Posts Tagged 'insects'

Fragile Forktails

Ischnura positaA mature female Ischnura posita. Ischnura positaAn immature female. Inch-long damsels, these. Eat more mosquitos, ladies!

Ischnura positaA mature male. The exclamation mark on the shoulder is tell-tale for this species, but it can fade with age.

Hanging the Night

Libellula pulchellaThis Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) was parked just off the path around 730pm, so I think it was roosting for the night. The black markings looked velvety in the light.Libellula pulchellaThis is a mature male. If you counted the white spots, too, he would be a twenty-spotted skimmer. To matters more confusing, this species used to be known as the Ten-spot… can you guess why?

USDA Prime

Harmonia axyridisNot only does the Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis) come in multiple colors, they’re also found with a variable number of spots. Or none at all. That’s me in the reflection of those high-gloss elytra.

(Post title refers to the first release of the species in the U.S., which was done by the USDA. Subsequent releases may have been accidental.)

“As Big As A Lear Jet”

Sphecius speciosusA couple of years ago, I saw Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) tunneling nests in two different tree pits in my neighborhood. One of those pits is again a nesting site. It’s notable on the block because it’s the only pit that has a good expanse of bare soil. This wasp was patrolling one of two tunnels here. I’ve read that several females may cooperate on digging one of the long tunnels.

The species name speciosus is from the Latin for showy or beautiful. True enough, but like many things of beauty, your standard human is afraid of them. The males, like all bees and wasps, don’t have stingers to sting. The females would rather save their sting for cicadas, meat for their young. So chill, and enjoy. My hand is inches from this one.

I’ve heard less than half a dozen cicadas in the last month. It’s only the beginning of August, though, and the Dog Days are just beginning.

Common Green Darner

Anax juniusA male Common Green Darner (Anax junius), one of our largest species of dragonfly. You should really click on the picture for a larger view, since there is some great detail here because this one perched quite a while below eye-level, allowing us all good looks as he rubbed his front legs over his eyes. Note how large those eyes are: dragonflies are like raptors, depending on vision to hunt. A migratory species, this three-inch long darner is usually the first dragonfly seen in the spring and one of the last in the fall (a female is pictured in the link).

Swift Dispatch

Pachydiplax longipennisThis Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) gobbled his fly prey up with startling swiftness.

Gnawy

Dolichovespula maculataBald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) cutting away at the black locust hand-rails at the Native Plant Garden at NYBG.Dolichovespula maculataLook at those mandibles! Several hundred workers in a colony will build up those football-sized nests so beloved by nature bloggers from wood pulp and saliva; it looks like a lot of work, because it doesn’t seem like much wood is taken by each individual wasp:IMG_6113Dolichovespula maculata

Twenty-Spotted

Psyllobora vigintimaculataOn the veldt of my arm, a tiny lady beetle that turned out to be the 20-spotted, Psyllobora vigintimaculata. Found throughout most of the US, barring FL and the SE coast, and into Canada. Unlike most lady bugs, carnivorous-chompers if there ever were any, the Pysllobora genus ladies are fungus-eaters. The “Latin” name of the genus is actually Greek and means “flea [of the} north”. It was awfully small, perhaps 3mm long, the smallest lady beetle I’ve ever seen. Light enough to start crawling up one of my arm hairs. I was sitting by the Hudson River in Battery Park City when I noticed it landing on me. Psyllobora vigintimaculataA handsome example with the orange, black, and white markings. They come in quite a range of variations. (And all, I’ll wager, a challenge to half-century old eyeballs: I took these pictures with the phone)

Breaking: Monarch Sighted in Brooklyn

Danaus plexippusI saw my second Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of the year today. This was my first in Brooklyn; in Brooklyn Bridge Park, feeding on Joe-Pye Weed (Spotted JPW, I believe, Eupatorium maculatum).

As you probably know, we have done quite a number on this spectacular species, through deforestation in Mexico, reducing its food crops further north in the U.S., and poisoning its habitat everywhere; such blows make them even more susceptible to external pressures, like severe weather, in particular the drought in Texas (“external” if you don’t count our carbon-dirty hands in disrupting traditional weather patterns through global warming).

Here are some graphs of the shocking declines and here’s an interview with a biologist whose entire professional career has been about them disappearing. There’s nothing personal, of course, in this drive to extinguish one more species; we’ve done it to the whole planet, and even ourselves.

Can you do anything to keep this remarkable animal, which has a multi-generational, continent-spanning migration, around for your grandchildren? You can plant milkweed, stop the wide-spread poisoning of the environment through herbicides and pesticides, and drive less.. say what? The field-to-field cropping of corn to meet the ethanol demand means that “weedy” edges have been plowed under. We must all change our lives.

Insects of the Weekend

IMG_6273A mess of these sand wasps (Bembicini) were trying to dig into the little beach along the Hudson by Ossining train station. Sand seemed too loose, though, for their nest chambers.harvestmanMoth Night at the Greenbelt Nature Center with the Staten Island Museum on Saturday meant more than moths. This harvestman (Opiliones) has little red mites attached to its legs. Orthosoma brunneumBrown Prionid beetle (Orthosoma brunneum), I think. About 1.25″ long.IMG_6329A camel cricket, family Rhaphidophoridae. Not one of the noise-makers, this tree cricket is a great jumper; we found several on trunks (I rotated this image; the cricket was facing down initially). Its antenna are nearly three times the body length.Epimecis hortariaIt’s National Moth Week, which may be something of a hard sell. Most moths, after all, are modest studies in gray. The showy ones, like the Luna, are few and far between, especially in the city. A white sheet with black lights was set up, as was a trough of “moth bait,” a gooey sludge of banana, booze, and brown sugar allowed to fester in the sun for a while. Both of these attract different species. The Tulip-tree Beauty (Epimecis hortaria) above didn’t come directly to either, but roosted in the area.Lomographia vestaliataWhite Spring Moth (Lomographia vestaliata).moth1Toothed Brown Carpet (Xanthorhoe lacustrata). There are some 12,000 know species of Lepidoptera in the U.S. & Canada; less than 800 of these are butterflies; the rest moths, and I guess they ran out of common names…


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