Posts Tagged 'Bronx'

Insects

Harmonia axyridis, the Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle, is known in the UK as the Harlequin Lady Beetle. “Harlequin” is a better common name than MALB, which is a mouthful and has a whiff of racial baggage to it, particularly when added to invasive. This one was one of two spotted in Denmark, the only lady bugs seen on this trip. The Swedes, meanwhile, really seem to like their spiders. There were many webbing the inn we stayed in. There were more than a few indoors. All fine with me. And here’s a neighbor in the Bronx, on a window-spanning web right in front of a fan blowing out. Has been hanging out for more than a month now. One of the biggest orb weavers I’ve ever seen, a good 2″ from toe to toe. Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) back in Brooklyn. First time I’ve noticed the red tongue.

The Butterfly International

Was it my imagination or where the (Red) Admirals in Sweden redder? Vanessa atalanta is found all around the northern hemisphere and is often the last butterfly seen flying in the fall.This birch sap leak was attracting them all at the edge of the ljung (heath).

We also saw our old friend the Cabbage White in its native continent, too. But it paid to look closer: this one on inspection turned out to be Pieris napi, the Green-Veined White, Rapsfjäril.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx…This Monarch was having some trouble, dragging her wings like a wet prom dress. She didn’t seem to be able to fly and was crawling around the leaves as a wasp harried her. The wasp actually took off a piece of wet, damaged wing.Nearby, a caterpillar was at the start of pupation. Also in the NYBG, this Calastrina genus blue was quite obsessed with a small bird turd, coming back to it repeatedly and allowing me to get my phone in its face. One of the “Spring Azure” complex, rather late in the year?Green-Wood, meanwhile, was busy with Painted Ladies and several other species, including this skipper slurping up some nectar. And a Monarch caterpillar was still growing strong.

Winter Memories, With Spring and Fall Not Far Behind

Ok, this last one was in May…

Alas, I have no pictures of Swedish owls. In coming days I will be posting about our adventures in southwestern Sweden on a Wings Birding tour with a wonderful guide named Evan Obercian. We looked for a Tawny Owl that had been heard around a church in Malmö. No luck.

A local man — who turned out to be related to the fellow who reported the owl two nights previously — walking a Shar-Pei asked if we had heard about the Eagle Owls in an abandoned limestone quarry nearby. He basically pshawed when someone mentioned the Great Horned, for the Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo bubo) is the largest owl in the world. You bet we hotfooted it off in search of the berguv. Evan told us that the species has taken up residence in Sweden in relatively recent times, almost always in quarries, which can provide the cliff-side nesting spots they like so much.

Well, long story short, as the sun set we found the pipe the birds were known to use, but saw not a feather (unless you count those being plucked in mid-air by a Hobby disemboweling a song bird). Thus it often is with owls. But, as Evan noted, the owls were probably watching us…

Current Lepidoptera

And even more butterflies. This is a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). Mostly southern, but makes forays as far north as New England. First spotting of this species for me, in Green-Wood.Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar. This is the one that gets on your parsley; the earlier instars or stages are black with a white splotch in the center, making them look somewhat like bird turds. Behind a fence on a lot in Red Hook, where several Killdeer, a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a Semipalmated Plover were patrolling the mud of a stalled development project. Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) on a sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights.And another, this time in Coffey Park, winking its wings in some sun-spotted shade.A Red-baned Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) found with swarms of bees and wasps on a non-native aralia at the NYBG. This is another mostly southeastern butterfly species that strays up into our parts (but I supposed all these reference books are old; planetary warming means species are moving north.Same pollination frenzy. This Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) looks species-perfect on the outside, except for some ragged edges to the wings.But looks rather like an “intergrade” between Red-spotted and its co-specific White Admiral, which is generally found further north (I’ve never seen one). Here’s another I spotted some years ago in Prospect with more purple.

Sceliphron caementarium

What the well-dressed mud-daubing wasp is wearing: black and yellow.The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber builds a mud nest. Trypoxylon politum, the Pipe Organ Mud Dauber, is almost all black and builds pipe organ-like nests.Here’s another gathering mud. Her left antenna is broken off. She does not seem to get much mud per trip. This must make for a lot of back and forth! It helps if the nest is nearby. This particular wasp flew off faster than I could follow. But another nearby (this is damn good mud!) flew fifteen feet away from the murky pond. The rusting iron cap on the urn on the left shelters her nest. The metal juts out on this side, making for a wasp-sized passage. She’ll seal up her eggs in mud cells in there, along with the entombed paralyzed spiders she has provisioned the larval wasps with. The specific epithet caementarium means mason, or builder of mud walls. Some years back, I had one of their nests in my old Cobble Hill backyard.

Franklinia

A late summer bloom. Isn’t the flower rather reminiscent of a camellia? In fact, the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) is in the same family, Theaceae, as the camellias, along with as its fellow natives Stewartia and Gordonia.. But this North American native is presumed extinct in the wild; it hasn’t been spotted since the early 19th century.This one is in the NYBG’s Native Garden. All known living specimens today are presumed to be ancestors of the seeds collected by Willian Bertram in 1773. He and his father John found them a few years earlier on a not very large tract on the Altamaha River*. It’s still not known why they disappeared in the wild. Was it climate change, over-harvesting by collectors, or the introduction by a pathogen via the cotton production that took over the region?

William Bertram wrote about “This very curious tree”: “we never saw it grow in any other place, nor have I ever seen it growing wild, in all my travels, from Pennsylvania to Point Coupe, on the banks of the Mississippi, which must be allowed a very singular and unaccountable circumstance; at this place there are two or three acres of ground where it grows plentifully.”

*Somewhere in its wending way, the Altamaha lost the extra “a” of Bartram’s day.

Muskrat Dusk

This is how I first noticed this young Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) in the Bronx recently. What, I asked myself, was that? The critter, the size of a small cat, was quite unconcerned about me, although when a human father and son, who chose not to follow my example, got too close it scurried away. But it soon returned when these bothers were out of the way.The animal ate and ate and ate in a small patch, circling around, finally revealing the long rat-like tail. Most Muskrat food is aquatic vegetation, with occasional forays into freshwater clams. But clearly they have a taste for terrestrial greens, too.Thoreau, who called them musquash, had a special affinity for them. I can see why. I stood watching for a good half hour after 5pm. Another, larger specimen emerged on the short, sloping bank by the water but didn’t come into the grazing field, perhaps being wiser than the youngster.The famous tail, the source of the “rat” in “Muskrat.” Works as a fine powered rudder in the water. They are rodents, but not Rattus rats; they’re actually the sole member of their genus. They’ve been introduced to Europe and South America, both to invasive effect. Right here is where they belong.


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