Two hundred and forty years ago today, the British and their Hessian swine-mercenaries walloped the still-loose conglomeration that was the Continental Army in Brooklyn. There’s a memorial in Prospect Park to the Maryland 400, troops who held the Old Stone House (the existing structure in J. J. Byrne Park is a recreation) down in the Gowanus while the rest of Washington’s soldiers made a pell-mell strategic retreat to Brooklyn Heights, and thence across the river. Geo. is supposed to have said “what brave fellows I must this day lose” about the sacrificial Marylanders.
Yet the British unaccountably did not press their advantage in Brooklyn. They occupied New York, but lost their opportunity of crushing the new American army right here. Big mistake. This, by the way, is also why we don’t have a national health system today.
Someone has laid a fresh wreath on the memorial in honor of the 400.
A pair of Blue Dasher dragonflies, concerned with their own history, were using the fence to tee up. This is the female.
Leaf-cutter bee on Butterfly Weed.
You can’t tell this when they’re in the air, or, frankly, very easily when they’re still, but bees have four wings (flies have two). In this photo, however, you can just see the smaller hindwing underneath the forewing on the right side here.
You have to get pretty close to see the white face on one of NYC’s most common dragonflies, the Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). This is a male; as he gets older, his blue abdomen will get more powdery or chalkier looking. Such pruinescence, as it’s called, is caused by wax exuded from the animals’ cuticle. It’s seen on (mostly) males of many species of odonates, including spectacularly the Common Whitetail:Plathemis lydia.
Another critter hard to pin down. This is a Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), named after one of its host plants and, more obviously, those see-through parts of the wings. This was moving quickly between honeysuckle blossoms, another of its caterpillar hosts, and proving hard to capture in the lens. Note that it mimics a large bee or wasp, sort of flying like one, too. I thought at first this was a Hummingbird Clearwing (H. thysbe); it says here the species can be difficult to distinguish, but the legs on this specimen are definitely black, and that means diffinis.
Compare to the similar-sized Nessus Sphinx.
In my listing of NYC butterflies, I noted that the skippers are hard to identify. These little butterflies in the Hesperiidae family are mostly small, orangish to tawny brown, and have a tendency to look like jet planes when perched.This male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)–identification tentative–assumes the position: hindwings and forewings are separately opened at different distances from the body.Here’s a Pecks Skipper (Polites peckius), I believe.Peck’s with wings open?Not sure of this one. You’d think the plain one would be easy, right? Tawny-edged, European, Least?The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), on the other wing, is distinctive. That “silver” spot always looks white in the field. This was bright bright day.
Anyway, this is the month for these critters. They are flitting and skipping all over now, but especially on nectar-rich flowers. Look for them!A female Sachem (Atalopedes campestris).
This black bee was a real brawler, tackling each flower like a linebacker, rolling up and over the flower parts until it was upside-down.
Note the long opera-glove-like sleeves of pollen on the hind legs. These legs have more hair than the other two sets, and these pollen packs are rather larger than you see on most bees who do this (leaf cutter bees, for another example, store pollen on the underside of their abdomen); this and the antenna helped me identify this one. Two-spotted Long-horned Bee, Melissodes bimaculatus. It is supposed to be common in the east, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen/identified one. This is one of the solitary bee species, not social like the non-native honeybees or partially social like some bumblebees.
Over two hundred species of bees have been found in NYC, but honeybees and several species of bumblebees are the most commonly recognized. Yet when you look closer, there’s so much more going on. This one was all over the flowers outside my apartment building.
This tiny beetle is Sehirus cinctus, the White-margined Burrowing Beetle. 4-6.5mm long. There were several on the very hairy leaves of what looks like Stachys something or other.
Adult females of this species care for their young, which is fairly unusual in the insect world. Plenty of insects provision their young, but most aren’t around to feed them directly. Wasp mothers, for instance, who feed their young with paralyzed spiders die before they see their next generation. But let’s not get sentimental. Different strategies for different folks.
These beetles can sometimes swarm on your ornamentals, but they are harmless feeders on the seeds of mint family plants, so leave them alone. And for the planet’s sake, don’t spread the poisons of pesticides/insecticides: that shit harms beneficial insects and ends up in the water and, surprise, surprise, you, too.