Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

Lake Larvae

Larval…
…something, or other.
Many of them, in fact. I think these might be lake midges, in the family Chironomidae.
And most of them seem to be just the larval husks, the exuviae, of the larval form.
The westerly breeze pushed them all to one part of the Sylvan Water. There were a heck of a lot of them: in this shot, they make up the cloudy looking area reaching uptimes to two from the shoreline.
This an adult non-biting midge. Same crew? They’re around, but nowhere near the numbers the water would suggest. They may spread, though. The other evening at sunset I noticed a cluster swarming at 4th floor level by Sunset Park, six or seven blocks as the midge flies from the Valley Water.

Eggs & Memories

Slug eggs! I think. Quite small.
I didn’t notice them at first, as I was photographing this beetle under a log.
Some beetles are shy. Only later did I see the spheres in the photograph.

I’ve been delving into the archives to see what else has turned up in early Aprils past:

2018: Brooklyn Kestrels!
2017: Some turtles in oldest Virginia.
2016: Accipiter bath.
2015: Lores of an egret.
2012: Leaves of three.

This is a must-read on thinking during a pandemic.

Midge

Non-biting midge bigger than your average fly,
characteristically holding his forelimbs out in front. The feathery antennae are reminiscent of some moths. Probably cold, letting me get the phone camera close up.

Witches’ Broom

A hackberry tree, Celtis occidentalis. Notice the clumpiness in the canopy?
A slightly closer view of one fo the clumps. (They were all out of hand’s reach.) This is witches’ broom, a gall-like growth of branches sprouting in multiples. Hackberry is particularly susceptible. In this case, it seems to be caused by a combination of a fungus and a mite. I gather the mite carries the fungus…

It is thought to be:

“attributed to two agents acting together: a powdery mildew fungus (Sphaerotheca phytoptophila) and a minute, wormlike, eriophyid mite (Eriophyes celtis, synonym Aceria snetsingeri) about 200 microns long.”

The mite’s name has recently been changed to Aceria celtis.

Evidently there are strains of hackberries that are immune to it. People think it’s unsightly. People!

This specimen is in Prospect Park. There are two young hackberries outside our window here. You may remember that the city’s street tree survey insisted they were hawthorns. We fixed that. Just the other day I noticed that one of them had some witches’ broom in it. I don’t think the tree had any there last year. I’m not positive, but I don’t feel like they were there.

Leaves of Invertebrates

American Robin in the leaves.
Because that’s where the good stuff is.

Now, if this bird could turn over logs:

***

I can’t stomach watching the Orange Troll in action, but I forced myself to look at his sniffly Gollum-in-a-fright-wig performance last night. What a squandered opportunity, but who expected more after three years of his blustering ignorance, incompetence, and corruption? Word is that the nastiest thugs on his team, business-partner-of-assassins son-in-criminality Jared Kushner and Klan posterboy Stephen Miller, “wrote” that shit. Within an hour of his e-nun-ci-at-ing the address, the White House was walking back three of his pronouncements. More details on his Presidential errors.

By the way, the UK isn’t included in the European ban even though it has more cases than 8 other European nations. But Trump has properties in the UK, nowhere else in Europe. Your health and welfare are irrelevant to this dumpster fire. And these.

Next week, the epidemiologists predict, we hit Italian levels of infection. Here’s some background how Trump sabotaged our response efforts.

Crabs

Atlantic Blue.
Atlantic Rock.
Lady.
Lady in situ.
Portly Spider (with barnacles, which are also crustaceans).
Atlantic Sand. Note that little spur above the back paddle.

All seen at Jones Beach recently.

The invasive Asian Shore Crab, spotted at Dead Horse Bay.

Oaks to Caterpillars to Birds

The National Wildlife Foundation has a county-level guide, the Native Plant Finder, to native plants that support caterpillars. Why caterpillars? Because they are esentially the foundation of the food chain for song birds. Even the seedeaters that come to your feeders for seeds and suet in winter feed their young caterpillars. Caterpillars are relatively soft as insects go, and they are simply packed with fats, proteins and carotenoids, which are vital for avian development and feather pigmentation.

The stats on caterpillar consumption are mind-boggling: a single nesting pair of Carolina Chickadees will feed their young ones 6000-9000 caterpillars before fledgling, meaning over sixteen days on average. After fledgling, nobody has counted, but fledged Chickadees get feed for up to three more weeks. It’s rare to see Carolina Chickadees in Brooklyn.

Here’s another: a Wilson’s Warbler pair were closely observed. The male carried food to the nest 241 times a day, the female 571 times a day. For five days. That’s a minimum of 4060 caterpillars, if each trip was one caterpillar’s-worth. Often as not there are more than one caterpillar in the parent’s bill, at least in places un-assaulted by chemical warfare and invasive species.

Bobolinks: parents brought food to nest 840 times a day for ten days in a row.

A UK study of ten different passerines found an average of 259 food trips to nest per day.

Audubon’s Plants for Birds is another good source for information on plants to grow in your area. Many of the plants sold for yards and gardens are the WORSE thing you could do for local food webs. After all, they’re for sale so people can make money. Pretty and exotic is sterile. Ornaments and decorations, it turns out, are actively working AGAINST nature.

“Bird-friendly” shade grown coffee? Nope, not if the shade is being thrown by eucalyptus trees, which are often used because they grow fast… and provide shade. But they provide next to nothing for the birds because they provide nothing for local insects.

(In California, where they went crazy for eucalyptus a century ago, precisely one species of insect has adopted to living off these exotic and invasive trees in that time.)

It’s not just biodiversity. The kind of plant makes a lot of difference. Some keystone species are disproportionately productive for food webs. “A landscape without keystone genera will support 70 to 75 percent fewer caterpillar species than a landscape with keystone genera, even though the keystone-less landscape may contain 95% of the native plant genera in the area.”

The single best insect-friendly species to plant in 84% of U.S. counties are white oaks and their relatives. They support some 934 caterpillar (butterfly and moth) species nation-wide. Compare with tuliptree (21 caterpillar species), black gum (26), Sweetgum (35), persimmon (46), and hemlock (92). In the mid-Atlantic states, white oaks host nearly 600 species of Lepidoptera larvae.

Do you know how many species of butterfly in their larval state live on Buddleja, the famous “butterfly bush” much touted as food for butterflies, in North America? One out of the 725 species.

But wait! Of the 511 caterpillar species found on oaks in Chester Co., PA, 95% of them fall to the ground when they’re fully grown. They don’t pupate in the trees themselves, probably because they want to escape predators. Instead, they burrow into leaf litter, dig themselves into the ground, and even chew their way into rotten wood. So a stately oak in a patch of turf grass, well-mowed and sprayed, with hard-packed soil, tidied up every fall of all those rich leaves, is a desert. Put in native shrubs and/or flowers like wild ginger, foamflower, and woodland phlox. Or keep the leaf “litter.” (Change the name of litter to “natural fertilizer” and/or “habitat.”)

All data and quotations taken from Doug Tallamy’s new book, Nature’s Best Hope, to be discussed tomorrow. A book for your neighbors, I’m guessing.

Caterpillars at Backyard & Beyond.

Water Bugs and Birds

Under a thin layer of ice, two true bugs in the Crescent Water. The first is a water boatman, the second a backswimmer.
Not all of the pond was iced over. Aerators keep donut holes of water ice-free, and the edge along one side of the pond was also open. This Eastern Phoebe was making short forays over the water and sometimes dipping into it. Not, I think, to drink, but to plunge for prey! Just a guess, considering there are obviously insects to be had in the cold water.
This Phoebe (presumably the same one) seems to have been around all winter. So has this male Belted Kingfisher. He is also leery of people, but a lot noisier about it. Making dive after dive for little fish, usually not hitting, but obviously striking enough to be stick around. (Yesterday I saw him gulp down a goldfish.) The Kingfisher hovers like a Kestrel over the water before plunging, something I’ve never seen before this winter.

Prunus serotina

There are still, after all these years, parts of Green-Wood I’ve never been. I came across this massive black cherry only recently.
It was after a big wind and bits of the scaly bark and branches were scattered about.
The mature bark is very different from the younger stuff from way up there.
Turning over the loose pieces on the ground, I found a Nabis genus damsel bug.
And a springtail! (And something even smaller I can’t tell what).

More Bits, More Pieces


Eumenes
wasp mud nest pots.
There were a dozen of these mantid egg cases in this patch of Rhus aromatica, the same spot I found the mud nests in.
If there were sheep about, I say this was a bit of wool with a medium-sized marble in it. I am, however, hoping it’s some insect I know nothing about making it through the winter. It was too high up in a tree to touch. Those are pine needles stuck to it.
Bird skull.
***

Good luck to Great Britain as it leaves the EU and the bandits sharpen their knives, the very day the craven cowards of the GOP join the fascists of the GOP to confirm that Trump can attempt to steal the 2020 election any way he can.


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 638 other followers

Twitter

  • RT @propublica: These 68 videos show clear apparent instances of police officers escalating violence during protests. Most departments refu… 1 hour ago
Nature Blog Network

Archives