Sunday, September 22, 2019

HumBug: An Autumnal Walk

Posted By on Sun, Sep 22, 2019 at 11:03 AM

Walking along the Van Duzen River, we spotted a medium sized black and orange wasp industriously digging a hole in the sand. Although similar in many ways, she was smaller and had a slightly different color pattern than the locally common great golden sand digger. I posted my photo and ID request on www.Bugguide.net and shortly got a reply. This wasp was from the related genus Prionyx, another hunter of grasshoppers.
click to enlarge Prionyx wasp prepares a den in which she will deposit a paralyzed grasshopper and an egg to perpetuate her species. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Prionyx wasp prepares a den in which she will deposit a paralyzed grasshopper and an egg to perpetuate her species.
I spotted several species of butterfly including a California tortoiseshell a variety that in some years have had tremendous population explosions. The reasons for this are not well understood. This hasn't been one of those years as this is the only individual I've seen lately.

click to enlarge California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica) sips water from clay bank, imbibing minerals deficient in the nectars on which they usually feed. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica) sips water from clay bank, imbibing minerals deficient in the nectars on which they usually feed.
A large darner dragonfly flew up and perched in front of us. I managed to get one good shot before it decided to take off and head elsewhere. Despite my best efforts, the ID eluded me, since the markers I normally look for were obscured by the angle of that single shot. A bit more online help identified it as a Walker's darner, which aren't considered rare but I seldom see them hereabouts.
click to enlarge Locally uncommon Walker's darner (Aeshna walkeri) rests, obscuring its identity to all but the most sophisticated of dragonfly folks. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Locally uncommon Walker's darner (Aeshna walkeri) rests, obscuring its identity to all but the most sophisticated of dragonfly folks.
My last image of the day was of a pair of water striders generating ripples in the water's surface to communicate their amorous intentions before getting together.
click to enlarge Water striders communicate through ripples on the water's surface. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Water striders communicate through ripples on the water's surface.
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