Sunday, April 14, 2019

HumBug: Bugs Between the Raindrops

Posted By on Sun, Apr 14, 2019 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge An as yet to be identified bumblebee on dandelion - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • An as yet to be identified bumblebee on dandelion

Despite the dreary weather, life must go on. Eager to get along with their lives, our local insects show up even for the brief patches of sunshine that occasionally grace my back yard. Mostly disdained by the local honeybees, oxalis, dandelions and English daisies draw a crowd.

click to enlarge Itsy-bitsy bee with pollen all over it. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Itsy-bitsy bee with pollen all over it.

Aside from the digger bees mentioned last week, there are quite a few other native bees out and about. On a casual walkabout in my yard I counted half a dozen different species. From the yellow-faced bumblebee, the largest bee in my backyard, down to tiny ones, some smaller than the bumble's hind leg, the demands of life and parenthood drive them to seek nectar and pollen wherever and whenever they can. While the sugary nectar supplies the adults with high octane fuel to power flight and nest building, pollen provides protein and other nutrients to build the bodies of the next generation.
click to enlarge This unidentified shiny black fly also carries pollen between flowers. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • This unidentified shiny black fly also carries pollen between flowers.
Along with the bees, flies and butterflies, there are even occasional day-flying moths like the Western white banded carpet moth are out these days. Looking a lot like petals from a flowering fruit tree fluttering in the wind, these thumbnail-sized moths usually fly too high for me to get a good photo. This makes it a special occasion when one comes down to my level and lands to pose for a photo. A little research told me the caterpillars of this moth dine on hazelnut foliage.
click to enlarge Western white ribboned carpet moth. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Western white ribboned carpet moth.
Another insect that showed itself this week was the green pine chafer (Dichelonyx backii). These half-inch metallic green beetles can be seen flying around some of our local conifers. Last year they were on my fir trees, this year I saw about a dozen flitting through the boughs of my neighbor's cypress trees.
click to enlarge Green pine chafers are excellent fliers. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Green pine chafers are excellent fliers.
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