Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Wasp At Work


Here's a pretty paper wasp, the kind that makes those fan shaped nests of hexagonal cells you see under eaves and overhangs. It's scraping wood fibers from a fence post.

Click to enlarge and you can see under its chin the little ball of fibers it has accumulated. That gets broken down to a soft pulp in the wasp's mouth by saliva and will be used to build and expand a nest. 

Looks like hard work.

And here are a few wise words from Iris Shah: 

"A king who feared wasps once decreed they were abolished. As it happened, they did him no harm. But he was eventually stung to death by scorpions."

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Caterpillar Transfer


Have you ever had to perform an emergency caterpillar evacuation? This monarch butterfly caterpillar is relaxing in its new emergency quarters after being carried across the yard to this host plant.

The plant is an attractive low bushy kind of milkweed called butterfly weed or orange milkweed. In summer it's covered with orange flowers. Now it has pointy seed pods. I grew this from seeds and got it started in the yard a few years ago.

I wanted more of this milkweed, so this spring I planted it in another spot in the yard. The plants were puny, though, so I temporarily filled in around with marigolds. The milkweed did great. It flowered and got bushy. I never got the chance to take a picture of it because, suddenly a few days ago -- this. Do you see the bare stem sticking out of the marigolds? That's one of the new milkweed plants, completely defoliated!

What happened? Just enlarge this photo and count all of the munching monarch caterpillars. I think I see six of them.

Consider the area to the right of the caterpillar, full of fresh delicious milkweed leaves. And to the left, just naked stems. There were hardly any leaves left on this plant. The caterpillars were eating a dwindling supply and getting perilously close to stranding themselves in a sea of unpalatable marigold foliage, which they cannot eat.

So -- they all got carefully carried to the big bush on the other side of the yard where there is adequate food for them to finish their voracious eating stages. It was a long journey in caterpillar miles. Each of them curled up for the trip.

And each of them uncurled and stretched after a few moments in their new digs and recommenced eating. I've transferred eight of them so far. I''m looking forward to upcoming blogs about chrysalises and eclosions.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Happy Labor Day

I'm resting for Labor Day so no blog today, just this picture of hard-working monarch butterflies from a past migration. Click to enlarge. Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Trying to Bee Funny

Here's a two-spotted bumblebee looking lovely in a purple flower. Do you know what a bee says when it's in a sauna? "Swarm in here!" Click to enlarge.

Here's a honey bee in a pink rose. It lives in the United States. It's a USB. 

My favorite bee, the golden northern bumblebee -- big, pretty, and furry. If you hold one of these in your hand, do you know what you'll have in your eye? Beauty. Because beauty is in the eye of the bee holder.

This is a big common eastern bumblebee with sacs full of yellow pollen on its rear legs. If you went to a beekeeper to buy some bees and the beekeeper threw in some extras at no charge -- they'd be freebies.

Golden northern bumblebee again. Can't believe this blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Butterfly Season

I spotted a lot of big butterflies this week. Like this monarch.

This eastern tiger swallowtail.

A couple of spicebush swallowtails. Click to enlarge.

And a variegated fritillary -- a name I like to say out loud.

We focus on the beauty of butterfly wings, of course, but their bodies are often lovely, too. Check out the polka dots on the monarch.

And this!

Sunday, August 15, 2021


"The quiet August noon has come, 

A slumberous silence fills the sky, 

The fields are still, the woods are dumb, 

In glassy sleep the waters lie."  

   from A Summer Ramble by Wiilliam Cullen Bryant

The weather is too hot and humid for me right now, but the insects don't mind -- like this cabbage white butterfly hard at work in the noon day sun. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Hummingbird Moth


This hummingbird moth hovered for a rare split second as I watched through the camera lens; I usually photograph hummingbird-moth-blurs as the fast-moving things fly away. Note the detail of this one's lovely long curled proboscis. That thing can snake out and retract like a birthday party noisemaker. Click to enlarge.

People often mistake this big insect for a small hummingbird and it's easy to see why from the body shape, posture, and rapidly beating wings. But on closer inspection you will see that the moth has a pair of antennae, two pairs of wings, and six legs. And that proboscis. To me, seeing one of these is just as exciting as spotting a hummingbird. 

The hummingbird moth belongs to a larger group called sphinx moths or hawk moths that mostly fly by day and hover in front of flowers to feed. This one is in the sphinx moth genus, Hemaris, sometimes called clearwing moths because they have scale-free transparent areas on their wings. Look at the pictures again -- you can see right through their wings. Now that's a cool moth!