect, making it the most popular state insect.   Tennessee adopted the Honey Bee as its official agricultural insect.   Although, this is not a native species, it may be so popular due to its honey which can turn on some sweet tooths and its industriousness in making honey and wax and pollinating crop and native plants.

Basilarchia archippus, Viceroy Butterfly.   Kentucky adopted the Viceroy as its official butterfly.

Coccinella novemnota, Nine-spotted Ladybird. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York,, and Ohio adopted the Nine-spotted Ladybird as their state insects.   It may be in the WDCA.

Coccinella septempunctata, Seven-spotted Ladybird.   Tennessee adopted the Seven-spotted Ladybird (native to Europe) as its state insect.   People introduced this beetle into the U.S. as a predator of insect pests.

Copestylum sexmaculatum, a rare flower fly in the WDCA.

Danaus plexippus, Monarch Butterfly.   Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, West Virginia, and Vermont adopted this butterfly as their state insects.

Euphydryas phaeton, Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly.   Maryland adopted this butterfly as its state insect.

Eurytides marcellus, Zebra Swallowtail.   Calvert County, Maryland, adopted the Zebra Swallowtail as its official insect.

Mantis religiosa, European Mantis.   Connecticut adopted this African and European species as its state insect.

Papilio polyxenes, Black Swallowtail.   Oklahoma adopted the Black Swallowtail Butterfly as its state insect.

Papilio troilus, Spicebush Swallowtail.   Glen Echo, Maryland, adopted the Spicebush Swallowtail as its town insect, and Mississippi adopted it as its official butterfly.

Pepsis formosa, Tarantula Hawk Wasp.   New Mexico adopted the Tarantula Hawk Wasp as its state insect.

Photinus pyralis, Pyralis Firefly.   Tennessee adopted this beetle as one of its state insects.

Photuris pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Firefly.   Pennsylvania adopted this insect as its state insect.

Phrontosoma belfragei, a rare sawfly (a kind of wasp) in the WDCA.

Pterourus glaucus, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.   Delaware and Virginia adopted the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail as their state insect.   Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina adopted this Butterfly as their official butterfly.

Rhizophora robusta, a common shore fly (which consumes Pickleweed) that Dr. Wayne Mathis described as a new species based on specimens from Fairfax County, VA.

Sphyracephala brevicornis, “Short-horned Ankle-headed Fly.”   This a small rare fly with compound eyes on stalks.

Stagmomantis carolina, Carolina Mantid.   South Carolina adopted the Carolina Mantid as its state insect.

E. M. B. (November 2002)


Geobopological Survey.   2000.   State Insects Home Page.   Internet file (27 November 2002)

Nstate.   2002.   Official State Insects of the 50 States.   Internet file. (27 November 2002)

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