Sunday, August 19, 2018

HumBug: A Day for Beetles

Posted By on Sun, Aug 19, 2018 at 10:53 AM

A 4 millimeter-long beetle was persistent and despite being shooed away several times repeatedly returned to its excavation. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A 4 millimeter-long beetle was persistent and despite being shooed away several times repeatedly returned to its excavation.

Yesterday was a day for beetles. Moving some large pepperwood planks to my garage for curing, I noted several small beetles on the freshly sawn surfaces.

One was actively chewing its way into the surface. There are quite a few species of small cylindrical wood boring beetles, many choose a single species of host tree. At about 4 millimeters long this one makes holes about 2 millimeters across and seems particularly fond of pepperwood. I noticed several “shot holes” already in the wood. I am not yet sure how I will deal with the insects that have already invaded the wood I intend to use for countertops.
Tiniest beetle I've seen so far. Probably attracted to fungus invading felled wood. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Tiniest beetle I've seen so far. Probably attracted to fungus invading felled wood.

Some time ago I reported on the tiny feather winged beetle I'd caught, and that it was a member of the family containing the smallest beetles in the world. Well, I found one even tinier than that specimen. Smaller than the period at the end of the sentence, at first it looked like it might just be a speck of dirt, but it moved in a purposeful way so I took a magnified photo. Only after I downloaded the image could I make out any details. The tiny dot was a beetle. Although it has been tentatively identified as a spider beetle, I'm not sure that's correct. I'm still working on it.
Tumbling flower beetles on Queen Anne's lace. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Tumbling flower beetles on Queen Anne's lace.

On some nearby Queen Anne's Lace flowers I noted the black teardrop shapes of some tumbling flower beetles (family mordellidae), a species which escapes predators by making a series of tiny jumps causing it to tumble off the flower and to the ground. Although not uncommon, their wariness and this behavior makes them a challenging photographic subject.
The common and distinctive 10-lined June bug on my front porch. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • The common and distinctive 10-lined June bug on my front porch.
Leaving the house for a late-night date, I noted a thumb sized striped lump on my front porch. It was a 10-striped June bug (Polyphylla decemlineata). Flying to lights this large scarab is fairly common hereabouts. Until now I've never had an opportunity to photograph one. Of course I had to stop and take a few pictures. Fortunately, my wife is tolerant and kind.
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Sunday, August 12, 2018

HumBug: A Mixed Bag of Beauties

Posted By on Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 11:20 AM

A spunky little skipper on a thistle. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A spunky little skipper on a thistle.


It's getting late in the season, the time when all the insects that overwintered as eggs have hatched, grown through their larval stages and are now wearing their adult colors.
Fritillary on thistle. Likely a great spangled fritillary, there are several species with subtle differences. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Fritillary on thistle. Likely a great spangled fritillary, there are several species with subtle differences.
There were quite a few of one my favorite late season butterflies out today.
A fritillary (genus Speyeria) was nectaring on thistle blossoms. I looked through my archive of photos and found almost all of the shots I have of these are on thistles. It makes sense that their maturation is timed to coincide with the blossoms on which they commonly feed.
Western tiger swallowtail on thistle. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Western tiger swallowtail on thistle.
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus), our largest butterfly, feeds on almost any flower.
Buckeye on mint. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Buckeye on mint.
Buckeyes (Junonia coenia) sport striking eyespots and put on quite a show defending territories and pursuing mates whenever another one enters their airspace.
Skipper basks on redwood. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Skipper basks on redwood.
I've seen quite a few skippers (family hesperiidae) lately. This group of little butterflies are, I think, vastly under-appreciated pollinators. I have always liked the way they hold their wings at rest, like a little jet fighter.


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