Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

Sympetrum Meadowhawks

Sympertrum vicinumThe red meadowhawk dragonflies are difficult to identify in the field, since several members of the genus Sympetrum look rather similar.Sympetrum vicinumBut I figured these out because of the legs. These are Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), in some sources called Yellow-legged; other meadowhawks have black legs. They’re small: 1.3″ long. Sympetrum vicinumTheir colors, especially the bright males, rival fall’s leaves.Sympetrum vicinum“Typically the last species on the wing northern climes,” says the Stokes guide, although it was a balmy 80 when I ran into them in Green-Wood this weekend.

Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes Papilio polyxenes

Winged Ones

antsHymenoptera, the insect order that includes the wasps, bees, and ants, are named after their “membrane wings.” But ants don’t have wings, at least not in the colony, where such appendages would get in the way. The reproductives, males and virgin queens, however, do have wings. The queens break their wings off after mating flights and start new colonies. The males, or drones, die off after their work is done. Last week, a subtle glittering in the grass caught my eye. It was this colony all a-flutter.

Pods and Seeds

Asclepias tuberosaButterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa).Asclepias incarnataSwamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).Asclepias syriacaCommon Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).Asclepias syriacaThe seeds of the above.Asclepias syriacaAnother Common, with Milkweed aphids (Aphis nerii) and Variegated Ladybugs (Hippodamia variegata).

O brave new world

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.Acharia stimuleaThe 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.Cisseps fulvicollisYellow-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. Robber FlyAnother 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. Eremnophila aureonotataMating Thread-waisted Wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) at Mt Loretto. I’ve since seen a few solo of the species flying, trailing that long, long waist.Dolichovespula maculataBald-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.Dolichovespula maculataYes, they are at home. No, they are not taking any visitors.

Katydids

OrchelimumThe trees are alive with the sound of music. At night. Katydids and crickets stridulating away, rubbing the pegged “file” of one wing against the ridge-like scraper of the other to produce those clicks, tisps, buzzes, etc. Each species has a distinctive sound: it’s the males marking their territory and calling to the females. Bonus fact: The ears of katydids and crickets are usually located on the foreleg tibia.

You know where our ears are. We’ll hear a great chorus of arthropod fiddlers in Prospect Park tonight on our Night Listening Tour. I haven’t run across many katydids in the light of day, but here’s one, two, and three other examples.

The specimen picture above was spotted on a milkweed leaf. I thought at first it was a grasshopper. Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids are all members of same family, Orthoptera, so there are similarities. What makes this a katydid, however, are the very long antennae and the very long ovipositor (out of focus). I think this one is in the genus Orchelimum, the great meadow katydids, a.k.a. gladiator katydids.

Butterfly Meadow

LorettoThe glorious meadow at Mt. Loretto, a New York State “unique area” at the southern end of Staten Island. (Used to be a lot more like it, of course… SI’s development mirrors the post-war suburban destruction of unique areas.) It was abloom with butterflies recently. Here are a few of the species I saw: Phyciodes tharosPearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos).Cupido comyntasEastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas), in an uncommon open-winged pose.Calycopis cecropsRed-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops). A species I’ve never seen before. This is the northern edge of its range; it is more common in the deep south. The “hairs” off the tail wagged in the air like antennae, and the spot looks vaguely eye-like. It was hard to tell which end was which, probably the point. Cercyonis pegalaCommon Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) was another species I’m not familiar with. Cercyonis pegalaA nice surprise.

Other species: Spicebush Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Tiger Swallowtail, Silver-spotted Skipper (the most numerous), Cabbage White, Monarch (2x), one of the Ladies, and these damn confusing skippers:skipperskipper2skipper3skipper4Two different examples of the same species, I think.

I thought I had a pretty good day, even if I later found a list of the butterflies of Staten Island (Richmond Co.) that had 112 species on it. Sometimes you see the snow leopard, sometimes you don’t. One thing I did see when I pulled my eyes from the butterfly-graced, grasshopper-heaving meadow was a huge, dark bird flying so low and slow that I thought it must be a vulture. But it was a mature Bald Eagle, coasting towards Raritan Bay. A pair nest in the area.


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