Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flower Garden Safari

Since I don't get too many opportunities to go out for extended birding or photo excursions, I take what I can get. I made the commitment to myself at the end of August to take my camera to work with me every day for the next month, just so that I have it on hand. If I get a chance to take a "field trip" at lunch, or just happen across something interesting or intriguing during the drive to or from the office, I've got my trusty Canon at hand and ready to shoot.


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The other day on the way to pick the kids up after work, I noticed a bed of tall yellow flowers lining the parking lot of a local dentist's office. Since the place was closed and the parking lot empty, I decided to pull in and snap a couple of quick pictures. I had no idea that flower garden would end up being a two-day safari full of insect life.

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[WARNING: If you are at all squeamish about insects, you might want to stop reading right about now...]

To begin, the bees were out in full force, zipping from one tall bloom to another.

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(You can click most of the images to see a close-up version of the featured critter.)

There seemed to be two or three different varieties of wasps on hand as well, although this is the only one I was able to capture on film.

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I spotted three different butterflies flitting about the garden, including a yellow one that had to have been almost as big as my palm. Unfortunately, this little Gray Hairstreak is the only one I managed to catch (in focus — gotta work on my action shots!).

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I love how the red spot and the scissortail-like extensions on his wings make it look like a two-headed creature of some sort.

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I also spotted these insects on one bulb only. They were larger than an ant, red with black legs, and little black spiky things along their backs. (Click the image below for a better view.) I have no idea what these were, but they weren't mixing with any of the other wildlife. Even the bees were staying clear of that bloom.

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Yesterday, Cowboy had a doctor appointment right after school, and we stopped back by the same garden on the way to pick up Cat. He had a blast helping me find even more bugs to photograph.

Our first catch was a couple of love bugs. With emphasis on the "love."

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We also saw a different kind of wasp than I had captured before. This one was lighter and more reddish in color, with thin bands of yellow along his abdomen. My guess is it's a paper wasp of some sort, but I can't get any more specific than that.

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We also found more of the red and black mystery bugs from my previous visit, this time with a better range of size and color.

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Another wasp, this one more of a solid brown thorax darkening to black on the abdomen. This looks more like what we have always called "red wasps" (except it's maybe a little darker), but I don't have any idea of the actual name.

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We got a better shot of the thread-waisted wasp from before. Click on the image below for an even better view of the extremity of the long, thin waist stretching from thorax to abdomen. This may be some kind of mud dauber, but I don't know for sure.

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We found another unknown, this small orange and black critter that seemed to be carrying around (and possibly snacking on) a smaller love bug.

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We almost missed this stink bug that was hiding under the dead lower petals of one of the stalks. At a different angle, he actually looked more like a dead leaf than anything else. Good camouflage.

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The funny thing is that after all those different kinds of insects, and all the fun we had looking for them, the one picture that Cowboy got the most excited about was this one:

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Go figure.

2 comments:

KatDoc said...

Hi, Kyle, thanks for visiting my goldenrod post. I am not a "bug-ologist," but I have some good resources: Kaufman's Field Guide to Insects, WhatsThatBug.com and BugGuide.Net on-line.

Your red and black mystery bugs are the nymphs of milkweed bugs (link to Bug Guide photo: http://bugguide.net/node/view/30901 - I don't know how to make the link "clickable.")

Your orange and black bug looks a little bit like mine and might be a member of the same family, Cantharidae (Soldier Beetles, Leatherwings.)

Like the Hairstreak photo.

~Kathi

Kyle said...

Kathi, thanks for the info! I've used WhatsThatBug.com a few times, but hadn't seen the others. I'll definitely bookmark them!