Sunday, April 16, 2017

HumBug: Dragons and Fairies

Posted By on Sun, Apr 16, 2017 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge California darner. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • California darner.

On a recent dry day, I took my camera out to the garden and got what may be technically the best dragonfly photograph I have gotten. A member of the mosaic darner group, named for the mosaic pattern on their abdomens, the California darner (Rhionaeschna californica) is one of the first dragonflies to be seen in our area each year.
click to enlarge Volucella bombylans a bumblebee mimic. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Volucella bombylans a bumblebee mimic.
Along with that was a bumblebee-mimicking fly that was so nervous it was hard to get a shot. I tried again another day using a high powered telephoto lens. When I finally got a shot good enough to ID it, I found it to be Volucella bombylans whose young (larva) often live in bumblebee nests.
click to enlarge Calypso bulbosa are best left in nature as they're so difficult to cultivate and you'll most likely kill them at home. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Calypso bulbosa are best left in nature as they're so difficult to cultivate and you'll most likely kill them at home.
When I checked dates in my photo archive and I found my little patch of Calypso bulbosa orchids blooms right around tax day. Every year a marble sized bulb puts up one leaf and a single flower. They are considered very difficult to grow since they appear to be dependent on a symbiotic relationship with a specific soil fungus. When I got there, most were bloomed out but one specimen was still in good shape. This little “Fairy Slipper Orchid” has been a family favorite for generations.

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