A photographic journal exploring the smaller--and often overlooked!--natural wonders encountered "off the beaten path" at the Virginia Living Museum. New entries posted every two weeks.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Bugs & Blooms 2
I've been out stalking bugs with my camera again, and I found a lot of interesting insects on some Queen Anne's lace...first, a flower scarab beetle--what cool markings!
Lots of wasps were also attracted to this wildflower...first a potter wasp, so named because the female will make a mud ball nest in which to lay her eggs....
....The second kind of wasp I found was a great black wasp, also a type of solitary wasp that will dig tunnels underground. The female will paralyze an insect and lay an egg on it--when the larva hatches out it has fresh food. The adult wasps will feed off nectar, however.
Milkweed plants and flowers attract all sorts of insects--I know you're thinking of monarch caterpillars, but I haven't seen any yet. What I did find were hundreds of aphids on the underside of the milkweed leaves:
I know, a bit freaky, especially up-close. Not to worry, the insect cavalry was on its way--well sort of. Here's a ladybug larva--adult ladybugs are fierce aphid hunters!
Also amidst the milkweed seed pods were milkweed bugs--here are two mating:
Up top, the milkweed blossoms attracted a variety of bees:
And speaking of bees, I watched several different types of bees zoom around bee balm flowers (also known as bergamot; native to North America, there are several species and cultivars, but the genus name is Monarda) Here's a honey bee--hmmm, perhaps from our Museum's hive?
And a carpenter bee--notice the hairless, shiny black abdomen?
Carpenter bees are zippy, fast fliers and will stop and hover in front of your face if you get too close. The males, distinguished by a white dot on their face, tend to hover more than females, but they cannot sting. Females can sting, but aren't very aggressive as long as you don't threaten them. This one is zooming towards some bright yellow St. John's wort flowers:
In contrast, note the fuzzy abdomen of bumblebees (also notice the pollen baskets on the hind legs)--this one is on the flowers of a bottlebrush buckeye:
That's all for now....more off the beaten path in two weeks!