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



20170627 Clearwing Butterfly, Bumblebee, Hoverfly, Copper Butterfly, Baskettail, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Harris Checkerspot, Painted Lady Butterfly, Monarch Butterfly

Above photograph:  Kalmia angustiflolia, Sheep Laurel, in full bloom in a peat bog along Hwy 529.


A few hours of respite from the rain and wind gave some opportunities for further exploration along Hwy 529:

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth uncoiling its proboscis as it approaches Viper’s Bugloss…

Bombus has its refuel probe and landing gear extended as it approaches a clover blossom.

My intent was to photograph the Copper Butterfly.  I didn’t see the  spider waiting in ambush until I looked into the viewfinder.  I wonder if the stalk of grass helped the spider find this spot?

38 seconds later the spider has disappeared …

When I got home I saw where the spider had gone… 3 seconds after the earlier photo one of its legs is visible above the petal at the back of the flower.  I wish that I was looking harder at the time of exposure.  I might’ve witnessed nature in the raw.

A Common Baskettail is resting here… probably chewing and swallowing black flies…

A Hoverfly (possibly Eristalis interruptus) gathering nectar from Common Yarrow….

Three more Hoverflies, I think….

See:  https://meadowhawk.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/hover-flies/    and:


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail nectaring from a Spreading Dogbane…

Correction, especially on this Canada Day!

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail!

The “Eyes” on its underside give this butterfly away as a Painted Lady

The white spots in the dark squares on the back of the inner wings identify this butterfly as a Harris Checkerspot, whose numbers are decreasing rapidly in the US Northeast.

Here is another Vanessa cardui

The Spreading Dogbane that this Monarch is nectaring from is related to Common Milkweed.  Here is a good read:


Bee and fleeing Hoverfly …

More Hoverflies …

And a bee (click on it to see its very strange eye) …

Is this a Fowler’s Toad?  It was about 2″ tip to tail….

This Monarch was hanging out on juniper branches next to a patch of milkweeds, not yet in bloom.

Interesting sheen to the hair on the torso of this Painted Lady …

I am not sure what this (Ground Crab ?) Spider is doing here …

But it’s quite obvious what is going on here, on a different Ox Eye Daisy.

Male, uncoiling its proboscis …

Some warmer drier weather is forecast for July.  I suspect that we’ll see an abundance of pollinators —- and their predators.



20170623 Rainy Day, hoverfly, Crab spider, Tarnished Plant Bug, Japanese Beetle, Cedar Waxwing, Great Blue Heron, White Water Lily, Wood Satyr, Tamarack Cones

On the way back from the Norse Brewery (along Hwy 69, off  Woods Road) we stopped to make some pictures of nature in the rain.  Here are some of them:

Tragopogon dubius (yellow salsify,[1] western salsify, western goat’s-beard, wild oysterplant, yellow goat’s beard, goat’s beard, goatsbeard, common salsify, salsify) gathering some raindrops…

A Tarnished Plant Bug resting on an Ox Eye Daisy petal:  Also: TPB

Click on this photo to see the water droplets on the various parts of this Crab Spider.

Notice the discarded parts of an earlier meal of this Crab Spider ….

What are those little red balls on this Syrphid Fly, (Toxomerus geminatus ?) aka Hoverfly or Flower Fly?

Green beetle enjoying the water droplets …

Japanese beetle (?) out in the rain, with water droplets on its exoskeleton.

Wet grass …

Wet day lilies…

Another hover fly …

5 Cedar Waxwings and a smaller birdie on a snag…

Duck doing a low pass over a GBH.

Little Wood Satyr on a dry leaf, under the canopy …

Fragrant White Water Lilies are ascending now…

This is the first time that I have noticed the Tamarack cones change from purplish to pale green.  Apparently I am not alone.

Mark Berkery just posted some more amazing images.