Posts Tagged 'insects'

View From The Moraine

img_9734A green lacewing (Chrysopidae) paused briefly on the window recently.

Lepidoptera Lowdown

A veritable blizzard of Lepidoptera over a patch of ground-loving Buddleja last week. img_9900Lots of skippers skipping. This is a male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris), I think. img_9898Several sulphurs ever so briefly alighting. This is purported to be a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)… probably: Orange and Clouded can mix it up genetically, so these are hard to differentiate; perhaps the species definition should incorporate them both? One of them had an intense orange to its inner wings. Junonia coeniaA common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) showing a lot of late season wear and tear. A bird attack? Helicoverpa zeaAnd a lone moth, Helicoverpa zea, the Corn Earworm, obviously named for its caterpillar form. Most moths are active at night, which is why this blog is so notably absent in them; also, they’re hard to identify, not least because they are so many of them: there 11,000 species currently recognized in North America. Bugguide.net helped me with this ID. Curiously, this individual was chased by groups of several skippers, as if they really did not want the competition.

Gnatty

gnatThe other evening I walked from Sunset Park to Grand Army Plaza, the last half mile through Prospect Park’s Long Meadow, which was surprisingly empty of the usual clutter of bipeds and canines. As I entered the park at 9th Street, past Layette and groom, I saw the horse-chestnuts and buckeyes anticipating conker-fall, and a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a bare branch of a pine tree surveying the landscape. On the Meadow itself I was infested with storms of tiny flies. They clumped in the air, whirling around themselves. (Above magnified perhaps 3x, along with my own tectonically-crinkly hide.)

They landed on my hands, bare arms, and shirt. Perhaps they fed on my sweat, for it was a devilishly humid sunset and I had zigzagged from 41st to 9th Streets and 5th Avenue to Prospect Park West (9th) in a hurry. What matters is that they did not bite me (I am a mosquito feeding-station.) No, I could have eaten them, like the Common Green Darner I saw plowing through them like an ice-breaker the ice, but I kept my mouth shut.

Monarch II

Danaus plexippus

Danaus plexippus

Danaus plexippus

Beewings

bee1One the Megachile leaf-cutter bees. bee2A nice look at the bee’s fore and hind wings. Hymenoptera, the “membrane-winged” insects (bees, wasps, and ants) and have four wings.

Dragonflies and butterflies would surely agree with the Hymenoptera that four wings are the best, but flies probably wouldn’t. Flies (and mosquitoes) are in the order Diptera (“two-winged”): they have vestigial wing-stubs called halteres which seem to act as stabilizers in flight. Beetles, whose forewings have turned into elytra, or wing-coverings, might disagree too…but then, they’re not known as great fliers, so maybe they wouldn’t.

One Singular Sensation

Danaus plexippusI have not seen a Monarch caterpillar in New York City since 2010. Now, I haven’t been actively surveying for them, but whenever I see milkweed, I do look closer. Danaus plexippusSix years is way, way too long a period to go without. As you probably know, Monarch have taken a severe beating from habitat destruction and climate change. This year is forecast to be another bad year for them. For the adult, butterfly, stage, I rarely see more than one or two a day in season.Danaus plexippusSo even seeing one is heartening. And yesterday I saw precisely one, munching steadily away.Danaus plexippus(These were my phone pictures; I have a few more on my camera which I’ll post in a couple of days.)monInternet comrade Erin out on the other end of this long island has been raising a herd of Monarchs this summer, documenting their stages from egg to chrysalis and beyond. Check out her IG for pictures still and moving.

Question Mark

Polygonia interrogationisThere are two comma or anglewing butterflies of the Polygonia genus we see regularly here in NYC. You can tell them apart when their wings are spread, but it’s subtle.Polygonia interrogationisBut they often perch upright. So the namesake comma mark on the hindwing is the tell-all. Of course, this is hard to see in the field!Polygonia interrogationisThe fabled question mark. You won’t be the first grammarian to say it looks more like a semi-colon.

This example is perched distantly on some Duckweed, in case you are wondering about the curious pebbly-look of the background.


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