Posts Tagged 'insects'

Wasp Ascendency

Cicada-killer, whose name speaks for itself. A husky wasp that provisions its young with paralyzed cicadas, so really it’s the larva who kill the cicadas…Unknown. Possibly one of the Grass-carrying wasps of the genus Isodontia.Another Isodontia, possibly. Members of this genus use grass in the construction of their nests and prey on crickets and other Orthoptera.Humped Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus), a bee predator.Unknown.Four-banded Stink Bug Hunter Wasp (Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus). I didn’t know there were stink bug hunter wasps.One of the Ichneumonn wasps. Says “Ichneumonids are notoriously hard to identify: aside from the sheer number of species, there are numerous cases of distant relatives that appear almost identical. Any identification based solely on comparing images should be treated as suspect unless an expert has said there are no lookalikes for the species or group in question.” Note those leaf galls. Is this wasp an inquiline, a species that takes over other species’ galls for itself? By the way, the parasites themselves may be parasitized by other species.Ah, the old Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens), with Carpenter Bee for scale. This big one hunts caterpillars for its young.

All the wasps on the blog. But wait! Tomorrow there will be a whole series of other wasps lately seen…

Flower Fiends

Bumble/Tiger Swallowtail.A true bug, meaning an insect that sucks its food, and an unknown bee.
Another bee I can’t identify.Don’t forget the butterflies, fools for flowers, too. One of the sulphurs, I’ve never been able to distinguish them.Whoa, Nelly! Look at the patterning on this Oblique Streaktail (Allograpta obliqua)! Going to work on getting a better picture of one of these.Another flower fly, which reminds me that there’s a new field guide to flower flies of the NE.The invasive Sculptured Resin Bee, trouble for carpenter bees, whose nest sites they grab. Also a pollinator for kudzu.An unknown bee, or is it a wasp? Speaking of wasps, I’ll have more this week…

Galls of It All

So it seems we still aren’t quite sure how galls are created. Something irritates a plant; the plant responds by creating a unique growth. The hundreds of species of tiny gall wasps are the best known gall-forcers, but other insects (aphids, mites, others) and some microbial forms do it, too.

But let’s stick with the tiny gall wasps. (This is a simplistic description, go here for more detail.) They lay an egg on the plant’s leaf or stem. The plant responds by growing around the egg or larva which digs into the plant. Each resulting growth, or gall, is unique to the species of gall-making agent that initiates it. It’s a chemical process, a benign hijacking of the plant’s growth. The sphere on the oak above is sort of a highly modified leaf. The insect larva within is protected by this structure from hungry predators (but parasites can still get in). The gall is also food for the larva. The plant doesn’t seem to be harmed. The wasp emerges from the gall to start all over again, sometimes with an intervening stage elsewhere on the same tree.
Here are all my posts on galls over the years. All the galls in this post are on white oaks. Oaks and galls are a time-honored combination. In North America, 800 gall wasp species are associated with oak trees. The first two pictures are of a beautiful spherical gall on a big shaggy specimen. The rest of these examples were found on a much younger tree. In this case, they’d fallen out of the tree.The only ones I can identify for certain are the Hedgehog Galls, made by the Hedgehog Gall Wasp. But is this red one a new Hedgehog or something all together different?

“The level of disconnection from nature seemed independent of where children lived.” A new study suggests rural and urban American kids get all their nature information from TV, the internet, and those moronic computer games, and they are not the better for it. (Surprise!) Please share your love of the wild — including galls — with your children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. They’re not going to get it anywhere else.

Butterfly Madness Continued

Red-banded Hairstreak. This generally has a more southeastern range from the Carolinas down. They obviously can get further north, and presumably, as our temperature gets more southern, we’ll see them more often. Pearl Crescent. Another specimen with very frazzled wings.Common Sootywing.Eastern Tailed-blue.A rather more worn Eastern Tailed-blue. Female, I think. Small, rapid fliers, flashing blue and purple.Summer Azure, another fast, low-flying one sending out brief messages of blueness.

Skipper.Another skipper. These drive me crazy with my inability to parse them.Sachem — all three of these skippers may be Sachems, actually.

Elizabeth Drew — who cut her teeth on Watergate — on Trump’s open invitation to foreign powers to help him and the Grand Old Party of Authoritarianism subvert democracy even more.

Butterfly Madness

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. The hugeness of these is really telling when they’re at eye-level. Wingspan can reach 4.5″.Monarch.Black Swallowtails.Sulphurs courting.American Lady. Oops! This is a Painted Lady. I’m so used to seeing American Ladies, I didn’t even look closely at this photo. Thanks to Ken for pointing out the mis-identification.Common Buckeye pair.Red Admiral, very beat up. Note the rolled tongue: it has to go somewhere while in flight.Another Red Admiral in fine fettle.

All seen, like tomorrow’s specimens, in Green-Wood. For variety, and numbers, the cemetery has never looked better for butterflies. The cemetery is mowing less and they’ve dedicated a tiny portion of the grounds to native flowers. It’s a great example of what happens when there’s habitat. On the down side, they’re still farming honeybees. From the big yellow kites of the Tigers to the tiny blue flutterers we’ll see tomorrow, the butterflies have come once it’s been built.

The most common butterfly there is still the Cabbage White.


Red-spotted Purple. Limenitis arthemis “in part” because the White Admiral of further north is considered the same species. They intergrade in-between ranges, and perhaps the ones seen locally are a little mixed?

The formal binomial for the RSP is Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Fabricius)*.This beauty is rarely seen here. Its larval stage caterpillar is a bird-poop mimic in its late instars! That’s right, to try and avoid being eaten by birds, it looks like “droppings.” An ugly duckling/swan situation, eh?

That’s a Common Buckeye in the distance of the first image. This week has been intensely butterfly-y in Green-wood. I’ve seen around fifteen species, the indeterminate number because of the confusing skippers. I’ll post pictures of most them tomorrow and Tuesday.

*Johan Christian Fabricius, a student of Linnaeus, also came up with the term Odonata, and people are still trying to figure out why.

Beef prodcution profit is driving Bolsonaro’s assault on the Amazon and the world. To market, to market: The local bourgeoisie (Park Slope) are surrounded by burger places. Meanwhile, “if American’s cats and dogs were their own country, they’d rank 5th in global meat consumption…”


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.

SCHIFF: “Trump and his campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian interference?”


SCHIFF: “And then Trump and his campaign lied about it to cover it up?”



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