Posts Tagged 'beetles'

Nine-Spotted Lady Beetles

Do you remember when the Flatbush Gardener released Nine-spotted Lady Beetle larvae in his native meadow garden? Coccinella novemnotata is the New York State insect, but it is almost non-existent now in the state. In fact, the species is hardly to be found anywhere in the east. Cornell’s Lost Ladybug Project has been working to both document and re-introduce the species, which may be endangered by all the god-damned invasive lady beetles introduced by people thinking they’re doing a good thing.Anyway, no sign of that original release in 2016 were ever seen again. This week, FG tried again, this time with both adults and larvae. (Same plump larva under flash above and natural lighting, below.)
How will they fare? Some neighbors are receiving them too, to spread the wealth up and down the block. This is a unique part of Brooklyn, with substantial houses on suburban-style lots. It’s good and tree-y, but has an awful lot of lawn, which is habitat for very little. Flatbush’s all-native species yard, front and back, really stands out, but there is some creeping diffusion of his model nearby.
There were very robust specimens, packed with aphids. In both senses: the containers — available here — come with food for the little beetles, and they evidently eagerly partake of said food. Yum, aphids!It was very drizzly-misty that evening, rather more than a mizzle at some points. The adult beetles quickly tucked themselves out of the way under leaves.
Good luck, little ones!

Serious Moonlight

As part of the Macaulay Honors College Bioblitz in Green-Wood this weekend, I got to go inside the cemetery after dark.

Under a gravid Moon, Chimney Swifts scoured the air. A trio of ultraviolet moth stations were set up around the Crescent and Dell Waters. After sunset, two Common Nighthawks flew into view amidst the continuing Swifts. I wondered what the bright planet to the port of the Moon was. I put my 10x42s up… was that a line of moons? Jupiter! Luckily, one of our party had a scope. Yes: it was three of the four Galilean moons aligned around the mighty gas giant. Dragonflies continued to cruise over the water as it darkened. Two bats appeared.

The first insects to land on the sheets were midges large and small.

Some moth bait — in this case a concoction of frozen fruits, banana, and beer — painted onto trees pulled in a couple of Japanese Burrowing Crickets.
Long-necked Seed Bug.
May beetle. Note the three-fingered antenna.
At least a dozen Ailanthus Webworm moths showed up. (It’s so much easier to shoot in daylight that I’m going to cheat on this one.)
Also a plume moth.

And yes, other moths, but they shall have to wait until tomorrow or else this post will be entirely too long…

Fireflies!

Fireflies retreat during the day, tucking themselves out of the way. The common Photinus seems to prefer the underside of leaves. Not sure which species this is, but it’s a tree-hugger. There were fourteen of them on this part of an old oak’s trunk.

Fireflies are another family of insects that are in decline. The decline is uneven. Here in Brooklyn, it certainly seems like a pretty good year for these night-blinkers. I was so heartened to hear some kids yelling “Fireflies!” in the neighboring park recently. There are several dead ones in the foyer and even in the stairwell of our building. But these, of course, are all anecdotal observations — my comparisons are with scant years, so a slightly better year seems marvelous. The fish I caught this year is the biggest I’ve ever seen! Yet the historical record shows how much bigger they regularly were in years past. Shifting baselines.
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Various Insects

Polished Lady Beetle. The gloss on these things! You can see the trees overhead reflected in the elytra*.Red-banded Leafhopper. You must get close to this little one to see this wild pattern.Invasive European Wool Carder Bee. They hover very much like flies and are quite territorial. All over now, they were first detected in New York in 1963.Oleander Aphids.So many wasps, so little time!A Least Skipper, first one I’ve seen. In the marsh area of Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park. *Beetle forewings have evolved into hardened coverings for their hindwings. These coverings are called elytra. Elytron is the singular. On this firefly they are opening in preparation for flight……beetles are not the greatest fliers in the insect world.

Speaking of flying: hot off the scientific press is news that captive-raised Monarch Butterflies don’t know how to migrate. Here’s another abstract.

Isn’t Monarch-raising rampant in schools? Who will tell the teachers? What about other butterflies and moths? Hobbyists are mentioned, too, since in-door raising of wild-caught Monarchs also results in the loss of the ability to orient south. But not all butterflies and moths are migratory… yet the study found that commercial Monarchs have differently shaped forewings than wild ones.

To market, to market; it is devouring the world.

I looked up the National Association of Biology Teachers… and noticed that one of its funders is Monsanto. The Octopus surrounds us.

Insects Update

A couple of American Snouts. Um, yes, that’s their rather descriptive common name. Libytheana carinenta is a lot more common south and west — I’ve seen them before in Texas. Their larval food plant is hackberry. There were three mature hackberries above this understory. What an illustration of the relationship between plant and animal! I first thought this tiny beetle was a lady bug of some kind. But some searching of the usual suspects came up with nothing similar. I started to look closer: those antenna are too long for a lady beetle. With some help from a couple people on iNaturalist, we narrowed this down to Scirtes orbiculatus, one of the marsh beetle (a family I wasn’t even aware of). It doesn’t seem to have a common name. There were at least two on common milkweed.Speaking of milkweed, I caught a glimpse of my first Monarch caterpillar of the year in the same patch. As I was trying to focus:A European Paper Wasp flew in and took the caterpillar down. Yikes! That’s a lot of meat… and so much for milkweed’s toxic latex protection. These wasps will eat the adult butterflies, too. Speaking of eating, this aphid better watch out. Asian Lady Beetle larva in proximity…! Eastern Amberwing dragonflies are out and about. Fairly common, our smallest dragonfly.

Summer

You never know what you’ll see out there. Sure, the frying days of summer make it hard to enjoy the brute sun and humidity, but on Saturday we had a respite from the heat tsunami. So off we wandered down to Bush Terminal Park, where lo and behold! Two amazing (and concurrent) sights/sounds.

 


1. A couple dozen Laughing Gulls were flying low over the recently mown meadow hillock. As we got closer, we realized they were hunting the plentiful Green June Bugs, which were swarming low to the ground. The gulls were snapping the beetles up and swallowing them whole.The beetles rarely paused in flight, but I did catch this one. Note that one of the beetle’s wing isn’t fully tucked under the elytra.

2. As we approached the park, we saw a pair of American Kestrels over the statue of old man Bush (the developer of the docks, in an era before we realized how damn evil developers are). Inside the park, we heard a Killdeer in great agitation on the other side of the fencing that separates the park off from the empty concrete and weed jumble (presumably the site of ugly apartment buildings in the future).

Sure, Killdeer always sound like they’re agitated, but here was extra good reason. That’s a Kestrel there in the background. On the far fence, like these two:There were at least three Kestrels. They made passes over the Killdeer, flushing it into the air. Then the rowdy Killdeer would turn around and chase the Kestrel. A couple of Mockingbirds also harried the Kestrels. When the Kestrels flew further afield towards the June bug fiesta, a Red-wing Blackbird went after them. The Laughing Gulls also chased the falcons, who, we know, also love to eat Green Junies.

Now, a couple of weeks ago, we saw a Killdeer fly into this fenced area and thought, huh, could a pair be nesting in that desolation? Killdeer will nest practically anywhere, often quite close to people. The fence didn’t stop a photographer and model Saturday, and the whole neighborhood is beset with feral cats. And yet, there were three Killdeers visible there Saturday. One definitely looked like a juvenile. We only spotted it after the Kestrels flew off. (Although the falcons came back later). I gathered the noisy adult was trying to lure the falcons away and/or telling the youngster(s) to sit tight.

Team Kestrel was made up of two females and one male. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Were they the #BrooklynKestrels generation? Bush Terminal is five avenue blocks away from the nest (a little more than half a mile).

More Adalia bipunctata

 

This spring, I’ve spotted Two-spotted Ladybugs all over the place in Brooklyn. Down the street. In nearby Green-Wood Cemetery. In Greenpoint. And most recently inside my apartment!

The beetle was on the inside of a window. I captured it by maneuvering a stiff postcard under it — that is, getting it to walk onto the postcard instead of the window — and capping it with my loupe. However, being shy and retiring, it refused to be photographed, so I released it out an open window.

Just a few years ago, Two-spotteds were pretty rare in New York state, after having once been common here. What’s going on? Any chance they’re being released?
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Raptor Wednesday fans: I’m barely seeing any raptors right now. Breeding season and all. Last sighting was a Kestrel on Monday. 6:15 a.m., heard first out the window, seen jetting and stooping over Sunset Park. This was a full ten days since the last, a Peregrine on 6/9. Still doing better than one a day, though: 295 raptor sightings this year.


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