Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Afternoon with insects

A few weeks ago I took a trip up to Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area just to see what I could discover.  After the Nature Leadership Training course I have been very aware of insects so it is no surprise I found lots of them. But I was surprised to see the variety and a couple of new ones for me.

On the road leading to the lake I made a couple of stops to take photos of the butterflies. This year we seem to have an abundance of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and I never tire of looking at them.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail --Papilio glaucus

Silver-Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is the largest skipper in my area. Here it is nectaring on thistle.

I saw a few of these metallic colored Dogbane Beetles (Chrysochus auratus). They look even shinier than in this photo.

Here is a member of the Diptera family, a Bee fly.  It was mimicking a bee but I wasn't fooled.

That bright orange insect is a day flying moth.  It also flies at night and often comes to my porch light. It is an Ailanthus Webworm moth (Atteva punctella).  The larval form feeds on Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven).

This cove on Sleepy Creek Lake is one of my favorite spots.  I have even seen beaver here and countless numbers of dragonflies. Today I found a couple of new insects.

Hummmm....what is inside this leaf roll?

When I opened it up this walking stick like insect quickly crawled out. Eventually it settled down and aligned itself with the mid-vein of this leaf  thinking it was hidden from view. I didn't get a good photo but it actually laid down on the vein and drew its legs to its sides and pointed the antenna forward. I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't see it crawling around first.  This is an assassin bug in subfamily Emesinae of the Reduviidae family. The common name is Thread Legged Bug. 

Aphids but something is missing...ants.  I don't recall ever seeing aphids without ants nearby.  Ants guard aphids and in turn sip the honey dew that they excrete.  Below is a close up that I took through my hand lens and you can see the tiny drops just waiting to be harvested.  I wonder what happened to the ant colony.

I just finished reading E.O. Wilson's novel Anthill and I wondered if the ants that usually farm these aphids were taken over by a super colony as described in his account of the demise of the Trailhead colony.  Without ants taking the honey dew I am curious to know what will happen to these aphids and all that liquid at the end of their butts.

Dragonflies were all about. This one is a Yellow-legged Meadowhawk - Sympetrum vicinum.

Another rolled up leaf brought this spider to my attention. 

It is a Paraphidippus aurantius female spider and the very bright orange and metallic green is caused by iridescent scales. They are not very common and usually found in folded leaves like this one.  I chased it all around the the leaf trying to get a photo and it did not drop down to the ground like most spiders do. I suspect this one had eggs inside the leaf that it was guarding.  I also think it was eating.

This little critter crossed my path as I was leaving the banks of the lake.  It is a Spring Peeper and was blending in very nicely.  If I hadn't seen it hop I would never have found it. I can't even imagine all of the critters that was watching me that I wasn't even aware of.

See more nature at Outdoor Wednesdays.


Denise said...

This is so interesting and all your photos are great. As I've grown older and am more interested in photography, my interest in insects has also grown.
An English Girl Rambles

squirrel said...

Denise, I know what you mean about an increased interest in insects. I am also beginning to notice the insect plant relationship which is fascinating but not so obvious. Thanks for your comment.

Carolyn H said...

Squirrel: I know I've seen more tiger swallowtail butterflies this summer than ever before. And like you, I don't get tired of seeing them. i've also had an abundance of pipevine swallowtails, and I've even seen more of the uncommon zebra swallowtails than I usually do. It's been a great summer for the big butterflies, that's for sure!

Carolyn H.

Ellen Rathbone said...

Nice walk. I love that Alianthus webworm moth! How lovely.

Ms. Bake-it said...

You have such a great eye for seeing all these fabulous insects. And, let's not forget the frog! I can do without spiders though. In equal parts they fascinate me and creep me out. The webs they spin are exquisite works of art.

Thank you for the fascinating walk today!

~ Tracy

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to enjoy nature! Loved the insect photos.

Joan said...

What a wonderful day of discovery!

Linda said...

What great photos you posted and I learned things I didn't know before...thanks for sharing!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I enjoy so much the variety in your posts. It makes me feel like I've been along on your nature walk. thanks for sharing!

Ian Geary said...

cool pics :) but I think your thread legged bug is just a stick insect (Phasmatodea), its legs aren't overly thread like and I think its forelegs are too long to be effectively raptorial. Also its the spitting image of some Phasmatodea.