Posts Tagged 'insects'

Diggers

Scolia dubiaScolia dubiaDigger wasps (Scolia dubia) hide their lights under their dark blue-black wings. Scolia dubia“Blue-winged Wasp” is another common name for them.IMG_3774A bunch of these were looping over a strip of dirt on the edge of First Avenue at 41st, rather industrial ground for natural history, except for the feral cats and Paulownia and Ailanthus trees. But as is so often the case, the barrenness of the urban setting is deceiving. The wasps were hunting for grubs — of Japanese beetles, May and June bugs, etc. — beneath the surface, which they burrow after to sting and lay their eggs on. When not on the hunt for fresh grub meat for the next generation, they gather nectar for themselves, as this example (pics 2 & 3) in Green-Wood.

Ant Farm

antsAnts herding a flock of aphids. The ants protect the aphids from other predators and harvest the aphids’ sweet honeydew for themselves. The aphids go about their business sucking plant juices. Just another day in Brooklyn.

Bombus

BombusBombusThis large, handsome bumble bee was thoroughly probing the Hostas in Green-Wood. BombusNow, I find bumblebee identification difficult. There are four or five species that have yellow abdomen, and none of them are commonly seen here. I narrowed it down to Bombus pensylvanicus or B. borealis (but we are a bit south of its range) or B. fervidus.

The Xerces Society’s pdf “Bumble Bees of the Eastern U.S.“, for instance, assumes you have a specimen under a microscope. “Midleg basitarus with distal posterior corner sharply pointed” runs a typical line. I have a field guide… uh, somewhere, so that’s no help. Finally, I submitted one of these pictures to Bugguide.net: and the verdict was Bombus fervidus, Great Northern Bumble Bee.

Webworm Parent

Atteva aureaThe Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea) is distinctive. For one thing, it was working in daylight and most moths are nocturnal. Also, with its small wings tightly rolled, it doesn’t look like your typical moth; it’s one of the ermine moths. Its nominal host plant, Ailanthus (The Tree that Grows on Roofs), is originally from Asia, but this species is native to southern Florida and the Caribbean. There it originally fed (in its caterpillar stage) on Paradise Trees (Simarouba glauca). Somewhere along the way, it jumped to Ailanthus and spread north.

A Better Way To Plant

Green-WoodThis patch of native meadow in Green-Wood Cemetery was a revelation on a recent afternoon when it was absolutely pulsing with life as numerous species of butterflies, dragonflies, bees, wasps, and beetles gathered pollen and nectar and munched on plants and each other. Green-WoodI gather it’s an experiment. I hope it thrives, and that those burying their dead here and elsewhere see the relevance and importance of such landscaping and start demanding it. The old-fashioned lawn of a cemetery is no more conducive to life than a suburban lawn and comes from a similar era and ideology. But if you do decide to go the burial route, forest burial and meadow burial should be options for an age with much more concern for ecology and fostering habitats. Sure, direct access to a tombstone is made more difficult, if not impossible, in this kind of situation, for relatives. So I assume that family members had to give permission for this, if there were still any on record for this crowd. And yet what a beautiful thing to visit: flowers in bloom through the summer, grasses heavy with seed in the fall, winter’s stubby potential. While we were there, the animals were buzzing as a breeze blew up the Harbor Hill Moraine and cicadas and Mockingbirds staked out their territory.
meadowSuch a difference from the fake flowers often stuck in front of graves. meadowmeadow7

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Diabrotica undecimpunctataDiabrotica undecimpunctata on Liatris.

Meadowview

monarch


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