By which I mean a chilly morning, according to bumble bee standards. Burly little things, they warm themselves up by muscular action on chilly spring mornings, getting the jump on other pollinators who are smaller and more solar-powered. This looks like a Bombus impatiens, which, for all I know, is how you look on Monday mornings, too.
Posts Tagged 'bees'
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, insects, invertebrates
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, insects, invertebrates, trees
Yesterday morning around 10, it was under 60F and cloudy. The bumblebees were not quite warmed up. Some didn’t move at all, others were quite sluggish. Burly little things, with lots of muscle, which is one of the reasons they are one of the first flying bugs in the spring. They can warm themselves up by disjointing their wings and shaking themselves warm. They were flying by noon, and working the goldenrod. It was a late start to a fall day. I led some enthusiastic BBP volunteers — very enthusiastic, they were volunteering to weed afterwards — around Pier 1, looking for animals. A mouse was unexpected. Northern Flickers kept zooming around; they are passing through now in a crowd, flashing their yellow underwings in undulating flights. The milkweed beetles were in their scrums. A good bit of warbler activity, but mostly after the walk; everybody needed to warm up, it seems.
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, dragonflies, insects, ladybugs, wasps
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s horticulturalist Rebecca McMackin told me recently that she consciously works to create habitat. The proof is in the animals: Spot-winged glider (Pantala hymenaea), a new species for me.
A reader of this blog, in private conversation, noted how the carrion beetle thing yesterday was a little queasy, but I personally find these lady bug larva the most daunting of insect forms. Fast, furious devourers; clearly the model for the thing they put in Pavel Chekov’s ear. Digger wasp (Scolia dubia), another of the blue/black-winged wasps. (I was looking at some crows up close recently and they have a similar blue-purple iridescence.) Very distinctive yellow spots and red hairs on abdomen. About an inch long. Deserves another view:Bumblebee, butt-up in bindweed. (Bindweed is generally freelance habitat, and this was winding up some fencing unbidden by the hard-working staff.)
BBP is now just over two years old. All my BBP posts are here in chronological order.
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, flowers
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, insects, invertebrates, wasps
Last weekend, I visited the Flatbush Gardener’s garden. The highlight was the mountain mint, alive with pollinators. I mean, jumping with pollinators: several species of bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies going at it. Here are a couple of the highlights:
Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus.One of the grass-carrying wasps of genus Isodontia.
Cuckoo bee, Triepeolus lunatus.
Notice the purple markings on the tiny flowers of this mint. I imagine those looks spectacular to those creatures, like these, can can see into the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum.
Thanks to my host Chris for the identifications on these. Check out his Flickr for more shots of the wide, wonderful world of pollinators he’s found in his portion of backyard Brooklyn. (In my next couple of posts, I’ll continue on this hymenoptera kick.)
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, insects, invertebrates, wasps
I took a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park yesterday afternoon. It was very windy, which made photographing flying insects quite a challenge. I saw my first Monarch butterflies of the year, as well as an American Lady. Black Saddlebags dragonfly. Great Northern Bumblebee (amongst a host of small, medium, and large bumblebees I am otherwise unable to figure out). And these, identified with some help from Bugguide.net, with the cavet that a lot of these things are hard to pin down unless they’re pinned down, and at Backyard and Beyond we don’t do that: Genus Megachile, a leaf-cutting bee.
The metallic “sweat bees” of the family Halictidae often only have green heads and thoraxes, like the one below, but the one above was green from top to bottom. Quite a looker.They are called “sweat bees” called because they like human sweat. I’ve never experienced one interested in my sweat.Above and below, sand wasps of the Bembicini tribe. These make shallow nests in sand, and provision their larvae with flies of various kinds. Like many of the wasps that kill for their young, they themselves eat nectar and pollen as adults.
Yes, that’s a greenish tinge to the eyes.
This one was rubbing its limbs busily against the top of this wooden post. Only after looking at the photo did I notice that there are tiny little tags attached to the legs. These are pollinia, pairs of waxy pollen bundles attached by a fiendishly sticky thread, produced by milkweed flowers. Swamp milkweed in this case. Read more about the fascinating milkweeds here. The threads can attach to the mouthparts of some bees.
I ran into someone photographing a Red Admiral. It was my fellow nature blogger Julie, of Urban Wildlife Guide. We both admired all the native plantings and the pollinators they attracted and saluted the hard-working gardening team at the park.
Tags: bees, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, insects, invertebrates
It’s National Pollinator Week. While honeybees get most of the media attention, there are some 250 different species of bees found in New York City. Recently, a new species of sweat bee was named after being discovered in Prospect Park.
Here’s yet another type of local bee. This is a genus Megachile leaf-cutter bee, so named because most of the species in this genus cut leaves or petals with their “big lips” (megachile) or jaws, and use the pieces of plant to line their nests. Note the yellow abdomen, which is distinctive for this genus: that’s actually pollen. She has special hairs, called scopa, on the bottom of her abdomen that she uses to carry the stuff. Most other bees carry pollen in bunches around their legs. The Megachile bees are solitary species.
Tags: bees, beetles, insects, invertebrates, Nantucket, spiders
Ah, summer, season of buzzing and flying and biting! The insects are out in force. OK, there’s really not that much biting, per se. Seen last week on Nantucket: One of the green metallic bees, genus Agapostemon, also known as sweat bees, on chicory flower. Note the big bundles of pollen around the legs.
A small Syrphid fly on one of the wild roses.
Freezing a beetle for a minute or two makes it easier to photograph, but then you get the dead beetle look. (And since only Paul and Ringo are still around…) The bug, one of the long-horned beetles, specifically Strangalia luteicornis, revived.Genus Photinis firefly.The battering of June bugs, genus Phyllophaga, against window screens was a constant of my island youth. They still come towards the lights, the poor bastards. And sometimes they get in. This one promptly fell to the floor on its back, lurched around, and then upwards into the air and was almost immediately caught in spider silk underneath a table. Although the spider was much smaller, it eventually captured what must have been food for a week. The flash here captures the beetle’s elytra, the shell-like coverings of the wings, as well as the wonderfully feathered antennae.
(All my Nantucket posts can be found here.)
Tags: bees, birding, birds, books, insects
“[…] it is often not easy to assign insects to precise categories because there are so many species and their morphological, behavioral, and genetic differences frequently tend to overlap or intergrade. Often the best we can do is estimate degrees of relationship and/or distinctness and assign them to hypothetical groups as information becomes available. As anyone who gardens is well aware, botanists are often found transferring species from one genus to another, changing generic names, or even changing family names, for somewhat obscure reasons. […] it is because the evolutionary relationships of groups of species, genera, and families of plants are obscure and difficult to reconcile. This obscurity arises because organisms, whether plants or animals, are constantly evolving over time and space and are not precisely fixed genetic statues. Every individual organism is prone to variation, which the taxonomist attempts to codify, but the truth is that organisms have no particular regard for those of us who attempt to study them.” ~ Eric Grissell, Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens (Timber Press, 2010).
This is such an important point: it’s hard to pin down a moving target. The epic work of codification by the pioneering taxonomists, or systematists, took place before genetics were unraveled. Much of it was even pre-Darwinwallace. The one thing we probably all learned about species, that they are reproductively isolated, that is, they cannot breed with organisms outside their species, turns out to have been pretty simplistic, and not necessarily so. The fluidity of evolution is an amazing thing. Different species can often interbreed, and produce fertile offspring, but usually don’t because of their physical isolation.
There’s only one recognized Homo species now, but there have been, we think, something like half a dozen others historically; yet just as a H. erectus female didn’t given birth one day to a H. sapiens child, some of us now are probably in the process of becoming a new species (or two or three?). (Evidently, some of them are not going to be able to see for shit.)
In bird-land, the pronunciamentos of the authorities (the American Ornithological Union) come down from on high: last year, they split the winter wren (formerly Troglodytes troglodytes) into Pacific (T. pacificus) and Eastern (T. hiemalis) species; while the Eurasian wren remained T. troglodytes. Meanwhile, the subspecies T. t. icelandicus, which I saw on Iceland, is a darker bird, with a longer bill and longer legs, than the mainland Eurasian. Indeed, for this small species, icelandicus looks like a big bruiser. Might it be split someday, too? Probably. Islands, after all, are intense sites of evolution.
Tags: bees, Brooklyn Bridge Park, dragonflies, insects, invertebrates
Painted skimmer, Libellula semifascianata. (Oh, come now, much more than just semi fascianata!)A ladybug larva demolishing aphids. Perhaps the seven spotted, Coccinella septempunctata. Twice or more as big as the insects below, and a little more lumbering, hence the best shot of the post! This is an Eastern carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, working the swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, like the next two:Wasp-like, especially with that thread-waist, and rather similar to the potter wasps, but this is actually a thick-headed fly, Physoccephala tibialis, a parasitoid whose larvae develop inside the bodies of bumble bees. Parasitoids terminate their hosts. The adults themselves are gentle vegetarians, supping on nectar and pollen.I didn’t post anything for National Pollinator Week this year; luckily, the pollinators work all through the summer. This looks like a leaf-cutter bee, in the family Megachilidae.A flower fly of some kind, family Syrphidae. Note those the big eyes, and the wings: the flies, order Diptera, have a single pair of wings, bees/wasps/ants (Hymenoptera) have two pair of wings that interlock velcro-like in flight: see the leaf-cutter bee above and note how much larger the right “wing” looks — it’s actually two wings merged together.