Posts Tagged 'beetles'

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?
*

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.

Ladybugs

The first four photographs were all from on the same patch of milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca), not yet in bloom but already festooned with aphids.Multicolored Asian, Harmonia axyridis. There were several.
Checkerspot, Propylea quatuordecimpunctata. The only one noticed.
Two-spotted, Adalia bipunctata. Counted four. Getting busy and laying eggs. This is one of two egg clusters on the underside of different leaves of the same plant.I also found some Two-Spotted in Greenpoint. There were more Multicolored Asian LBs as well there. Then I hit the MALB jackpot at Bush Terminal Park, where there were quite a few on an expanding patch of mugwort (there’s an epic battled between mugwort and cottonwood there). There was at least one Seven-spotted (Coccinella septempunctata) at BTP as well.

Bipunctata in Sunset Park

Two-spotted Ladybug (Adalia bipunctata). Back in 2012, I reported to the Lost Ladybug Project that I found some of these critters in catalpa trees in Brooklyn Bridge Park. From the LLP, I learned that mine was the third New York State record for this species, and the only one in NYC. There was much rejoicing.Yesterday, I found them down the street, in some street tree swamp white oaks (Q. bicolor) on 5th Avenue here in Sunset Park. These trees are still young enough that I can reach into their leaves and branches. The invasive Harmonia axyridis like these same trees.

There is some color variation in the Adalias, as you can see (and the black ones have four spots…). Like many a living insect, these lady beetles are hard to photograph. They also seem to have a loose grip on the leaves; they’ll often fall off if I touch the leaf intending to turn it toward the camera, but luckily they can fly. Not so the larval stage of the species; these gator-like forms have a good grip and steady jaws.

Atalantycha bilineata

Two-lined Leather-wing, also known as Two-lined Cantharid. One of the soldier beetles. This is one of the earliest Cantharids to emerge in the spring, evidently. Found from Nova Scotia on down. This one spotted in Virginia three weeks ago, where/when not too much else was flying.

According to Wikipedia, soldier beetles (Cantharidae) were called such because one of the first described had the colors of a British Redcoat.


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