Eastern Tailed Blue
These little guys don’t sit still for long and don’t like being approached but I managed to get a reasonable shot of one today. Eastern tailed blue, Everes comyntas.
Follow-up: I have two more pictures of this butterfly taken on April 27 in my Extras gallery.
I went out hoping to get a better butterfly picture today. I got a few but they aren’t enough better than yesterday’s picture to justify putting them here. So, here’s a picture of a yellow jacket on a garlic mustard flower.
his is a common buckeye (Junonia coenia), posing for me on a garlic mustard. An uncommonly beautiful butterfly, I think.
I found a lady beetle today. She was nice and bright and crawling around on garlic mustard and mile-a-minute vine. Cute little thing, isn’t she?
Tiny Green Damselfly
These little things are quite shy and wouldn’t let me get very close so this is cropped from a larger image. It could be a little sharper but I’m pretty pleased with it.
What Is It?
Anyone have a guess as to what this is?
Male Ebony Jewelwing
Without the white spot on the wing, this is the male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata). Handsome fellow, too, but fairly shy.
This little fellow is only about 3/8 inch long but he’s as busy as any bee you’ll find. I originally labeled this as a bee but noticing that it only has two wings, I’ve changed the title to Tiny Fly. I’m guessing that it’s a diptera (di = two, and ptera = wings) — a true fly.
These little damselflies don’t stay put for very long and they don’t like you to get too close. Also, it was on the warm side today, especially in the sun, which made it harder. I did manage to get two shots of this one. Argia fumipennis violacea
Variegated Lady Beetle
This is a Variegated Lady Beetle (Hippodamia variegata), a non-native species that has only relatively recently (since the 1980s) been found on this side of the Atlantic. Like all the lady beetles, they are predaceous on other insect pests and are welcome in the garden or (as here) the farm.
I’m not sure which one but I’m fairly certain that this is one of the 50+ Lopidea species, possibly L. media. It’s posing for me on an unopened stock flower. No more than 3/8 inch long (not counting the antennae).
Albert corrected me as to the identification. I had labeled it as Perithemis domitia, the slough amberwing. He correctly identified it as Perithemis tenera, the eastern amberwing. That makes more sense, base on where I took the picture and the range of the two species. Also, the differences in markings, although not glaring, are certainly enough to be definitive. Thanks, Albert.
Honey Bee on Wild Onion
I’ll end the first six months of Project 365 with a honey bee (Apis mellifera), busily visiting the flowers on a wild onion in the empty lot next to my office.
We enjoyed a pleasant dusk catching fireflies in the yard today. The joys of summer. Kind of hard to photograph, though. Here’s one on Dorothy’s thumb. She thought it interesting that little girls that don’t normally associate closely with insects have no problem catching fireflies. Somehow they are different.
I know some of you are probably getting tired of wasps but I this is one of the nicer wasp pictures I’ve gotten, so, here you go with another one. UPDATE: Identified as Halictus parallelus, a sweat bee.
If I get an identification for it I’ll change the label but for now, it’s a wasp of some kind. I spent about a half hour at the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) in the back yard today. The sun was pretty hot so by the time I came in I was wilting. The insects didn’t mind and were really out in huge numbers.
Great Golden Digger Wasp
I keep thinking I’m done with wasps and bees and then I find a new one (there are thousands, after all). This, I’m pretty sure, is a great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus). This isn’t the best picture I took in terms of identifying the wasp but I really like this head-on view.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
This is a male eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). These and more of the silver-spotted skippers (see photo in yesterday’s Extra gallery) were out in force today feeding on the teasel (Dipsacus sp.) flowers in the lot next to my office.
Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar
This thing is huge. It’s as big around as my thumb and as long as my middle finger. Actually, I think it’s pretty amazing that this big, squishy, green blob turns into a beautiful (and quite large) moth. In this case, a Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus). It’s named after the Cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey because of the large “eye spot” on its hindwings.
I saw a few of these little moths today. I believe it is a pale beauty (Campaea perlata).
What a perfectly beautiful day it was after the rain stopped and it cleared up. It was a pleasant temperature and there was a gentle breeze. I went outside briefly and took a few pictures including some of this little grasshopper who let me get quite close.
Mushrooms and Ant
These mushrooms have suddenly appeared in our back yard. I’m hoping they are growing on the roots of the tree that came down in the summer of 2010.
Poecilocapsus lineatus (Four-lined Plant Bug)
I don’t know that I’d call this a serious pest but it certainly does make our garden look worse this time of year. This little bug has been here in pretty good numbers in recent years and they suck the juices out of some of our plants, making their leaves brown and desiccated. It generally doesn’t do the plant irreparable harm but it doesn’t do it much good, either. In past years I spray them and cut them off before they do their worst. This year I never got around to it and the damage is pretty well done at this point. They’re pretty, little things, I admit. But pests, nonetheless.
I was out in the yard taking pictures this evening and after taking a few of the rose I just posted, I noticed that there were a lot of little insects moving around in the grass. When I say little, I’m talking about insects in the 2 to 3mm range. As I walked around, they leapt away from me. I got down on the ground but when they were not moving, they were hard to find. What I did find, however, was this exuviae, the exoskeleton of some small insect that left it behind on a blade of grass. It’s about 5mm long and appears to be from some sort of grasshopper or cricket. The word exuviae is Latin and means ‘things stripped from a body.’
Skipper on Coreopsis
I sat on the patio for a while this afternoon, just enjoying being in the sun. It was actually a little hot for my taste, but still nice for all of that. Also, the light is better for macro photography in the sun, when you want as much depth of field and as fast a shutter speed as possible. I was watching the insects around the potted flowers on the patio and got a few pictures of this skipper (family Hesperiidae) on a coreopsis (a.k.a. tickseed) flower. The insects aren’t around it the huge numbers we’ll have in a few weeks, particularly when the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) starts to bloom, but they are certainly here and I really enjoy them.
Speyeria cybele cybele (Great Spangled Fritillary)
I drove down to Lake Needwood on the way home today and stopped to take a few pictures. I followed a pair of fritillaries for a while and got a few half decent pictures. I also went after a great blue heron but wasn’t able to get anything worth while there. This is a great spangled fritillary and apparently there are at least 7 subspecies (and depending on who you ask, more than that). I naively assumed they were distinguished by variations in the patterns on their wings but apparently they are identified by distribution. Who knew? This was identified by the good people of BugGuide.net as subspecies S. c. cybele. Note: the red in the background is my car. I tried to get pictures without that but for this one, which turned out the best of the butterfly, it was unavoidable. Oh, well.
I went out to take some pictures of flowers this afternoon and that’s what I did at first. Well, first I got a few pictures of a rabbit (an eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus). Then I took a few flower pictures but I noticed this little fellow on a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It is the nymph of a Scudderia, a genus of eight species in our area comprising the bush katydids. This is just a small portion of the larger group of all katydids, of which there are nearly 250 species in 49 genera in eastern North America. Anyway, I think this is a cute little guy and I took quite a few pictures. Enjoy.
Lady Beetle Larva
It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot afternoon today and I went out into the woods next to my building. As I walked through the underbrush under the sycamore, tulip poplar, redbud, walnut, and black cherry trees, I noticed this little creature on a leaf. This is the larva of a lady beetle. The family Coccinellidae, the lady beetles, has about 6,000 species in 360 genera worldwide and nearly 500 in eastern North America. I have no idea to which of those this larva belongs and I’m not even going to try to figure it out. The adults are generally easier to narrow down but to me, anyway, the larva are just too much alike. I found a key to the larva of North American lady beetles but it starts out as follows. Tell me how helpful this is to you:
Mandible with digitiform teeth, retinaculum absent; terga with scoli, sometimes with parascoli; frontoclypeal suture complete; antenna long, 3 or more times as long as wide, of nearly uniform diameter.
Blow Fly on Monarda
I got a few insect photos today, including a few of large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) on milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), an eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on buddleia flowers, an eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) on a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and some sort of longlegged fly (family Dolichopodidae). Finally, I got some of this blow fly (family Calliphoridae) on scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma). It’s not my favorite insect. In fact, I’d have to rank it in the bottom half rather than the top. I don’t mind wasps and bees in general but flies and particular what I consider to be the ‘annoying flies’ are in the negative side of the scale, along with mosquitoes and horse and deer flies. But their metallic green bodies are pretty cool, in spite of that.
It was a hot but beautiful day and I went out into the lot next to my office this afternoon. I saw and photographed a young white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas), an eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens), and an eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica). As I sat next to a dried up drainage pond I watched grasshoppers moving around. I was able to get close enough to this one to get a pretty good photograph. This is one of over 260 Melanoplus species, which are spur-throated grasshoppers, subfamily Melanoplinae of the short-horned grasshoppers, family Acrididae. After I came back to my parking lot, I walked down to the pond and saw a pair of belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) and got a pictures of one that’s good enough to confirm the sighting but not much better than that.
Bee on Asclepias
I haven’t had a chance to look up this bee and I’m not sure this picture is good enough for a positive identification, in any case. There are a lot of little bees that look somewhat like this. This is the best of the pictures I got and it is still not very sharp. It’s a pretty little bee and I’m happy with the picture overall, though. I love the bright orange of the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It generally makes a nice contrast to the dark colors of bees. I didn’t take a lot of pictures today, though, so there were not a lot to choose from.
I managed to get outdoors for a little while today and into the woods and upland next to my office building. It was warm but not hot and I enjoyed the break in an otherwise busy day. I got some pictures of a lady beetle on the same stand of yellow ironweed where I took the picture of the leaf-footed bug last Thursday (see Thursday, September 7, 2017). Then when I got out into the sun I was able to get reasonably close to this dragonfly, which I haven’t had time to identify yet. It’s a pretty thing and I particularly like the eyes.
I needed to cut a 4×8 sheet of plywood into 7 pieces today and as usual i did it on the back patio. It’s relatively flat and it’s a lot less work than getting such a large board into the basement. I took a kitchen towel to wipe rhe sweat off my face and when I was done, it was left for a while on a table in the sun. After I had put everything else away, I noticed that this grasshopper had found the towel and was, I assume, eating the salt from my sweat. It stayed quite a while, slowly moving over the exposed cloth. With the camera resting on the table I was able to get some nice close-up pictures of the grasshopper.
Carpenter Bee on Stonecrop
I decided to take some pictures of plants on the driveway this evening. One that I got pictures of is an elephant ear, otherwise known as taro and more precisely called Colocasia esculenta. After that I started taking some pictures of the pale pink flowers on an autumn flowering stonecrop, probably ‘Autumn Joy’, also known as ‘Herbstfreude’. Although these are often referred to as sedum, they have been reclassified as a Hylotelephium species. As I was taking the pictures, this eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) came and gave me another point of interest.
Monarch on Zinnia
We had a short visit from Dorothy this weekend. She flew down to Richmond late Thursday evening and came up here this morning for a less-than-24-hour visit. We went out to the Glenn’s farm (properly known as Rocklands Farm) and while we were there I got some pictures of a monarch (Danaus plexippus) on Anna’s flowers. We enjoyed being outdoors although truth be told, it was a bit warmer than is my preference. Still, a beautiful day.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
IN general I try not to post pictures of the same thing close together and especially not two days in a row. However, needs must. I only took a few pictures today and the only pictures worth sharing from today are of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in our back yard. This one doesn’t have the orange flower complimenting the butterfly but it’s still pretty nice, I think. These are here in pretty good numbers right now, and I’m really enjoying them on the Buddleia and (like this one) the Verbena bonariensis.
Vespa crabro (European Hornet)
I went out back to see what I could find to photograph this evening. There was a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly on the Buddleia and I got some reasonable but not great pictures of that. Then I noticed this large, yellow and brown wasp on the steps. This is a large wasp, about 2cm in length. Not as big as the eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus) but still a pretty good size. As the common name implies, these are native to Eurasia. They were introduced to eastern North America in the 1800s. They are one of the many wasps to build paper nests out of chewed wood pulp.
Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
The buddleia in the back and side yards is going to be done blooming soon but while there are still flowers on it, the butterflies are making the most of the time they have left. There were dozens of painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) in the yard today, as well as a handful of monarchs (Danaus plexippus). I got a few pictures of both together but since I’ve posted monarch pictures recently and it’s been a few years since I featured a painted lady, I decided to go with this one, which I think shows it off pretty well.
Alydus eurinus (Broad-headed Bug)
It was a gloriously beautiful day today and I had a little time for lunch so I went out into the empty lot next to my building and lay on my back in a patch of dry grass. The sky was a beautiful blue. The sun was warm but the air was cool, so it was perfectly comfortable. While I was sitting, this little bug flew up and landed on a blade of grass right in front of me. I was able to get a handful of pictures, although they are not as sharp as I’d like. I had to take it from a slightly awkward sitting position. When I tried to lie down to get a better position, I scared it off.
Leaf Buds with Insect
I took my camera with me to a meeting across campus and then spent a little time taking pictures on the way back. The Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is starting to leaf out and in spite of the fact that it’s quite likely that we’ll have another freeze, it’s not at all bothered. It’s pretty well suited for cold and a light freeze or two isn’t going to do it any harm. This little insect, however, may be jumping the gun a bit. I don’t know, really. Perhaps it, too, has ways to deal with late freezes. I know some of my followers think it a bit funny that I try to identify all the plants and animals in my posts with their Latin names. You’ll be happy to know that I have no idea what sort of insect this is and I’m going to leave it at that.
Calopteryx maculata (Ebony Jewelwing)
I stopped on the way home today to take a short walk on Rock Creek Trail. I went over to the creek, where I had been a few weeks ago when the water was so high. There were quite a few insects about this time, including a lot of these pretty little damselflies. This is a male ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata). The females have a conspicuous, white spot near the end of their wings (the “spot” on this one is a reflection, not really a spot). The photo is not as sharp as I would have liked but they don’t appreciate close approach and it’s the best I was able to get. One thing I really like about this picture, though, is that you can see the edge of the leaf through the damselfly’s wings.
Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens)
The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) is in bloom and that generally means I have an opportunity to photograph common eastern bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) like this one. I don’t recommend planting loosestrife unless you really enjoy digging up plants where they appear throughout your garden. It can easily get ahead of you. We sometimes joke about planting two aggressive plants in a container and waiting to see which comes out on top. This has got to be a contender. It does have nice flowers, though, and its attractiveness to bees speaks well of it. Nevertheless, if I could get rid of all we had, I wouldn’t think twice about it.
Tags: Bee, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumblebee, Gooseneck Loosestrife, Insect, Insects, Loosestrife, Lysimachia, Lysimachia clethroides, Polinators
Monarda didyma, Asclepias tuberosa, and Bombus impatiens
Along our back fence, the garden has really gotten out of control. With the work we’ve been doing on our mom’s houses, we haven’t really had time to give it half the attention it needs and deserves. Consequently, it’s got goldenrod, poke weed, and thistles growing in abundance. Three of our planted perennials are doing quite well, however, including the bee balm (Monarda didyma, also known as Oswego tea or bergamot) and the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) shown here. The other, not yet in bloom, is obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). All three are native to the area and extremely tough. The bees love them and I followed this common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) for a while as he moved from flower to flower.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asclepias, Asclepias tuberosa, Bee, Bee Balm, Bergamot, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumble Bee, Butterfly Weed, Insect, Insects, Monarda, Monarda didyma, Native Plants, Perennial
Dorothy thought she had to work from 4:00 to 9:00 PM today but she got a text just after 11:00 saying she was on from 11:00 to 4:00. Fortunately, we were just driving through campus as she got that, so we were there within minutes. Cathy and I enjoyed a walk around Coy Pond and I took a bunch of pictures, including of water lilies, a great blue heron, and this dragonfly. Later we went to the garden at Long Hall and I took more pictures. That was a nice garden with an interesting collection of trees, shrubs, and perennials. Recommended. We had dinner at La Victoria, a trendy but decent taco place just off of Cabot Street in Beverly.
After work I met my mom at her house and we emptied the garage. I have a few pictures of it, showing how it’s leaning, particularly at the back. We loaded trash into her van to take to the county transfer station and I took a few things to give away or otherwise deal with. When I got home and was unloading my van I noticed this praying mantis on the roof of Margaret’s car. I believe but am not sure that it is a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). I think it is not fully grown, as it was only about two inches long. Like true bugs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, and crickets (to name a few), the mantises undergo what is known as incomplete metamorphosis. That is, instead of larval and pupal stages, the emerge from their eggs as nymphs and grow through a series of instars, where they shed their exoskeletons as they grow.
Honey Bee on Rudbekia Flower
As I’ve mentioned before, the garden is somewhat overrun with Rudbekia (a.k.a. black-eyed Susan) flowers. The bees don’t mind. There are, actually, other things in bloom, but none nearly as obvious. The mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), for instance, is very popular with the bees of all sorts. But their flowers are much less showy. This afternoon I took a bunch of pictures of various bees on the black-eye Susan flowers. This one is a western honey bee, Apis mellifera. Contrary to popular belief, they are in no real danger of all dying out. You can, to a large degree, thank capitalism for that, although I think the danger was considerably exagerated, in any case.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Apis, Apis mellifera, Bee, Black-eyed Susan, Honey Bee, Insect, Insects, Native Plants, Polinator, Rudbeckia
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
I got a few nice arthropod photos today, one spider (a Basilica Orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata) and a few bees. My post for today came down to a choice between this monarch and a photo of a Philanthus gibbosus, one of the thirty-some species of beewolves in our area. It’s a pretty little bee with pitted chitin and a distinctive pattern of yellow and black. I photographed it on a black-eyed Susan, which went well with its coloration. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to go with this rather nice photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Oddly, most people who dislike insects don’t really mind butterflies. It’s true that they are pretty harmless to humans but then, so are a lot of other, more easily despised insects. Maybe it’s because they are so colorful and pretty, but frankly, I think wasps are pretty, so there.
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
In a rare turn for late August, it was very pleasant outside today. The high probably wasn’t over about 82°F and it wasn’t humid at all. In the shade it was quite comfortable. To capitalize on such a nice day, Cathy and I met and took a walk around our company campus. Almost immediately when I went outside, I spotted this dragonfly, which I believe to be a wandering glider (Pantala flavescens), one of the skimmers. That ID may be wrong, but nevertheless, it’s a beautiful thing, with its dark yellow markings and striking red eyes.
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
I stopped at the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue where it crosses the Intercounty Connector today and took some pictures of insects on wildflowers growing on the hillside above the parking lot. I had originally stopped because there were beautiful clouds to the northwest but by the time I got there the sky was pretty much a uniform grey. There were goldenrod soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) all over the goldenrod (which makes a lot of sense) and there were quite a few types of bees. I followed this little butterfly around a while until I was able to get close enough for a few decent photographs. The one taken after this is considerably closer but not as sharp, unfortunately. The dwindling light from the heavy overcast was makign it hard. But I enjoyed being out in the wind and with insects all around.
Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius)
It was dark and raining this morning and into the early afternoon but by 5:00 PM or so the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I wouldn’t actually have minded the clouds staying around because our air conditioner has called it quits and a little less direct sun would have been welcome. Still, it was nice to get out and look for insects to photograph. This little fellow, a Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius), was on some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) in the front garden. I also got some pictures of an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas) but they weren’t very sharp. Quite shy, those little blues.
As you walk through a lawn, chances are there are insects jumping away from you much of the time. We often walk through life not noticing things like that. Many of the insects are too small to be of any note. Slightly larger insects, like this cricket, might catch our eye but still not attract much attention. I went out today specifically looking at the little creatures all around and was able to get fairly close to this one before it hopped away. I haven’t had a chance to look it up to get any sort of identification beyond “cricket” but that’s probably good enough for now.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
I took pictures in the yard this evening. I started with pictures of this butterfly, a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) on the buddleia just into our back yard. It was moving about, skipping from one flower cluster to another but I was able to get a few nice shots from the side (head-on photos of butterflies aren’t very satisfying). I took some pictures of an eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens), also on the buddleia. I took pictures of two different purslanes growing in a hanging basket by the back patio.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
I had a short break in the usual busyness at work today so was able to get out to take a few pictures. I got a few of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I was able to get photos of both of them in flight but they were both pretty far away and they pictures aren’t all that great.
Before I came back inside I walked past some buddleia growing in a flower bed in the front of my building. There were a few monarch butterflies ((Danaus plexippus) flitting around on them. Although the garden was in the shade of the building, there was enough light to get some pretty reasonable photos.
Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
Cathy called me around the south end of the house late this afternoon to take pictures of this male carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) on the buddleia growing there. Carpenter bees are nice to photograph because they don’t mind you getting fairly close to them. Also, the males like this one, identified by the white or pale yellow patch on their face, don’t sting and in fact are unable to do so. I don’t find many bees to be particularly aggressive, though, and I know some people are quite afraid of them. For me, as long as I move slowly and carefully, I’ve never had a problem. I’m not particularly allergic, either, which is important.
Monarch and Bumblebee
I know I posted a photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) recently but I sort of like this photo of a monarch sharing a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with an eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), so here you are. This was taken in the same garden as the former and like that one it was in the afternoon when the shade of the building was on it, so it isn’t as well lit as I would like.
I walked around the small pond next to my building and saw lots of raccoon footprints in the fresh mud. I took some pictures of those and also of some skippers, a cabbage white (Pieris rapae) and a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos).
Tags: Bee, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumblebee, Butterflies, Butterfly, Danaus, Danaus plexippus, Hymenoptera, Insect, Insects, Lepidoptera, Monarch, Polinators
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
I was a bit surprised this afternoon to see this butterfly and was happy to be able to get close enough for a pretty good photograph. It turns out that the commas overwinter as adults and they can be seen on warmer days, such as today. The name comes from a curved, comma shaped mark on the underside of their hind wings. Another species in the genus has a question mark (and therefore is called the question mark instead of a comma). It’s a pretty little thing and it really brightened up my day to come across it.
One of the things in my in-laws house that we didn’t get rid of was this butterfly collection. It’s a box about 15 by 20 inches that opens up like a book to twice that size. Each side has butterflies mounted between cotton backing and a glass plate. They are quite lovely and varied. Not shown here is a very large butterfly that is bright blue on its underside (which is the visible side in the collection). The other side, the upper sides of the wings are brown. In this way, it blends in with the the earth from above and with the sky from below.
I walked across Rt 28 today, wanting to be outdoors for a little while. On the slope leading down to a fairly large drainage pond there were little clumps of yellow flowers, most likely American wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras). I sat next to one such clump and took a handful of pictures. I thought about trying to get a photo of the swallows that were patrolling the pond and presumably helping keep the bug population under control. I didn’t really have the right equipment for that and it’s pretty tough, in any case, as they are really moving fast and are not very big. I settled for photographing this little damselfly instead.
I wen out again today to see what I could see. The sky was overcast so the sun wasn’t so hot. The dragonflies were also not about in such great numbers. I did get a few pictures,though, including some of this beetle that I think is a rove beetle, Family Staphylinidae, the first or second largest animal family, with somewhere around 56,000 species in 3500 genera. Only the ichneumon wasps, family Ichneumonidae is larger, with an estimated 60,000 species. Anyway, there are some 4,400 species of rove beetle in our area. You’d think you’d see them a lot more often.
Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)
I went out looking for pictures as usual this afternoon, when I got home from work. There is Campanula in bloom in the yard, and I took some pictures of those flowers. They don’t tend to come out the same color in photographs as they are in real life. Not entirely sure why. Then I moved over to the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides), which is a real attraction to the bees. It’s quite invasive and I really would recommend against planting it in the strongest language, but if you already have it, you might as well enjoy the bees. There were a few honey bees but mostly it was the common eastern bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) that were moving quickly from flower to flower.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Bee, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumble Bee, Common Eastern Bumble Bee, Eastern Bumble Bee, Gooseneck Loosestrife, Hymenoptera, Insect, Insecta, Insects, Loosestrife, Lysimachia, Lysimachia clethroides
This firefly, a beetle in family Lampyridae, probably in the genus Photinus, was on a weed in the back of our garden this evening. According to BugGuide.net there are 34 described species in this genus and identification of a single specimen by morphology alone is often impossible. So, I’m not even going to try. It’s a firefly and that’s good enough. One interesting fact about fireflies is that females in the genus Photuris are known to lure in males of Photinus species and eat them in order to obtain a defensive, steroid-like compound that they contain.
Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa)
I went out to the vacant lot next to my office today. It was quite warm but the weather patterns promise hotter weather ahead. I got a few pictures of an orbweaver spider (Leucauge venusta) but since I posted one of those recently, I’ve decided to go with this pennant, probably a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa). I also got one, not so good photo of a tailed blue, but I’m holding out for a better picture before I post one of those.
Note: I labeled this as a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa) without paying close attention to detail. I’m relabeling it as a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina).
Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)
I know I’ve posted a picture of a similar dragonfly recently, but I didn’t get a lot of great pictures today so this is what I have. This is also, I think, a better picture than the one previously posted. I had originally labeled that one as a calico pennant (Celithemis elisa) but I’ve rethought that and have relabeled it as a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina), the same as this one. It’s a handsome dragonfly, whatever it is. I had tough time getting close enough for this picture, so I’m relatively pleased with it.
Papilio glaucus (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)
This is a dark-morph (and thus a female) eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on the buddleia outside our kitchen door. The tiger swallowtails are the most numerous, large butterflies in our garden, followed by monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Otherwise, we only have occasional visitors. There are a lot of smaller butterflies and skippers, particularly small skippers. But the large, gaudy swallowtails are fun to watch and among my favorites.
Polygonia interrogationis (Question Mark)
I stopped at Lake Needwood this afternoon to see what I could see. It’s gotten quite hot, with the forecast for hotter still by the end of the week. The butterflies and dragonflies like that sort of weather, and they were out in pretty good numbers. I happened to spot this question mark (Polygonia interrogationis), so called because of a roughly question mark shaped mark on the underside of their hindwings. I got one photo of the butterfly on a shrub and then if flew and landed on my thigh, thus the blue denim of my jeans. I was able to get a few pretty good photos, including this one. I also got one showing the question mark, but I think this is prettier.
Northern Flatid Planthopper (Flatormenis proxima)
I took a few pictures of butterfly weed flowers this evening and I might have posted one of them. A little later I noticed this white leafhopper and got a few pictures of it, including this reasonably sharp image. Getting a good picture was made more difficult by the breeze, which was moving the stem the planthopper was on, but this one turned out pretty well. It was sharp enough for it to be identified as a northern flatid planthopper (Flatormenis proxima), one of our more common planthoppers. They do little damage and I left him alone to get what he needed from this plant.
Tags: Bugs, Flatormenis, Flatormenis proxima, Hemiptera, Insect, Insects, Macro, Northern Flatid Planthopper, Planthopper, True Bugs, White
Eristalis transversa (Transverse Flower Fly)
I was taking photos of the black-eyed Susan flowers this evening when I spotted this little fly, a transverse flower fly (Eristalis transversa) visiting them. It wouldn’t stay still for very long and I had a hard time getting a good picture. Ideally it would be on top of the dark eye in the flower, but I wasn’t able to get that. I like the combination of colors that matches the flowers. These are pretty little flies and easily spotted in the garden. As flies go, I enjoy these about as much as any.
Danaus plexippus (Monarch)
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
Junonia coenia (Common Buckeye)
I chased down some butterflies in the back yard today, including this common buckeye (Junonia coenia). They are resident year round in the south as far north as North Carolina and they move north over the course of the summer. Because of that we tend to have them later in the year than other butterflies and I’ve only just started to see them. They are pretty easy to identify and are very different to the other species that we have. This one, obviously was interested in the black-eyed Susan flowers that are in such abundance in our yard right now.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Black-eyed Susan, Buckeye, Butterfly, Common Buckeye, Insect, Insecta, Junonia, Junonia coenia, Lepidoptera, Orange, Yellow
Atteva aurea (Ailanthus Webworm Moth)
I took some butterfly pictures this afternoon, as well as some flower pictures. While sitting in the chair that Cathy was in when I took the picture for a few days ago I could get pretty close to a few flowers without having to strain my back. Then walking around I saw this prettily colored ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) on a black-eyed Susan. It took me a while to get down on the ground to get the pictures but I think it was worth the effort. Although it’s named for and feeds on a non-native tree, the Ailanthus webworm moth is actually a North American native from Florida, where its original host was the Simarouba glauca (paradise tree) and Simarouba amara.
I was a little worried about sitting through church this morning but my back tolerated sitting for long enough that it wasn’t a problem. We were happy to see some friends that visited the church a few weeks ago come back again today. After church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve next door to see what was going on there. They’ve been renovating the mid-century modern house that the Stadtmans build and lived in and it’s nice to see the progress. There were naked lady’s (Amaryllis belladonna) in bloom and I got a few photos of this little brown and white caterpillar. I have no idea what sort of creature it is. I’m going to guess a moth but I won’t go any farther than that.
Megachile mendica (Flat-tailed Leaf-cutter Bee)
I have yet another “insect on a black-eyed Susan” photo today. These are by far the most numerous flowers in our yard this time of year. They aren’t necessarily the insects’ favorite flower but most pollinators are fairly broad minded and visit lots of different plants. The Buddleia bushes are the clear favorites with the butterflies and the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is probably the most popular with the bees and wasps, but they all visit the black-eyed Susans, as well.
Dolichovespula maculata (Bald-faced Hornet)
The pollinators are quite busy in the yard these days. Especially in the afternoon, when the sun is hammering down on the flowers, the bees, wasps, moths, and butterflies are to be seen in great numbers. The mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is literally a buzz with them. The skippers seem to favor the black-eyed Susans. The butterflies, not surprisingly, go for the butterfly bush (Buddleia). That being said, this large hornet was coming back again and again to the buddleia. I’m not as happy with it as I might be but it’s a decent photo. These wasps are social and build large paper enclosed nests. I’m a little surprised to only see one of them, but there are surely more around the area.
I took a few wasp pictures again today but they were too blurry to use. One was clear enough to get a good idea what it was, but nothing to write home about. Then I went out to the middle of the back yard and took some photos of the berries on the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). They’re starting to turn pale purple and it’s easy to see where the shrub gets its common name. This skipper landed on the berries and I was able to get close enough for a pretty good portrait before it skipped away. I’ve only occasionally gone to the trouble to identify individual skipper species. With some notable exceptions they are all pretty similar and I just never get around to it.
Boloria bellona (Meadow Fritillary)
What an absolutely beautiful day it was today. The high was in the 70s and in August, that’s a rare and joyous thing. I worked on the car today, gluing the rear-view mirror back on in one van and replacing the struts that hold open the rear hatch on the other. Cathy and I also did a fair amount of yard work, pulling up weeds and beginning the process of clearing out some of the central bed in the back yard. There were two trees where that bed is, a medium sized red maple and a fairly large silver maple. They’ve been down since the spring of 2013 and as the roots have rotted, a few holes have opened up and need to be filled. The whole bed needs quite a bit of work, to be honest, including digging out some particularly tenacious weeds. I took a break to take pictures of some of the many butterflies that were out today, including this meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona), a pretty medium sized brush-footed butterfly.
Sphex nudus (Katydid Wasp)
The bees and wasps are out in force these days. I spent a little time around the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) this afternoon and enjoyed the variety of buzzing insects (most of them are basically silent, actually). The most numerous are the bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) and the large but gentle carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica). The wasps are pretty well represented, though, and today I saw a handful of these katydid wasps (Sphex nudus) as well as some potter wasps (Eumenes fraternus). I got a few photos of that last one, but they weren’t as good as I would have liked. I’ll keep trying.
Tumbling Flower Beetle
I didn’t get any really good pictures today. It was after 6:00 when I went out and there wasn’t much insect activity this evening, for some reason. I did come across this little beetle, about 5mm long, on the petal of a black-eyed Susan. I think it’s a Tumbling Flower Beetle in Family Mordellidae (possibly in Genus Mordellistena, but I am really unsure). It’s a cute little thing and I was only able to get a few pictures before it flew off.
Pachydiplax longipennis (Blue Dasher)
I’ve been meaning to get out of the office for a short walk to the empty lot next to my building for over a week now. The upper part, where it was mostly mugwort, milkweed, and goldenrod has been mowed and it looks very different. I don’t know if this is a prelude to actual building plans coming to fruition. Plans to develop it started at least 25 years ago and the top soil was scraped up into a large mound that now has mid-size trees on it. There are a few drainage ponds and they are all abuzz with insects and birds. I saw a green heron when I first got there and then photographed a few dragonflies, including this blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).
Danaus plexippus (Monarch)
The butterfly weed (Asclepias) growing in a container outside our back door is very attractive to insects but particularly so to monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Lately we’ve had two of them on it at once and occasionally three. I got a few pictures of the two today but I think this is a better portrait of this handsome butterfly. I really enjoyed sitting and watching them flutter around the flowers, stopping occasionally at other plants but generally preferring the butterfly weed.
Eumenes fraternus (Potter Wasp)
This potter wasp (Eumenes fraternus) is one of my favorite wasps (doesn’t everyone have favorite wasps?). There’s fairly common around here. While they are particularly drawn to the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), they are also found regularly on the black-eyed Susans (Rudbekia) and painter’s palette (a.k.a. knotweed, Persicaria virginiana). I think it’s their clean lines that I like. They’re difficult to photograph well and I’m not really happy with this photo, although it’s the best I was able to get. They don’t really stop moving and unless the light is very strong, it’s hard to get both adequate depth of field and a short enough exposure to stop their motion.
Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)
It’s milkweed bug time in the garden. Cathy and I are both big fans of pretty much any species of Asclepias. This one is Asclepias curassavica, often known as scarlet milkweed. It’s growing in a container on our back patio and it really attracts the insects. I had a photo of a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on it recently and today’s photo is of the aptly named large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). We also have a good colony of oleander aphids (Aphis nerii) and I may publish a photo of those, unless we get around to taking care of them before I do that. Like many insects that feed on milkweed, these bugs accumulate toxins from the plants which can “potentially sicken any predators foolish enough to ignore the bright colors which warn of their toxicity.” (bugguide.net)
There are a few paper wasps that are very difficult to distinguish and some that are impossible without examining them at the microscopic level. A number of them are quite variable, as well, adding to the difficulty. I think this is a northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) but I’m nowhere near sure. It’s a beautiful creature, whatever it is. This was taken with my 100mm lens with the addition of a 25mm extension tube in bright evening sunlight. As you can see, I was able to get fairly close and I’m pleased by how sharp this turned out. You might also notice the aphids on the underside of the leaf the wasp is on. I took some photos of those, as well, but haven’t identified them yet (beyond the generic “aphid”).
Oleander Aphids (Aphis nerii ) and Lady Beetle Larva
I mentioned the aphids on the Asclepias curassavica (scarlet milkweed) when I posted the photo of the large milkweed bug a few days ago. Here’s a picture of the aphids. It was fairly dark when I took this (7:45 in the evening) and I used a flash to light them, which allowed me to get reasonable depth of field. I used a flashlight give me enough light to focus, with the camera on a tripod (which I definitely should use more often). As I was taking the pictures, I realized the aphids were not alone. There is a larva of a lady beetle of some sort (probably an Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis), feeding on the aphids. Unfortunately, there are too many aphids for this lone predator, and I’m going to need to take care of them myself.
Tags: Aphids, Aphis, Aphis nerii, Coccinellidae, Hemiptera, Insect, Insecta, Lady Beetle, Larva, Oleander Aphids, Yellow
Cosmopepla lintneriana (Twice-stabbed Stink Bug)
I was out photographing flowers this evening. The light was fading and I didn’t think I could realistically get any photos of bees, wasps, or other flying insects. I was down on the ground to get some pictures of obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, and I happened to notice this little fellow. I went in and got my flash, so I could get pictures that were worth something and I’m pretty happy with the results. This little bug (a true bug in the Heteroptera suborder) is only two or three millimeters long and if I hadn’t been down on the ground and very close, I never would have seen it. It is a twice-stabbed stink bug, Cosmopepla lintneriana. This one happens to be a nymph (an immature) and when adult will be mostly black with two red patches (the two “stab” marks of its common name).
Tags: Bug, Cosmopepla, Cosmopepla lintneriana, Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Insect, Insecta, Macro, Stink Bug, Tiny Bug, Twice-stabbed Stink Bug
Bombus impatiens (Common Eastern Bumble Bee)
Who doesn’t love the humble bumble bee? They are everywhere and like many of us, they are not particularly flashy or flamboyant. Nevertheless, they busily go about their business. I like them quite a bit and enjoy watching them move from flower to flower. In this case, a common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) is on wingstem, also known as yellow ironweed (Verbesina alternifolia). There were also honey bees (Apis mellifera) and ailanthus webworm moths (Atteva aurea) on the same group of flowers. It had become quite hot again, with temperatures in the low 90s, and I’m starting to look forward to autumn.
Carpenter Ant (Camponotus castaneus)
I came across this carpenter ant (Camponotus castaneus) in the yard today. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get an identification on this ant. BugGuide.net says, about carpenter ants (Genus Camponotus), “This is one of the most species-rich ant genera, with perhaps 1000 species World-wide.” Nevertheless, it was identified. These are pests, of course, if they get into structures or valuable trees but they are fairly ubiquitous on almost the entire globe (only excluding the polar regions). They’re pretty things, like most insects, however.
Harmonia axyridis (Asian Lady Beetle)
This is the “many-named ladybird”. It has been called ‘multicolored’ (or ‘multicoloured’ in Britain), ‘multivariate’, ‘southern’, ‘Japanese’, ‘Asian’, ‘Halloween’, ‘harlequin’ and ‘pumpkin’ ladybird/ladybug/ladybeetle. I’m going with the simple ‘Asian’ and sticking to beetle, because it’s in the order Coleoptera. It’s a largish lady beetle and this particular species is immensely variable. The “standard” is red to red-orange with 18 spots, but as you can see, this one only has 12 (six on each side). The background ranges from a slightly orangy yellow to red and there are even versions with red spots on a black background.
Danaus plexippus (Monarch) Caterpillar
Murgantia histrionica (Harlequin Bug)
Papilio polyxenes asterius (Black Swallowtail)
Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)
Allograpta obliqua (Common Oblique Syrphid)
Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Spotted Cucumber Beetle)
I went on a short outing this afternoon to the Agricultural Farm Park today and spent a little time wandering around the Master Gardener’s display garden. Mostly I photographed insects (and a few flowers). It was a pretty productive outing as far as insect photos go.
- Danaus plexippus (Monarch) Caterpillar
- Murgantia histrionica (Harlequin Bug)
- Papilio polyxenes asterius (Black Swallowtail)
- Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)
- Allograpta obliqua (Common Oblique Syrphid)
- Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Spotted Cucumber Beetle)
I’m particularly happy with the oblique syrphid fly, as that’s the first one I’ve photographed. The black swallowtail is one we don’t see nearly as often as the eastern tiger swallowtail. I’ve seen harlequin bugs on occasion but not all that often. The same is true of the cucumber beetle.
Tags: Allograpta, Allograpta obliqua, Beetle, Black Swallowtail, Butterflies, Butterfly, Caterpillar, Coleoptera, Common Oblique Syrphid, Cucumber Beetle, Danaus, Danaus plexippus, Diabrotica, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, Diptera, Euptoieta, Euptoieta claudia, Fly, Fritillary, Harlequin Bug, Hymenoptera, Insect, Insecta, Insects, Lepidoptera, Monarch, Murgantia, Murgantia histrionica, Oblique Syrphid, Papilio, Papilio polyxenes, Papilio polyxenes asterius, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Stink Bug, Swallowtail, Syrphid, True Bugs, Variegated Fritillary
I happened to look out my window this afternoon and saw this stink bug on the outside of the glass. Actually, it’s not unusual to see them inside the building. My guess is that this is a brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) but I’m not entirely sure and I’m not going to bother looking harder at it. The banded antennae are distinctive, along with the mottled color, but again, that’s just a guess and it’s good enough for me. I also took some pictures this evening of a hardy begonia that’s growing outside our front door. Those are probably prettier than this, being pink and yellow instead of tan (and buggy). But they weren’t as good as I’d like and I can always try to get better pictures, when the light is a bit stronger.
I took pictures of insects on aster flowers this evening. There was a bumble bee covered with little white dots that I’m pretty sure were eggs of some kind and didn’t bode well for the little critter. There was also a beautiful, metallic green, sweat bee (family Halictidae) and I got a picture of it as it lifted off the flower, which would have been amazing if it had been in better focus. The light was relatively low and I was using a flash with a white reflector for these pictures, which helped considerably. I also had a 25mm extension tube behind my 100mm macro lens, which helped me get that much closer.
Cupido comyntas (Eastern Tailed-Blue)
I went outside today and walked around a bit in the lot next to my office. The weather was fine and it was nice to be out in the sunshine. I startled a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) as I walked towards a vernal drainage pond. It’s often completely dry by this time of year but it had more water in it than in previous years and it hasn’t all evaporated yet. Above it, I was able to get close enough to get a pretty good photograph of this eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas). They are pretty common but easily missed, as they are fairly small and flit around near the ground. They’re worth looking out for, I think.
Eupeodes americanus (American Hover Fly)
Cathy and I worked in the yard this afternoon. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot to be done in the yard but I think we’ve made progress, at least. I took a break and took some pictures in the back yard. There are some bracket fungi on the ground above where there used to be a silver maple. They come up every year as the roots rot. I also took some pictures of some butterflies on the flowers around the patio. Then I saw this American hover fly (Eupeodes americanus) on the begonias growing in a pot on the patio. I was able to get some pretty decent photos of it as it moved from flower to flower.
Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent)
I sent outside for a little while today and took some pictures of butterflies. I was down near the storm management pond next to my building and saw pearl crescents (Phyciodes tharos) as seen here as well as cabbage whites (Pieris rapae). There were also bees around, but not so many as there were only a few weeks ago. Getting good photographs of butterflies is challenging but it’s something I enjoy. This is a mid-sized butterfly, considerably smaller than the swallowtails or monarch but larger then the blue, featured recently. They are fairly common and easily spotted but as with most butterflies, difficult to get too close to.
I met Cathy outside for a little while early this afternoon. As we were walking back towards the entrance to my building we saw a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) near the parking lot and I was able to get a few nice photographs of her. Cathy went back to her office and I went down near the pond and took some photos of insects. There was a type of fly that I hadn’t seen before. I thought it was a thick-headed fly (Family Conopidae) but it was identified as a Dioprosopa clavata, a syrphid fly (Family Halictidae) that resembles a thick-headed fly. Today’s photo, however, is of this metalic green sweat bee, a female in the genus Augochlorella.
Bombylius major (Greater Bee Fly)
I went out to take pictures last this morning, taking a short break from work. I had expected to take pictures of flowers of one sort or another but I happened to see this greater bee fly (Bombylius major) and was able to get pretty close to it and got a reasonable photo. It’s a fairly distinctive looking fly, with a hairy body. Differentiating flies from bees is generally easy if you can count their wings. The order Diptera, which is the flies, is so named because they have two wings (i.e. a single pair) instead of the normal insect wing count of four (two pairs).
Vespa crabro (European Hornet)
This is a European hornet (Vespa crabro). It’s also dead. I found it on the floor of the basement when I stepped on it in my bare feet, which worried me a little. It was mostly dead before I stepped on it and completely dead after that. Since I didn’t get stung, I’m over it. They are predatory on other insects so in general (and outside my basement), I have no problem with them being around. They are similar in size to the eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus) but are quite different in appearance. As large as they are, the European hornet is smaller than the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia, sometimes referred to as murder hornets), which can be 30% to 50% larger.
I haven’t included the specific name for this lady beetle in my title because I’m not entirely sure what it is. My guess would be that it’s an Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), though as they are quite common and this certainly looks right. But I’m no expert. I got one photo of this on a leaf before it flew away so although it isn’t as sharp a picture as I’d like, it’s all I have. These are, of course, insects that we like to have in our garden, as they eat aphids. I haven’t seen aphids in great numbers in the garden yet this year but they’ll be along before too long, have no fear. That and Japanese beetles are the two insect pests I see the most in the summer months.
Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)
I took some photos of some yellow flowering sedum this afternoon but they didn’t turn out very well. You’d be stuck with them except I happened to see this Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) on a stem and got down on the ground to get a few photos of it. This plant has a flower cluster similar to Queen Anne’s lace but that’s not what it is. It’s a very aggressive weed that we picked up somewhere along the way and we really need to do something about it. But it made for a nice photograph, in this case. It may be Chaerophyllum aromaticum but I really don’t know. Whatever it is, you really don’t want any.
Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on Asiatic Lily
We had our first sighting of a tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) today and it was nice enough to perch on the Asiatic lilies growing in our front garden. I’ve actually seen a few butterflies around but haven’t had a chance to get any photos. Soon we’ll have them in abundance, especially when the Buddleia starts to bloom. These Asiatic lilies are surrounded by tiger lily plants (Lilium lancifolium), which are considerably taller and I’m not sure these can get the attention they deserve. On the other hand, this makes them harder for the deer to get to, which is a plus.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asiatic Lilies, Asiatic Lily, Butterfly, Insect, Insecta, Lepidoptera, Lily, Papilio, Papilio glaucus, Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail
Syrphid Fly on Marigold
I went out to take some pictures of flowers today. There are a few sitting on a table that I set up for Cathy to work on and that seemed like a nice place to sit and take pictures. I took some of a coral bells plant (Heuchera x ‘Blondie’) and then I noticed this syrphid file (Family Syrphidae) on a marigold blossom. There’s only so close I can get with my 100mm macro and I’d like some way to get closer. I’ve thought about buying a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 lens that gives magnifications of 1 to 5 times, basically picking up where my current lens leaves off. It’s manual focus, but at that close range, focus is as much a matter of moving the camera closer or further away from the subject.
White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)
I was sitting outside this morning, taking a break from doing some yard work, when I noticed this caterpillar on the tire of my car. I moved it to a plant, figuring it would be shown to better effect there than on the black tire, and then I got my camera and took a few photos. It is a white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma), a species native to our region. Interestingly, the adult females are wingless and therefore flightless. If you find one of these, you’ll want to avoid handling it with your bare hands. Its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin. I let it crawl onto a leaf to move it, so as to avoid any issues.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
The mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is starting to bloom. I won’t claim it’s a hive of activity yet, but there’s certainly a bit of a buzz. Mostly I’m seeing honey bees (Apis mellifera) on them so far, but the mountain mint is very attractive to a wide variety of insect life from small beetles and bugs to bees and wasps, and some butterflies. The buddleia next to this tends to get more butterflies, though. It loves the sun and the insects are out in the most fierce in the heat of the day. Not my favorite time to sit there with my camera but it’s sometimes worth the effort.
Popillia japonica (Japanese Beetle)
I am definitely not a fan of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica), a native of (unsurprisingly) Japan, and instroduced into North America in the early 20th century (first found in the United States in 1916 near Riverton, New Jersey). They are quite destructive of a wide variety of plants, including both ornamental plants (like roses, which they love) and agricultural crops (soybeans, stone fruits, etc.). Their larvae damage lawns, feeding on the roots of grasses. They are, of course, pretty if you can disassociate them from the destruction they cause. But that’s hard for me to do and I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for them. This one is on a rose of Sharon (a.k.a. shrub althea, Hibiscus syriacus).
Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)
After we got home from visiting mom this afternoon we were sitting in the front yard. The evenings have been warm but so much nicer than it’s been during the heat of the day. Because my work setup is in the basement, I feel like I need to get outdoors some each day so I’m going out front after work to read. Today wasn’t a work day, but I sat out anyway. I had just taken a photo of the tiger lily buds when we spotted this snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis) on the Verbena bonariensis. I didn’t really have great light for taking pictures of a moth on the wing (and these rarely land, preferring to hover). But this one turned out pretty well, I think.
Polites peckius (Peck’s Skipper)
The skippers are here in their great numbers. They aren’t flashy like the swallowtails and they don’t buzz like the bees, but they are everywhere. They especially like the black-eyed Susan flowers (as seen here) and the Verbena bonariensis but they can also be seen on other plants. This is, I believe, a Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius), also known as the yellow patch or yellow spotted skipper. The larvae feed on grasses while the adults take nectar from flowers. They are widespread across much of North America.
Monarch on Butterfly Weed
The monarch (Danaus plexippus) is one of the prettiest butterflies we get. They don’t show up in nearly as great numbers as do the tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) and maybe that’s what makes their appearance more exciting. This one was on a tender butterfly weed (Asclepias curassavica) that it in a container on our back patio. I took this one photo from the lawn side of the patio before trying to get around to the other side. Just as well because it flew off after that and I got no more. I did take some more photos of the tiger swallowtails but I’m sure I’ll get more of them this summer.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asclepias, Asclepias curassavica, Butterfly, Danaus, Danaus plexippus, Insect, Insecta, Lepidoptera, Monarch, Summer
Oncometopia orbona (Broad-headed Sharpshooter)
I took some photos of flowers today as well as a few of tiger swallowtails. But then I saw this little insect. It’s a leafhopper and they aren’t very big. I got two decent photos of it, one with the head and eyes in focus (this one) and the other with the body in focus but the head blurred. Nevertheless, it was enough to let it be identified as a Broad-headed Sharpshooter (Oncometopia orbona). There are four species of Oncometopia in the U.S.A. but this is the only one that’s known to be present here, so I’m pretty sure that’s right. It’s a pretty little critter.
Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
We have a lot of tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) in our yard. The particularly like the butterfly bush (Buddleia) but we see them on other flowers, as well. They are often quite ragged, with torn wings and sometimes with less than half remaining. Nevertheless, they seem to get around alright. Most of them are the standard yellow striped with black but we have a significant number of the dark form, which is restricted to females of the species. This is a pretty nice one, with her wings mostly intact. As you can see, she is on a tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis).
I’m not actually 100% sure of the identification of this sulphur. It may be an orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) but it’s hard to tell for sure from the underside of the wings. It’s a sulphur, anyway, subfamily Coliadinae. I’ve had a hard time getting a good photograph of one, as they are quite shy and often don’t land when I’m near by. So, I was pleased to get this photo and a few others today. It’s a pretty little butterfly and I love seeing them on the flowers in the yard.
Calycopis cecrops (Red-banded Hairstreak)
This is a pretty little butterfly that I don’t see too often in our yard. It is, I believe, a red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops). It was moving about amongst the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) and that made it hard to get a clear photo of it, but this one turned out pretty well. The hairstreaks are a subfamily (and considered as a tribe) under the Lycaenidae, the Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks, and Harvesters. They are smallish butterflies and their “eye spots” at the far end of their hind wings presumably fool prediters into thinking that’s their head enough to improve their chance of survival.
Megachile sculpturalis (Sculptured Resin Bee)
I’m pretty sure this is a sculptured resin bee (Megachile sculpturalis), a fairly common, solitary bee in the Megachilidae family (the leafcutter, mason, and resin bees, and allies). We see them on a variety of flowers in our yard. This one is on the Verbena bonariensis (tall verbena or Brazilian vervain) and that seems to be a favorite for these bees. Like most bees, they are not at all agresive and much more likely to fly away from you than bother you in any way. I think they’re quite pretty, with their furry thorax and sculptured abdomen.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Bee, Hymenoptera, Insect, Insecta, Megachile, Megachile sculpturalis, Resin Bee, Sculptured Resin Bee, Verbena, Verbena bonariensis
I noticed this bright green katydid nymph on the canna lily this morning. It is one of the Scudderia species. It let me get pretty close, as you can see and it actually stayed there for a few days and ate a good amount of the petals on this flower. Generally I’m not a fan of flower-eating insects but this one was pretty enough and eating slowly enough that I let it be. I like the green against the orange of the petals and even though it’s a small thing, I could see it clearly from our kitchen door, which was nice.
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
I’m pretty sure this is a spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus). There are three dark swallowtails that we see somewhat regularly. Most of them are dark form females of the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). This is, in my experience, the second most common. Then there are the black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes). They all look pretty similar and they all have a bit of variation in their coloration. Since I’m really not an expert, I could be wrong about this one. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a pretty butterfly, in any case, and is enjoying the blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica ) in our front garden.
Monobia quadridens (Four-toothed Mason Wasp)
The mountain mint is really buzzing these days. The height of summer is really great for seeing bees and wasps and I really enjoy seeing them in the afternoon. The sun beating down it a bit much so I can only take it for short stretches but it’s worth it to see the variety of stinging things buzzing around. This is, I believe, a four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens). The larvae feed on leaf-rolling caterpillars so are generally considered good to have around. Their sting is something you want to avoid but like most hornets and wasps, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.
Pollinator on Helenium
This little bee is absolutely loaded with pollen. (Side question: if pollen is spelled with an ‘e’, why does pollinator have an ‘i’ in its place?) Anyway, Cathy and I went to Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon and walked around a pond and through the woods. In addition to this little bee, I got a pretty good photo of a common whitetail (Plathemis lydia), a fairly common dragonfly. But I thought I’d go with the bright yellow of this photo instead. I’m also partial to bees, of course.
We went to Northern Virginia this evening to have dinner with our good friend, Jean. While we were there, eating in her car port, there was a huge downpour followed by a rainbow. It was actually really nice to be sitting outside but under cover during that. Then, I happened to spot this moth, which landed on the gate to the back yard. It’s a moth in the genus Xanthotype. There are five species in our area but, according to BugGuide, “adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another” so we’ll just leave it at that.
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus (Goldenrod Soldier Beetle)
This goldenrod soldier beetle, (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) is well camouflaged against the petals of the black-eyed Susan in our back yard. Often when looking for insects, it’s a matter of looking for motion, because they blend in so well with the background. I spotted this on after taking a few photos of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), also on the black-eyed Susans. They are starting to fade, but there will still be plenty of color for a while yet. One interesting thing about this beetle is that the species epithet, pensylvanicus, is the correct spelling and the version with a double n (i.e. pennsylvanicus) is incorrect.
Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-spotted Purple)
We took an outing today to Rocklands Farm and Winery and had a lovely visit with Janis. She and Anna took us to see Anna’s flowers and then we circled back around behind the winery. The grape must that had spilled on the ground outside the work area had attracted quite a few butterflies, including this red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax). To me, it looks more like an orange-spotted blue, but what do I know. Their colors are a bit variable, anyway. Nevertheless, this is a pretty distinctive butterfly and always a treat to see.
Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Spotted Cucumber Beetle)
I was down on the ground taking some photos of a skipper on some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) when I noticed this spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) just to my right. I got a handful of photos of it before it flew away and I actually got a fairly good one of it just taking off. I think this is a better picture, overall, though, so I thought I’d use it. This is a destructive insect and really I should have squashed it, but it flew away before I had the chance. They do significant damage to many field crops “including cucumbers and other squashes, corn, soy.”
Monarch Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)
We have some white swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’) in a frequently wet part of the lawn. It bloomed for a nice, ling time this summer and as it gets more established I expect it to do even better. Yesterday Cathy noticed a caterpillar on it and I took some photos. I took a few more today. This is a monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus). Although I generally don’t encourage insects that eat the leaves on our plants, I make an exception for these little guys. We really enjoy the monarchs in our yard and so we put up with the feeding habits of their young.
Paper Wasp (Polistes Sp.)
I’m not at all sure what this wasp is but I’m going to guess it’s a Polistes species, possibly P. fuscatus, the northern paper wasp. I like this head-on shot, although I’d like to have a bit more depth of field. The wasps and bees were thick in the mountain mint and buddleia this afternoon. Autumn is arriving, though, and it’s been cooler, so the insects are not quite so nemerous except in the heat of mid-day. I also got a few pictures of a beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus).
Underneath one of the buddleias in our back garden I found the remains of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Just last Friday I had photos of a monarch caterpillar (see Friday, September 11). This is the other end of the life cycle, the death of an adult butterfly. Monarchs are quite widespread, being found throughout much of North and South America (and apparently have been introduced in Australia). The color on the wings of a butterfly are made up of very small scales. In the full size version of this image, they are visible, especially in the orange areas.
Honey Bee on Aster
Cathy and I took a walk along Croyden Creek early this afternoon. It has turned cool, although with the humidity in the woods and the steep nature of the trail, I was fairly warm. It was nice to get out, of course, and we only saw a few other people. We walked from the Croyden Creek Nature Center down stream almost to where it joins Rock Creek. Coming back, we turned up a side valley and came out between the two main parts of Rockville Cemetery. Back and the nature center, I took this photo of a western honey bee (Apis mellifera) on an aster of some sort.
Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
I’ve posted photos of painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) before, but not this year. Each of the others show the underside of the wings, which are often folded up when the butterfly is on a flower. I spent quite a while following this one around and managed to get a pretty good shot of the upper wing surface. It’s a pretty, mid-sized butterfly that’s found in five of the seven continents (all but South America and Antarctica). This is the first I’ve seen this year, so I was excited to be able to get some good pictures.
Harmonia axyridis (Asian Lady Beetle)
I went out this morning to bring the recycle bins back from the curb and happened to notice this little Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) on the hood of my car. So, it’s not a terribly natural setting and I’ve have loved to be able to photograph it on a flower or something, but I’m keeping it real and telling it like it is (or was). These are quite common in our area and can be found pretty much throughout the United States and southern Canada. They are native to eastern Asia from the Altai Mountains to the east coast and Japan. Their spot pattern and colors are extremely variable, including the black spots on an orange base, as seen here, but also black on red, red, orange, or yellow on black, and even solid with no spots.
Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral)
This is the first red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) I’ve seen in the yard this year. It’s wings are pretty ragged but it was fluttering around well enough. We’re seeing fewer butterflies lately, now that it’s cooled off so much, but once in a while we get a treat like this. This one is resting on a rose trellis on the end of our house that used to have a huge, climbing rose on it. That rose died to the ground a while back but it’s finally starting to get up onto the trellis again. Hopefully in a few more years it will be back to its former glory.
The red admiral is cousin to the painted lady (Vanessa cardui) whose picture I posted just over a week ago.
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
The late afternoon sun was shining on the hawthorn berries and I took some pictures of them before spotting this monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) flitting around the tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis). She flew off for a while but I waited and she came back and I was able to get some pretty nice photos. I figured I can get pictures of the hawthorn again tomorrow. The butterflies are getting to be fewer and fewer, so I want to capture them while I can. We’ve had a pretty steady presence of monarchs this summer, although rarely more than one at a time. This one is in particularly fine shape.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Butterfly, Danaus, Danaus plexippus, Insect, Insecta, Lepidoptera, Monarch, Tall Verbena, Verbena, Verbena bonariensis
Junonia coenia (Common Buckeye)
Just a few days ago I mentioned that we were seeing fewer butterflies in the garden. Then I saw and photographed a painted lady (Vanessa cardui), a red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), a monarch (Danaus plexippus), and today a common buckeye (Junonia coenia), all within just over two weeks. So, the summer is going out strong in terms of butterflies. The common buckeye is not particularly rare here, but we haven’t seen a lot of them this year. It’s a pretty butterfly and quite distinctively marked. Like the recently photographed painted lady and monarch, this one is on the Verbena bonariensis.
I’m not sure how well this will show up unless it’s viewed on a largish screen. Anyway, I decided to try taking long exposures to capture the flashing lights of lightning bugs, otherwise known as fireflies. They didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, because when I used a long enough exposure to get a lot of flashes, parts of the picture were so bright that it looked like day time. That was mostly due to electric lights from our neighbors. If I get a chance, I may try to find a darker spot and see what I can do. The trails of lights are generally made by individual insects, flying along flashing as they go.
Tiger Swallowtail on Milkweed
I stopped at the Croyden Creak Nature Center again this afternoon. I took a picture of Joe Pye weed here two weeks ago (see Wednesday, June 16, 2021) and wanted to see if it had started to bloom. It really hadn’t but it’s getting close. I walked around and took a few pictures, anyway, including a few of this eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) enjoying the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). There was also a nice buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) in bloom. It has spherical clusters of tiny flowers that like little pincushions.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asclepias, Asclepias incarnata, Butterfly, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Insect, Insecta, Lepidoptera, Milkweed, Papilio, Papilio glaucus, Swallowtail, Swamp Milkweed, Tiger Swallowtail
Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Spotted Cucumber Beetle)
Cathy’s brother arrived from the Chicago area today and in the evening we all went to the Agricultural Farm Park. In the dahlia garden, we spotted this spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) on a beautiful magenta dahlia. It’s not peak season for the dahlias quite yet, but there are enough blooms to make it worth visiting, if you’re in the area. The demonstration garden ‘next door’ is in fine fettle and also worth walking through. It’s in a lot better shape this summer than last year, when I suspect getting people to work on it was a bit harder.