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Vine Wasps Continued

Eumenes potter wasp. Remarkably, even with this striking pattern, can’t get this one down to species. And that’s a wasp curator on iNaturalist talking.
Leucospis affinis, a parasite of mason bees.
Note that she carries her ovipositor flipped up and across her back. I’ve never seen this before.
This is an impressive appendage, which can drill through 7mm of plant material (or cardboard, for those who set up mason bee nest sites).
And look at these massive hind legs!

Vine Wasps

Back to this one block stretch of 7th Avenue, were the yellow trumpet vine is in bloom. The variety of wasps crawling all over the buds sucking up sweet nectar was most impressive:
European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula), all over the place as usual. Remember, orange antennae are unique for this species in the pantheon of yellow and black “jackets.”
Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons).
German Yellowjacket (Vespula germanica).
Two views of a Widow Yellowjacket (Vespula vidua). First time I’ve come across any of these.
Common Aerial Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria). Another first for me. Trumpet vine brings all the wasps to the yard…
Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata).
Bald-faced and European Paper butting antennae.
Eastern Cicada-killer Wasp.
Four-toothed Mason Wasp.
Rusty Spider Wasp. Better view from a few years ago.

Two Elegant Grass-carrying Wasps.

More, yes more, tomorrow.

Raptor Wednesday

Screeching Blue Jays and Northern Mockingbirds pulled me off my route. They were yelling at this young Red-tailed Hawk. The Mockingbirds were clipping the raptor’s back as they dived at it. When the buteo flew, two Mockingbirds followed.

It looks like there are Cooper’s Hawk fledglings in Prospect Park again this year. (That’ll make for two years I haven’t seen them!)

Here in American Kestrel land, the profusion of colorful falcons at the beginning of the month has dwindled down to the occasional flyby or call. How many of the young survived remains an unknown question. Mortality is high during the first year. And those that do survive are sent packing to other territories.

More than 150,000 now dead from coronavirus in the U.S. An ideology opposed to community, society, and shared effort did this. Politicians against competence, rationality, and humanity did this — and continue to do it. The fault lies at the maggot-ridden top, with Trump, that piece of orange-colored shit too stupid and venal, too lazy and vicious, to care. It will be his “greatest” legacy.

Seventh and Vine

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is in bloom. Look out! In addition to caveats about the plant growing like Topsy, gardening literature notes that this is a great attractant for hummingbirds. I wonder if this holds true for this yellow-flowered variation?

We’re not rich in breeding hummingbirds here in Brooklyn. But we have a few insects. And were they happy this weekend! There’s a sprawling stand of these trumpets growing on the southwestern border of Green-Wood, where a short, orphaned bit of 7th Avenue exists between the cemetery and the MTA’s train yard.

Lots of pollinators were at work here this weekend. Some were squeezing into the barely opened flowers, others bustling into the wide open ones.
The vine also has extrafloral nectaries. Essentially, this means the plant is a magnet for insects wanting a nectar-high. There were also all sorts of wasps and flies slurping up nectar from the flower buds, even the developing seed pods. I’ll have more details soon.

Aigrettes of Wrath

A Great Egret grooming.
And loosing its long breeding plumes.
People used to kill for these things. Game Warden Guy Bradley, for one, was gunned down by feather-hunters in 1905 in Florida. (The late Peter Matthiesen’s Shadow Country trilogy is a harrowing view of Florida’s psychopathic history.)
The plumes, called aigrettes, were used to decorate ladies’ hats.
I suppose they could have gathered them after breeding season, when birds lose their breeding plumage, but instead they killed everything that moved, condemning the year’s young to starvation. Aren’t people lovely? Of course, we put a stop to that, so there’s that loveliness, too: it’s now illegal to possess bird feathers (and eggs, nests, actual birds) etc.


A jumping spider amongst the leaflets of a hickory.
I thought this big, bold specimen would just sing out its species identification, but no. You got me.
Turns out there’s a good bit of variation within some spider species.

R for Robin

Flying Now

Swift Feather-legged Fly.
Common Whitetail female.
Red-spotted Admiral.
Nessus Moth.
Or rather, flying things, since it’s hard to get a good picture of insects in flight. We can try, though. Dusky-winged Hover Fly.
Spot-winged Glider — the spot on the hindwing is sometimes even subtler.
Cuckoo leafcutter bee.
Meanwhile, an Asian Tiger Mosquito attempts to draw blood through leather boot, and sock, and skin. Nice try, lady.

National Moth Week: Polyphemus

A one centimeter-long instar of the Polyphemus Moth on a white oak leaf in Green-Wood.
It’ll get bigger…the final instar can be 6cm long (about 2.5″).
If this survives all the vicissitudes, it will pupate and return next year as a large moth.

Found last winter: I think these are all Polyphemus cocoons.
From this summer: an egg.

Willow, white oak, and swamp white oak have been where I’ve found all these life stages.

Check out this time-lapse of a Monarch caterpillar pupating. The pupal casing is internal which is not something I understood until now.

Ok, but how does a Polyphemus larva wrap itself in leaves on the way to pupation?

Roof Crow

A Fish Crow, identified by its vocalizations, patrolling neighboring roofs. For bugs.
Crunchy snacks.
I believe the prey here is a Common Green June Beetle.
Seemed to already dead up there. Crow was scavenging and found several tidbits.


Two years ago, Laughing Gulls were swarming over a bunch of these same beetles at Bush Terminal Park.

American Kestrels eat these beetles, too.


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