Tags: insects, invertebrates, moths, wasps
That has such creatures in’t! These are all new discoveries for me, excepting the last, because there’s one thing the arthropods prove, and that’s ever-new discoveries.The aptly-named named Saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea), about 2cm long. The adult moth is one of the fuzzy indistinguishable brown jobs, but this larval stage form is amazingly unique. The sting from these spines “may be the most potent of any North American caterpillar” says Wagner. The most elaborate caterpillars generally are giving you a warning. Spotted at the Charleston Cemetery, far western Staten Island, and untouched, although I wasn’t aware of the nasty sting at the time.Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) seen in Green-Wood. A day-flyer, gathering nectar amid masses of wasps it vaguely mimics. The image in Peterson’s field guide shows an orange collar and Bugguide.net notes that the vast majority are orange-collared, so the common name is a little less than helpful. Another wasp-like non-wasp. This is one of the robber flies in the family Aslidae. It hunts bees and wasps and was patrolling the path along the Marine Park Salt Marsh trail. It would fly low, land, and stare at me until I got too close, then fly forward to land again and stare back at me. Those whiskers would do a hipster proud. Mating Thread-waisted Wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) at Mt Loretto. I’ve since seen a few solo of the species flying, trailing that long, long waist.Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest in Green-Wood. Their paper nests are usually hiding up in the trees, but recently I’ve seen pictures of them in the grass, and built around the supports of a basketball net.Yes, they are at home. No, they are not taking any visitors.
Tags: Brooklyn, caterpillars, insects, invert, Prospect Park
Yellow Bear caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica), sometimes known as the Yellow Wooly Bear. Compare with one I photographed last year: they come in a great range of colors. According to Wagner, the pale early instars are gregarious, the older instars wonder lonely as a cloud. (I may have hopped-up Wagner’s description a bit.)
I liked this so much, I bought it. Wendy Klemperer‘s Calling Elk, plasma-cut steel, approx. 20 x 20 x 1/8th, 2008. (Sorry about the strange cropping at the nose.)
Tags: beetles, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, insects, ladybugs
The Catalpa trees grow and the big heart-shaped leaves attract aphids, lots of aphids. The aphids, tiny little white sucking machines, coat the leaves with their “dew” — what goes in must come out in some form — which in turn attracts ants and wasps. The aphids themselves attract ladybugs, hungry little beasts. All the dark things on the leaf above are early-stage instars of lady beetle larvae, which look absolutely nothing like the shiny, round adults. This photo and the one below are shot with my camera’s macro through a 10x loupe. The ‘gator-like larval stage ladybug — see the two spots on its side, like the adult Two-spotted — is surrounded by aphids; these aphids are so small they can barely be seen with the naked eye. I don’t know if these are instals of A. bipunctata, but suspect so. I doubt that’s my hair, since I was wearing a hat. This one is so plump I suspect it’s close to pupating.
I have read that some localities ban Catalpas because they are messy trees, dropping foot-long, dried bean-pod-like seed pods, dripping with sticky goo, swarming with insects. But let’s hear it for mess! Nature is messy, complicated, interrelated. It is not a lawn or vast monocultural farm field soaked in poisons, which, as we keep learning over and over again, do tend to move from the insects and plants they are aimed against to fish and reptiles and birds and mammals, including the very people who apply the toxins and the rest of us. Quelle surprise! Luckily, Brooklyn Bridge Park has had the vision to plant Catalpas all over the place. And almost every one of these trees has Two-spotted ladybugs in them. Remember, this is a species that isn’t being seen as much as it used to be. Above and below, Two-spotted pairs are engaged in making more of their kind.Remember, too, that while the standard Adalia bipunctata is red-orange with two black spots, there are melanistic variations that are black with four red spots (or squares as in the side markings here), among other patterns.Here’s what the loupe/camera set up view looks like before cropping. Rest of my left-hand fingers are supporting the leaf from underneath. I’m amazed these came out this well. I wrote most of this post some weeks again, but a cursory look yesterday found three adult TSLs underneath some awfully bedraggled looking Catalpa leaves. Three cheers for bedraggled!
At Pier One, Brooklyn Bridge Park: an adult female Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) perched on some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). It didn’t look like she was laying eggs, but this would be a good place for them. Is it too late for a brood? Is she one of the last generation of this year’s Monarchs, the generation of unusually-long-lived animals who make their epic way to a cloud forest in central Mexico? Is the species recovering from their terrible numbers of last year? Many questions, yes, but also an opportunity just to marvel at this astonishing creature.