Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Buggy Day

I hadn't walked for five minutes today when the sweat started dripping down my back and the deerflies arrived to enjoy nice salty bites from my flesh. Grrrr. I actually caught myself wishing that summer would soon be over. But not really. For one thing, I still have lots of flowers to find before frost ends the season, and I was on my way along Skidmore trails to where I knew a beautiful patch of Wild Bergamot grows. And sure enough, I found it in full bloom.

As it turned out, I wasn't the only one interested in these beautiful Mint Family flowers. This Hummingbird Moth paid no attention to me at all as it busied itself among the blooms. So how come I couldn't get a better photo? Well, this guy never stops moving, that's why.

This Tiger Swallowtail was a bit more cooperative, taking a long slow drink of nectar and obligingly opening its wings for me to enjoy.

The Queen Anne's Lace was also in full bloom, attracting lots of insects of its own, like this handsome red and black bug . . .

. . . and this magnificent Monarch Butterfly. Correction: I believe this is instead a Viceroy Butterfly, because of the black band across its lower wings. The non-poisonous Viceroy mimics the poisonous Monarch's coloration as a way to dissuade predators.

But not all the bugs rummaging around in the flowers were so pretty and benign. Just take a look at this murder scene. Here we have a bunch of Jagged Ambush Bugs (thanks!) feeding on the corpse of a bee, while others pursue a Long-horned Flower Beetle.

Here's a shot of those bugs at work on that bee. It looks like they're sucking it dry with green straws sticking out of their faces. And check out those humongous front legs (The better to grab you with, my dear)!

Okay, we had death, how about a little sex to complete the picture?

This pair of amorous Bluet damselflies obliged.


Wayne said...

Marvelous bugshots! I hope you wore your "sticky hat" to keep at least some of the deerflies off your skin. That red and black insect on the Queen Anne's Lace is actually a true bug (Order Hemiptera) as evidenced by the overlap of the ends of the forewings. Beetles have the line between the wing covers running straight down the center of the back. This bug is the Small Milkweed Bug (actually has quite a varied diet). It's a common showy species, so I recognized it. Even though I was an entomology major, I am usually happy just to be able to ID the family or even order of insects, because there are millions of them.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Wayne. I sure do welcome and appreciate your help with the insect IDs. I had just returned to edit this post after searching the web for red and black bugs and discovering the identity when I found your comment. Thanks for the lesson in insect morphology. I changed the text to reflect your info.

Yes, I wore my sticky hat, but a couple deerflies found their way to my ears.

Virginia said...

You shouldn't apologize for that picture of the hummingbird moth--it's very crisp even though he's moving those wings how many times a minute? I had a big bumble bee on my rose of sharon. Without my glasses, I thought it was something I had never seen before because it had yellow spots all over its tail. I went in, got the glasses, and saw that it was covered in pollen, apparently having a wonderful and profitable morning!