Monday, July 21, 2014

Forever Catching Up

It does seem these days that I'm always catching up with pictures taken and not yet downloaded. Typically here are pictures from 3 recent days. 

Thursday 17th July at Hoffler Creek
There were enormous numbers of dragonflies just everywhere but it was one of those counterproductive days. There were so  many that for every settled percher there were 3 or 4 more harrassing for the perch and so hardly anything settled long enough for a picture. Plus it seems to be a particularly bad summer for ticks and its not conducive to wading through the longer grass if your going to be picking blood suckers off your legs (or worse places) for the rest of the day. Finally I only got a couple of barely worthwhile shots but I did feast well on blackberries.
Female Needham's Skimmer (Libellula needhami
 Diogmites esuriens the Hanging Thief which I never catch doing it 'hanging' trick. They apparently like to hang by their front pair of legs from foliage.

Friday 18th July at Bennetts Creek Park
We hadn't been out to Bennett's Creek in a couple of years and it seems like the developers are determined to entirely surround the park with new homes. But its still a nice mix of somewhere for the kids to play, a river frontage with banks full of fiddler crabs and some woodland trails.Banished Jr always loves the playground but he also loves the thousands of fiddler crabs to be watched and chased on the creek bank and the woods just behind. When your the only one to disturb them in a while its like a wave of crabs heading for the water and for burrows. Think 'World War Z' with crabs. And about as fast too so not easy to get a good shot.
Red Jointed Fiddler Crab male (Uca minax). Only the male has the single enlarged  claw. 
(Philanthus gibbosus) 
The Bee Wolf no less ! It seems while this little beast feeds on nectar as an adult, the larvae feed on bees paralysed by the mother for their delectation.

 Saturday 19th July Norfolk Botanical Garden
Saturday was the Butterfly Festival and as expected the place was packed. But.... its a big garden and so packed is a relative term. There was still plenty of space and peace so long as you kept away from the children's garden and the butterfly house. Yes you really don't want to go to the butterfly house on butterfly day. Just way too crowded and the poor guides trying to stop the hordes trampling everything underfoot. Thankfully just about anything you could see inside on Saturday you could see flying free outside, it just took more patience. The gardens are making a huge effort this year to encourage the planting of milkweed in all its forms to encourage and support Monarchs in their movements up and down the East Coast. The plants sale Mothers day weekend and the sale Saturday both had lots of milkweed varieties and the gardens have planted more than ever. So milkweeds of all sorts were everywhere, as were the bugs that go with them. Lots of Monarchs feeding but I didnt actually see any caterpillars all day. 
But lots of Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and their nymphs at various stages.
Mating adults
Newly hatched nymphs
and those a little older at different stages.

The Swamp Milkweed flowers in particular were popular weeding sites for the Monarch butterflies and for bees and wasps. Two large and spectacular wasps.

The Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) 

and the Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus). I've seen this one on previous occasions bringing prey back to its burrows. They feed their young on paralysed grasshoppers and katydids and often fly in with prey at least as large as them selves and often larger

And this striking orange/red Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira Carolina).
 And finally but sadly a little blurry is the young Black and Yellow Argiope. Its not yet black and yellow and the blur is due to a combination of the camera struggling to find the spider against that patch if fluffed silk that it has put in the center of the web and the spider doing its 'bouncing' act. It sets up and oscillation in the web and gently bounces the whole thing back and forth. Both these features seem to be defensive behaviors. They certainly fool the camera.
And yes I know there aren't any butterfly pictures from the butterfly festival. No good reason other than sheer bloody-mindedness.  


  1. (1) MAGNIFICENT blackberry photo! It evokes blackberry-ness marvelously well. My soul filled with southwest Virginia blackberry memories. (I used to make SEEDLESS blackberry jams every summer. Like maybe 30 or 40 jars!)

    (2) Fiddler crabs! I haven't seen one since I was a kid. We would catch them and try to make them live in the crab condos we built in the sand.

    (3) Milkweed bugs: My kids and I always loved those orange and black bugs.

    (4) Black wasps: We used to shudder with dread when we saw them. There were so many different kinds of wasps.

    (5) As usual, lovely photos of lovely things!

    1. There are SO many different wasps but honestly over here they really don't bother me. Back in the UK the vespula species, yellow jackets as we call them over here, were the eternal vanes of the short British summer. They were where ever people, food and drinks were and they make outdoor eating about impossible. Mrs. B never believed me until we tried to eat outside in the shadow of the Forth Bridge. She knows now. Now with the exception of the yellowjacket

  2. ...wasps here just seem to have much better things to do than to bother humans. Hunting caterpillars (including our Black Swalllowtails on occasion) or carrying off crickets or building ornate palaces of mud, we are largely beneath there interest