Saturday, October 14, 2006

October 13, 2006

It got into the low 30s this morning and warmed up to around 60 F. It was sunny but windy.

I hadn’t seen a dragonfly for a while and was starting to think I had seen my last one until spring. But I saw one today in Cole County. At first, I thought it was a Ruby Meadowhawk (Sympetrum rubicundulum), but when I got a closer look realized it was a Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum). I’ve seen this species only once before, in New Jersey.

I saw 9 species of butterflies: Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme), Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Red-Banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) , Gray Comma (Polygonia progne), Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Monarch (Danaus plexippus), Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis), and Sachem (Atalopedes campestris).

I also had several wasps: thread-waisted wasp (Sphecidae, tentatively identified as Ammophila sp.) and paper wasps (Vespidae, tentatively identified as Vespula sp. and Polistes sp.). I tentatively identified several Syrphid flies as Toxomerus sp., Chrysotoxum sp., and Eristalis sp.
October 9, 2006

It was sunny and in the upper 70s. Somewhat windy.

I saw around 10 Great Spreadwings (Archilestes grandis in Boone County, today. There were about a dozen water striders (Heteroptera Gerridae) in the creek.

Something unusual happened. I was focusing on one of the damselflies when I thought I felt a bite on my leg. I reached down to brush off whatever it was and glanced down and saw a damselfly on my leg. I guessed that what I thought was a bite must have been the feet grabbing my leg and went back to taking photos. About a half hour later, I saw a damselfly land on my leg. I was watching it when I noticed that it was a female and she was bending her abdomen like she was about to jab her ovipositor into my leg. Great Spreadwings lay their eggs in tree branches overhanging the water. I brushed her off my leg and wondered if the first damselfly had jabbed me with her ovipositor.

Another spreadwing landed on my shirt and I noticed a tiny insect perched on its leg. Unfortunately the damselfly flew off before I got a closer look at what I am assuming must have been some sort of parasitic wasp or fly.

I did a rough count of antlion (Neuroptera Myrmeleontidae) pits in the dusty area by our front door – about 65! I took a few more photos of them and dug one up for better photos. I had mistakenly thought that all antlions dug pits, but read the pages on ant lions in Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity (Stephen A. Marshall 2006) and now know that some are ambush predators but don’t make pits. I’ll need to do more research to find out whether those species still have the weird hunchback shape.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Robber Flies (Diptera Asilidae)
October 3, 2006

I was sitting on the deck and noticed a pair of Robber Flies (Diptera Asilidae) engaging in what I am assuming was courtship behavior. One was perched at the top of a twig and the other was hovering with its face close to the other fly's face. Unfortunately, my camera was in the house -- and the wrong lens was on the camera. By the time I got outside, I only had time for a couple of quick shots and wasn't entirely happy with the results. But it was so cool, I want to share it even though the photograph quality is bad enough that if it wasn't for the behavior, I'd have deleted the image.

Eventually I might learn to always take my camera outside, even if I don't expect to use it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October 1, 2006

On Sunday, I took photos of a Snowberry Clearwing (Lepidoptera Sphingidae Hemaris diffinis) caterpillar. This individual was the uncommon brown form.

Other insects for the day included ants guarding a herd of treehoppers (tentatively identified as Membracidae Publilia sp). A horntail (Hymenoptera Siricidae Tremex columba) zipped through the woods landing on tree trunks. This one was circling down the trunk. I wonder if they always do that. Horntail larvae feed on fungi and wood in tree trunks. The females prepare the selected oviposition site by injecting a fungus with the eggs.