Thursday, June 21, 2012

Up The Creek Again

Belated post from the weekend. Thank you Blogger for the new updated version that now means I can't blog from the office because the prehistoric version of Windows isn't supported anymore.

So, anyway I took a couple of hours at Hoffler creek as a part of Father's day. I picked the first day that the mosquitoes really came out in force. The year so far hadnt been to bad but Sunday, the moment I got out of the car the evil little buggers were whining in my ears. Even the steady breeze didnt keep them off. 

But there was plenty to see to make up for the irritation. I kept out of the woods because they wre going to be loaded with ticks, one set of blood-suckers was enough without going looking for more.

It was a little thin butterfly-wise but there were a few very nice Horace's Duskywings looking dark and sharp and freshly emerged.

One or two tiny Azures too feeding on the clover. Usually the best butterflies at Hoffler in summer are found in the sunny breaks in the trees around the lake. But the flowers they prefer, the blackberries, had already been and gone. Early this year there were no flowers but that meant blackberries to nibble on for yours truly.

The dragonflies also seemed to be a little scarce on Sunday. I saw more species on my own pond last week than I saw at Hoffler on Sunday.

Male Four Spotted Pennant

and the female.

Male Needham's Skimmer and damselfly meal.

Halloween Pennant

Mating pair of damsels still waiting for an ID

But no Saddlebags either Black or Carolina and no Darners that I could see either.

I did find some fun beetles though.

This is the Groundselbush Beetle Trirhabda bacharidis. I'd never seen one before but there were hundreds of them on the Groundselbushes and they are not members of the Skeletonising Leaf Beetle sub family for nothing.

And a rather different Ladybird (OK Ladybug) the Multicoloured Asian Harmonia axyridis pleasingly bright and shiny .

But the pictures I liked best werent bugs at all, but were still invertebrates. The creek and the slat marshes are always full of crabs but mostly they are down in the mud and grass and difficult to see. But Sunday I stumbled over a couple out in plain sight just asking for pictures
This little beast is going to grow up to be a Chesapeake Blue Crab. A delicacy so I'm told though they always taste a little muddy to me.

But this ones bigger and closer.
A Fiddler Crab that wandered across my path as I walked down to the salt marsh and this picture really does show the contrast between the two claws. What a handsome little beast he is.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

From A Distance

Back in April when I found the Baskettail in the yard and pond for the first time , while I couldn't say precisely what species they were because they are pretty much all identical I could say they werent Prince Baskettails because they are very large and have very distinctive wing patterning. A lot like this actually!

or like this
Distinctive enough to be recognised from 30 feet away if you have a long lense and the patience to shoot 100 pictures where these are the only two worth saving.
But there it is,  Epitheca princeps the Prince baskettail. Now this thing never stops it cruises the pond back and forth at high speed and never got closer than 30 feet. At Bugguide, the Blue Dasher, an invetereate percher has 30 page of thumbnails  thats around 750 pictures. The Prince Baskettail has less than 50 pictures in total of which over half are snatched in- flight pics like mine or larvae. That make 2 new dragonfly species on the pond this year. Three new photographed species if we include the Black Saddlebags that I knew were there but hadn't got pictures

Also have a new spider this week, shot on Jr's old playhouse again. Hence the blue plastic background.

The closest ID I can get from the folks at BugGuide is Family Philodromidae, the Running Crab Spiders. This is a male by the way. This was the fastest thing Ive ever seen on 8 legs or 6 legs for that matter. I lost it between shots and was looking under the roof edge a couple of inches away for it hiding out. But then I saw that it was already about 4 feet away on the other side of the roof. It covered that distance is seconds despite being only about a 1/2 inch across those long long legs. The scale speed was just astonishing.

It is also the seemingly brief Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) season. It looks like these have already come and gone for the summer

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Such A Lot To See

The past week has turned from a delightful 70 degress to a sweltering 90 this weekend. And there has been plenty to see out and about the neighbourhood all week.

Across the street in the park today I fond this nice immature male Common White tail
And then also in the park was this male Great Blue Skimmer. Not one I see a lot around here and one I know I havent posted on Banished's Bugs before

The pond was very very busy with the heat being what it is. But while the heat brings eveything out it also means they are mainly buzzing around like maniacs and barely settling to rest. I could see a whole host of Needham's Skimmers zooming back and forth but couldnt get a show of any of them. I thought the same was going to be true of the Saddlebags too. These things never ever perch so far as Ive seen and I thought Id be out luck again until the mating pair appeared. They mate on the wing and oviposit on the wing too but at least all the action slows them down sufficiently to grab a picture or two.Like so:
I think these are Black Saddlebags  Tramea lacerata . The name comes from the big dark patches at the base of the wings that supposedly look like...saddlebags.

Elsewhere, in the yard  most of the butterflies to be seen were American Painted Ladies Vanessa virginiensis. Very like the Painted Lady Vanessa cardui I knew from the UK which occurs here too. The best way to tell them apart is from the underwings. I'll search out underwings for both to post later. Meanwhile this week the American Painted here did escape the attention of the crab spider.
The spider retired back into the buddleia flowers as it wasn't vey well camouflaged otherwise. They can range from white through yellow to green according to where they are hanging out. But deep purple is beyond its mimic ability.

And in the front yard our Yucca has a 6 foot spike of white flowers that is full, as every year with these leaf Footed Bugs Leptoglossus phyllopus. Understandably we at Chez Banished call them the Yucca Bugs.

Friday, June 1, 2012

In Concert

The second of the two early Swallowtails duly emerged on Sunday morning. Usefully for the blog it turned out to be a female which gives us an excellent opportunity to compare the two for ID purposes.

If we look back at Saturday's specimen we can see all that yellow on the upper surface of the wings. But looking at Sundays we see:
Very little yellow at all particularlly on the forewings.

Lots of activity this hot weekend. What looked like the first Needhams skimmer perched momentarily on the fence Sunday but was away before I got close enough and over said fence to next door.

Interesting and colourful true bug nymph on one of the trees Sunday too.

This is apparently a Florida Predatory Stink Bug nymph Euthyrhynchus floridanus. Striking colours.  After the BugGuide ID I looked at the adult picture and realised that I had seen it and photographed it before way back in 2004 during my 'idle' summer before I had my work permit and my long days were filled with ferretting around the yard, digging new flower beds, fixing stuff on the house and deck and photographing with my then new little camera, the Olympus that I now let Banished Jr. use.
2004's adult Florida Predatory Stink Bug

That was a good camera for all but the closest macro and it had an admirable depth of field. May of that year, when I had all that free time it got me some very nice  Northern Green Frog Lithobates clamitans melanota that I havent got nearly as good since. I thought this was a bullfrog but as usual I'm wrong.
The pond margins are too over grown now and the cover is too good to get  a view like this. I know the bull frogs are out there, I hear them when ever I go down to the pond,. And booming through the warm nights. The best are nights when the Green frogs too are singing. These move in and out of synch the whole thing producing a Steve Reich-ian amphibian concert night after night... If you can stand the mosquitoes long enough to sit out side and listen.