Posts Tagged 'insects'



Phoebe Again

The day after spotting an Eastern Phoebe in Green-Wood, I saw one in Prospect Park.Traditionally, one of the first migratory birds to show up here in the spring. This means they’re not coming from very far away. And as it gets warmer, some of them aren’t even leaving. This one made a dive down to the leaf litter and got something to eat, because it promptly wiped its bill on the branch it landed on. Snicker-snack!

Saw the Green-Wood Phoebe again yesterday. The bird is being very loyal to the Dell and Crescent Waters. There are flies about in temps of the low 40s.

***

Steve Pyne is a historian of fire. He calls our age the Pyrocene: a warmer, drier time of larger and more ferocious bushfires feeding off rampant development into areas nobody should live in, plus incredibly wrong-headed fire-management policies (which were developed for the logging and the real estate industries). Here he writes about the current firestorm horrors in Australia as a new paradigm. Here he is warning that the New Jersey Pine Barrens are ripe for a wildfire storm.

Unwrapped

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a large Bald-faced Hornet nest being whipped around by the wind way up a tree overlooking the Dell Water. More recently, I looked up and saw nothing.
A clump of hornet paper stuck on a bush was my first clue. I scanned the ground up the slope with greater care.
Ah-ha! Stripped of the surrounding layers of paper, here were four levels of paper comb.
Remains of larval hornets were scattered about.
Dead worker, dead larva, live fly, and a pretty active ant. Temps were in the 40s.
Looking closely at the paper, you can see the wood fibers that make it up.

These incredible constructions are only built for one season. Only the queen over-winters. The nests rarely survive the winter. This one came crashing down. But this one was collected. Flatbush Gardener removed this one from a neighbor’s shrub, with permission from the neighbor. This was one of the biggest I’ve seen. (Party lighting here, sorry.) Notably in a shrub instead of way up in a tree. I’ve seen them in young street trees, too, barely above eye-level. There are a good number of these nests in Brooklyn, but the hornets themselves are a bit elusive. I mean, they are obviously all over, but you don’t see them everyday.

12th Month Insect

Diptera are the only things out and about now, and just barely. This fly was on the Dead Horse Bay beach the other day.

A gnat landed on my nose yesterday as I walked down the street.

Flies are hard to ID when they are not in hand. Out of a total of 80 iNaturalist Diptera observations, I have 24 identifications that are research grade.

***
The coyotes are coming. In fact, they’re already here. Here being NYC, specifically the Bronx — which is part of the mainland and abuts coyote-rich Westchester Co. — and Queens, which is only connected to America by bridges and tunnels. 45 individual coyotes have been charted in this study of our new neighbors. It’s a certainty they will show up in Brooklyn, which borders Queens. However, this single Kings County iNaturalist observation isn’t very convincing.

I saw one in Woodlawn in the Bronx years ago. It was in the middle of the afternoon. My friends were just waking up from a nap… why yes, they did lay down in the cemetery to nap. The coyote looked at me and I looked at the coyote. On our way, we said “We saw a coyote!” to the gate-keeper. He was very Blasé about, saying they crossed the road from Van Cortlandt Park.

A reputable source still has the best local sighting, however: a berg of ice headed down the Hudson with a coyote on one end and two bald eagles on the other.

11th Month Insecta

There are still a few insects in the cold.
On Friday, this wasp, bumble bee, and fly were active. There were other flies about, and other impossible-to-photograph diptera, and a lovely leaf-hopper or two.
Some kind of gall on a crab apple. Exit hole visible.
Remember last January when I found a large cocoon that I thought belonged to a Polyphemus moth? On Friday, at the same willow oak, I found another.

Paper wasp paper.
Saturday was much colder, but this Fall Armyworm was on the march.
Also on that cold and blustery Saturday, we found three different harvestmen, each one on lichen or moss. Of course, we were looking at lichen and moss, so…

Late Insecta

Not a single bee, wasp, or butterfly spotted yesterday in Green-Wood during lunch. There was a suggestion or two of fly, and at least one spider. The first real day of winter, then, bug-wise.

Last weekend, though, these stragglers were spotted:
Differential Grasshopper, a big one.
One of the confusing Syrphid flies.
Clouded Sulphur.
Vinegar fly.
Variegated Fritillary.
Large Yellow Ant, according to iNaturalist. Reproductive ants are winged, the better to spread the genes, and the wasp-ant similarity really comes through.
Speaking of wasps… there are so many species! This may be a member of the Square-headed Wasp subfamily.

In the Queen’s Chamber

Let this be a lesson to me. I turned over a rotten old log that was about two feet long and a quarter of that in diameter. It came apart in three pieces. This stirred up this Bald-Faced Hornet, all covered in saw dust. Must be a queen in her over-wintering chamber.

A thousand pardons, Your Majesty! I put the wood back together after she resettled in her hollow.

Elsewhere that same Saturday, this nearly eye-level nest was still active.

Acorn Drillers

As is my wont, I pocketed a red oak acorn recently. Almost a week later I noticed this: a little wormy something was cutting it’s way out! Note the frass pile.

Perhaps a Curculio nut and acorn weevil. More here.

Not pictured, but this also happened with a shingle oak acorn, which has a much smaller nut than the red. The exit hole hole was correspondingly smaller, so perhaps the work of another species.

Bald-Faced Washing

Bald-faced Hornet licking the stonework. Getting salts and minerals?
Also, licking forelegs to groom antennae. Like a cat!
The grooming wasp was spotted Saturday in the sun. This nest was seen Sunday, with at least one wasp hanging around still.

Cryptus

One of two similar ichneumon wasps I saw yesterday around the trunks of very large trees. I’ve never seen this species before. This is what keeps me looking.
I think she’s a Cryptus. Note the long, harpoon-like ovipositor. She is looking for moth larvae to jab her eggs into. She kept moving, but hardly flew. Wings constantly flicking. I took dozens of pictures to get these passable ones.
There are a lot of ichneumon wasp species out there. This one was easy to narrow down to genus because of that orange abdomen.
Cryptus albitarsis, White-footed Cryptus Wasp, perhaps. That’s the most common species. The “feet” do look pretty pale in some of these images.

Last licks in before the cold…

Butterflies Are Free

Recognize this? This was a surprise at the recent Whitman exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum, where the image for the exhibit shows a famous photograph of the older WW holding a butterfly.

Yup, one and the same. (Bigger on the M’s site…)

And in that spirit:
A full house, Monarchs high.


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