Nearly-Black Fifteen-Spotted Lady Beetle
Rosie brought me this large, nearly-black lady beetle on May 18, 2012:
I’m not quite sure where she caught it, but it does make up for the practically identical one last year that she let go before I could photograph it. So anyway, we already have an ID on this one. It is another Fifteen-Spotted Lady Beetle (Anatis labiculata), that is so old that it has darkened to the point that you can only see the spots if you look closely.
Lady beetles can evidently live about a year as adults, and given that this one was found in May, it pretty clearly overwintered as an adult. It is unusual to have an insect where the adult form has such a pronounced color change with age, but these certainly do it.
I guess I already said most of what there was to say about this species the last time I posted it, so there isn’t much else to say about it now. It is a rather pretty beetle, though.
With the year winding down to an end, it’s obviously time for me to get all introspective about the state of this blog. I’ve now completed an entire year of posting twice per week instead of once per week. And, at the moment I am writing this, it is still only September 5. So I’ve done it while still maintaining a nearly 4-month posting buffer. Two posts per week seems to be about what I can manage without progressively losing ground, so I’ll keep it up.
There are still plenty of bugs, although after five years I’m finally getting to the point where any given new specimen only has about a 50/50 chance of being something that I haven’t photographed yet. Although, even the commoner ones still often have behaviors that I haven’t documented, and a lot of the time I have pictures of just the larva or adult, or a single sex, but not all the possible forms. So even the ones that have been posted already could still do with more photographing. The lady beetle on this page, for example: I still don’t have a picture of its larva. So, this site is likely to keep me busy pretty much indefinitely, and I estimate at least another five years before it will be really what I call comprehensive. Of course, by that time (depending on technology developments) I might be photographing them in 3D and posting rotatable models. In which case I’d have to start all over again and rephotograph everything . . .
As far as people coming here, one consistent trend I’ve noticed over the years, is that there are about 2.5 times more unique daily visitors from May through October, than there are that visit in December, January, or February (with November and March being transitional months). The weird thing is, the other insect blogs on the Nature Blog Network don’t show any such pronounced seasonal swing (if you click on the little yellow box or red/green arrow next to each blog name, it gives a summary of their visitor statistics).
There also seems to be a bias towards visiting this site in the afternoon or evening (as if people are looking up something they found during the day), while the other blogs look like they get a larger proportion in the morning (maybe by people checking on their blog feeds over breakfast?). This isn’t a complaint – quite the contrary. It tells me that a lot of you who visit here are looking for something different from what the visitors to the other blogs are looking for. Many of you are apparently using this site for exactly what I intended it to be – a field guide and reference. And since there are more bugs to find in the summer than in the winter, there are of course more of you visiting when there are more bugs. It makes me feel that I have found a useful niche for this blog. So, thanks!
 Update as this post goes live: make that closer to 7 months. I’m currently queued up all the way to the middle of July! Once we switched from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, I suddenly found myself with an extra hour to work with every morning, and an entire summer’s accumulation of bug pictures. It looks like I’m settling into a rhythm where I mainly take pictures all summer, and then write them up and prepare them for posting all winter.
 Although, if everybody who came here only came when they wanted to look up a bug that they had just found, then right about now as this posting goes live, I wouldn’t expect anybody to visit and read this. The fact that there are a fair number of people who do visit even now, in the almost-bugless depths of the Midwestern winter, suggests that some of you are actually fans of the site and come by every week . . . [wipes away sentimental tear] I love you guys!
 A note on comments: so far, there have been 2,663 actual comments from real people posted, which I have greatly enjoyed reading. At the same time, the spam filter has caught 95,625 spam comments. I am duly grateful for the efforts that have been put into making this excellent spam filter. It hardly ever either lets a spam through, or mismarks a comment from a real person as spam.