20170630 Hoverfly, Bombus tenarius, European Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Dun Skipper, Thread-waisted Wasp, Ambush spiders, Bee-mimic Flower Beetle, Pitcher Plant

Photo:  Big Lake from Highway 529

End of June saw increased activity of pollinators, especially hoverflies who are also known as flower flies or syrphid flies.   If I stop and look at a fresh Ox Eye daisy I’ll usually see a variety of bees and hoverflies visiting to collect nectar and pollen from the center yellow portion.  The insect family Syrphidae has over 800 species in North America. They perform a huge role as pollinators and recent studies have shown that many species’ larvae are effective  in preying on garden pests such as aphids.  No wonder organic gardeners are delighted to see hoverflies.   Although many species mimic bees, wasps and other biting/stinging insects, hoverflies are harmless.  This downloadable Key to the Genera of Nearctic Syrphidae is a wonderfully illustrated and written key to identifying hoverflies … at least down to the Genus level.  I just found it and will be using it as time permits, keeping in mind that IDing insects at the species level can be a very time consuming thing, especially since the taxonomies are constantly, like most science, changing.

In the meantime here are a couple of pix of a hoverfly, Eristalis  spp(?), I think, nectaring (and pollinating) Common Yarrow.


This looks like an Orange Belted Bumblebee, Bombus ternarius ,collecting nectar from the florets of an Ox Eye Daisy.  Click on the image to enlarge it and check out the arrangement of the florets at the bottom of the photograph.

See Joe Bartok’s Brief Primer on ‘Aster’ology  to see how this inflorescence is organized.  Bartok’s web site is very good.

Another hoverfly of a different sort …

This European Skipper is feasting on nectar before going back to its common habitat — hayfields.

Peck’s Skipper on a leaf of a Spreading Dogbane, a relative of the Common Milkweed.

A break from all these bugs:

Did you see the fly on the iris above?!  There is no escaping them!

I think that this Dun Skipper is one of the Three Witches —“3 small, dark, difficult-to-separate skippers that fly at the same time in similar habitats.”  The other two are Little Glassy Wing and Northern Broken Dash.  Here is Rick Cavasin’s photos of the Dun Skipper.


A Thread-waisted Wasp:    (I think that it is an Ammophilia)

This might be a Potter (or Mason) Wasp on the OED.

Looks like the common Apis mellifera to me, on Viper’s Bugloss …

One of the “Beeflies” of Ontario, methinks.

What is going on here????

The Crab Spider has parted the florets to grab the Flower Chafer as it was nectaring on the OED.  The Flower Chafer is the same as the Bee-Mimic Flower Beetle which illustrated the difficulty with common names.  But I use Bee-Mimic Flower Beetle instead of T. assimilis because it is more descriptive and easier to remember than some historical botanist’s name.


Here are a pair of Bee-Mimic Flower Beetles in happier times.   And here is a good article on pollinator mimicry, which helps to explain why identifying these rascals is so difficult … for me, at least.


Uh, Oh!  Another  (Ground?) Crab Spider laying in wait ….

A break from the bugs:

Yes, the blossom of a slowly maturing Pitcher Plant.

Back to the Bugs ….

Including yet another Crab Spider …

What do you see here?   Does any word spring to mind?

Alex celebrates Canada 150



6 thoughts on “20170630 Hoverfly, Bombus tenarius, European Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Dun Skipper, Thread-waisted Wasp, Ambush spiders, Bee-mimic Flower Beetle, Pitcher Plant

  1. Absolutely stunning shots. You sure know your stuff Tom. Can’t even imagine how long you have to sit in a wet swamp to get these pictures. Love the iris – my favourite when I lived there…together with the daisy. Great work. Hope you’re working on a book.

    • Thanks Pat!
      Actually I don’t sit in the swamp, Pat, especially not this year, with its abundant crop of black flies, mosquitoes and, now, deer and horse flies! All of those photos were taken along side roads from the relative comfort of my car seat.
      I meander along the wrong, left, side of the road keeping reasonably alert for any traffic and interesting critters.
      Sometimes folks see the camera and stop to ask, “Where’s the moose?”. They seem disappointed when I tell them “No moose, wild iris. See it?”
      It is especially amusing in the winter when my car leaves track. A local OPP officer was intrigued last winter when he followed my tracks in a new snowfall on the old highway coming North from Pointe au Baril. He saw tracks weaving their way northbound early one Sunday morning and thought he was hot on the trail of some Byng Inleter struggling to get home after a “Saturday Night” in PAB.
      He had a good chuckle. And he appreciated the backlit new snow when I pointed out the scene I was trying to capture.
      No book yet. I have yet to stumble on a theme. Any suggestions?

      • As far as atheme is concerned…I love all your shots, including the wider angle scenery. But I think my favourite are the “up close and personal” pics of the flowers, foliage, insects etc., that I would never otherwise really notice. Perhaps you could call it “Zooming in, with Tom.” 😊

      • Thanks Pat,
        I tried to reply earlier but my magic fingers experienced a glitch so you might see some gobbledegook here.
        A few years ago I started a “Blurb” book, NE Georgian Bay Revealed, a book chronicling the seasons in this neck of the woods.
        Then I started the blog.
        Then I had a hard drive failure, lost my editing and never got back to the book.
        Then I got the new telephoto lens.
        And got intrigued with pollinating insects which is my current frenzy.
        I suspect that I am trying to counter the “National Geographic Syndrome” with afflicts folks with the notion that they have to travel to other parts of the world to see its natural wonders. Of course we can see nature in all its wonder in our neighbourhood if we would only look. Stop and look. Sorta like Huxley’s Mynah Bird that shouted Attention! in Island. Or like the preachings of “mindfulness”.

        Speaking of preaching, that is what I’m starting to do.
        I don’t want the book to preach. I just want it to be enjoyable and engaging with the added benefit of encouraging folks to stop and look —– in these days of technobotic distraction into the worlds of abstracted and vicarious experiences.
        Howzdat for a mouthful, eh?
        I think that you can get my drift tho.

  2. Thank you Ton for for these lovely views of our small wonders .. partial to the Iris and your last pix and the word is “dreamy”. xoxo

    • Hi Kris,
      Many thanks for your generous comments. I also like the wild iris versacolor. It is simpler and more direct (?) than the cultivated varieties.
      Dreamy? I keep seeing the word “JEOPARDY” when I look at that patch of Pickerel Weed. I don’t “read” much of anything when I go by if the wind is blowing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s