Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going Buggy!

Do you find yourself bugged some days?

So do we. Only it’s not human annoyances, but insects. Here’s a sample of some we’ve seen lately in the gardens.

No, this is not a Texas-sized mosquito, like mosquitoes, it’s a fly – a crane fly that can grow up to 2-1/2 inches long, with a crane fly0603 (2)wingspan of 3 inches. They are brown and slender with long, super-thin legs that are usually about twice as long as their bodies.

honeybee on oregano0603 (4)crane fly0603 (1)Crane fly larvae eat decaying plants, dead leaves, fungi, or roots of plants. Adult crane flies do not eat and have short lives (sometimes only days). So what do they do? Mate and lay eggs.They have many predators. Adults are eaten by birds and bats. 
They lose their legs easily, and often escape a bird by losing a leg or two.There was a gathering of honey bees (or honeybees) in the oregano, which bolted early and is now flowering. More has been written about honeybees than any other species of insect. Don’t get a female honey bee mad because she’s the one that can sting. Male honey bees (drones)  have no stinger and only live about eight weeks. 

Their sole function is to perform their bee-ly duty and mate with a new queen, if one is produced in a given year. A drone's eyes are very large which helps them to spot the queens when they are on their nuptial flight (really).  Any drones left at the end of the season have outlived their usefulness and are driven from the hive and left to die – they are used and abused.This oregano reseeds itself and is in its third or fourth year. Last week, I picked some and it’s hanging in the barn drying. More on that in another post.
honeybee on oregano0603 (2)honeybee on oregano0603 (12)
bumble bee-oregano (1)Bumble bees (or bumblebee) are large, hairy social insects with a lazy buzz and clumsy, bumbling flight. Many are black and yellow, and with ladybirds and butterflies they are a popular insect. Queen and worker bumblebees can sting because they are all female.bumble bee-oregano (4)
Bumble bees usually nest in the ground in a deserted mouse nest or bird nest. Occasionally they nest in cavities within a wall or even in the clothes drier vent – good reason to check it in summer months. Certain plants are better pollinated by bumble bees because of their long tongues.
bumble bee-oregano (2)bbee on cornflower collageBumble bees were in the wildflower gardens on cornflowers . . .And coneflowers . . .
bbee on coneflower collageAnd especially on coreopsis . . .
bbee on coreopsis collageThis lynx spider was also in the oregano. These hunting spiders spend their lives on plants, flowers and shrubs and are among the major predators of insects in low shrubs and grasses. Lynx spiders are nimble jumpers, relying on keen eyesight to stalk, chase or ambush prey.
Six of their eight eyes are arranged in a hexagon-like pattern, a characteristic that identifies them as members of the family spider0603 (3)Oxyopidae. Lynx Spiders have a very distinct eye arrangement: four on the "face", two looking sideways, and two on top of the head; they also have and have spiny legs.
But, their usefulness in the control of insect pests is counteracted by their habit of preying also on beneficial insects, like honey bees.
grasshopper young0603 (4)
This immature grasshopper found a home on a coneflower. Grasshoppers are insects that can hop, walk, and fly. Many male grasshoppers make noise by rubbing their back legs together. There are about 10,000 different species of grasshoppers. Grasshoppers eat plants. Their predators include birds, beetles, rodents, reptiles, and spiders, so they are adept at camouflage.
grasshopper young0603 (1)grasshopper young0603 (9)
skipper0603 (2)DSCF2916This is an unknown bug also hanging in the oregano. Anyone know its name?The skipper or skipper butterfly is named because of its quick, darting flight habits. There are more than 3500 recognized species of skippers worldwide. Unlike butterflies, skippers have antennae clubs hooked backward like a crochet hook; true butterflies' antennae are clubbed together with bulbous ends. Skippers have feathered antennae similar to moths. Skippers have thicker hairy bodies and larger compound eyes unlike true butterflies.When at rest, skippers keep their wings angled upwards or spread out, and rarely fold them up completely.
DSCF3005DSCF3003The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail s a species of swallowtail butterfly native to North America. It is one of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern U.S. Adults feed on the nectar of many species of flowers. This butterfly has many bird predators.

The Endbee gone


Montanagirl said...

Fabulous series of shots! Great Macro work.

Elaine said...

Lovely photo story! I am definitely feeling buggy right now as my yard (and house) is as full of buggy little critters as yours. We see very few during the winter so it's always very noticeable when they explode in the spring.

Don't unplug your hub said...

A lovely nature blog. Feel I learnt something.

Anvilcloud said...

What a wonderfully elucidating post to begin my day! And great photos too.

possum said...

Oh, my, yes. Bugs! As much as we hate some of them, we also need them. 'Course, I could skip skeeters and ticks, but the rest of them are necessary, and its nice that some of them are also beautiful... tho I suppose they all are in their own ways. Except skeeters and ticks.
Nice shots.

Sandra said...

these are all wonderful, i really really like the first coneflower shot. the bees are beautiful, although i don't like bees due to a fear factor. we are being bugged to, they just said on the local news mosquitoes are 3 times as many as normal and i knew that becaue when in the back yard at 6;30 my legs were covered in them

Out on the prairie said...

Your unknown is a variety of soldier beetle.Lovely shots, I loved them.

Daisy said...

Great pictures, Beatrice! I learned a couple things too. This post is science and beauty all in one. :)

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi All, glad to hear that this post didn't "bug" you. I learn a lot by finding out about what we find in the gardens, so figured it would be good to with the photos. Thanks for letting me know you found it interesting.

Thanks Steve for letting me know about the bug. I've seen soldier beetles (usually mating on the wildflowers) and didn't know there were other varieties. I'll check it out.

Sandra, the mosquitoes ALWAYS find me so I wear ong pants when watering, weeding, grass cutting. Grenville surrounds me with citronella candles when we dine outdoors!

Thanks AC, John & Daisy - always good to learn something new.

Hey Mona - thanks for the compliment, much appreciated!

Elaine, guess the Alaska summer is similar in that you have buggy things too.

AGREED, Possum!

Anonymous said...

Your blog post contains good pictures of insects and was quite informative too. Good post.

Anonymous said...

It must have been the rain that knocked out our flowers this year. We still only have one or two flowers in bloom. The rest are still growing up.

grammie g said...

Hi Beatrice ...I know I am wayyyyy behind on commenting!!
This set of photos id fabulous ...I so the Oregeno fellow, but don't know what it is. The Swallowtail great ....I have had the devil of a time catching a photo of them!!
When I am working in the garden without a camera they all but land on my nose,but with the camera they just flit about never sitting still!! lol
Super post!!

Anonymous said...

I do like Your insects photographs!
They look so like our insects even though they are a bit different in colors.

Have a great day!

Cicero Sings said...

A lovely selection of buggy photos and some interesting commentary to go along with.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Linda and Eileen (Cicero) glad you enjoyed the post and it taught me a lot as well.

Hi Abe, at least you have had RAIN. We are pretty well dry and need to water daily. Bet your flowers realy bloom after the wet weather.

Hey Grammie G, we did miss your comments too - welcome back! Hopefully we will soon have a lot more butterflies so I can get more photos and they can be so elusive to photograph, but once all the coreopsis bloom they won't mind being "models."

Thanks Christer, and I have been enjoying your posts with photos of the flowers in bloom in and around your cottage. I think that insects, like flowers, are universal.

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