Life has been especially busy of late, but I've been seeking interesting flora and fauna between speaking gigs, writing, and work with modest success. I love football, and like to catch as many Ohio State games as possible, which is maybe half of them if I'm lucky. Yesterday was one of those football Saturdays when I was in town, so I headed up to watch the game with my parents, at their wonderfully wildscaped home in Worthington.
At the half, I trotted out to the backyard, where interesting animals can nearly always be found. Fortunately, I had the Canon T3i in tow, as I spotted the following beast, straight out of BizzaroWorld.
I have searched around a bit for information on this species, but have found little beyond its feeding habits. This species of picture-winged fly - there are dozens of other species - feeds primarily on rotting vegetation. Apparently fallen, overripe fruit is often used, and that would make sense as there is a crabapple that has shed plenty of fruit nearby. The larvae wallow about in the mushy old fruit, and eventually morph into the rather attractive fly shown in these photos.
Insofar as I know, adult Delphinia picta flies are completely vegetarian, like their larvae. Any attempt to look like and act like a bad guy would just be bluff, to dissuade legitimate bad guys from making a move.
Highbanks Metro Park to conduct a symposium on "singing insects". This gig stemmed from an article that I wrote on Orthopteran insects which just appeared in the Franklin County Metro Parks quarterly magazine ParksScope. I appreciate the magazine's editor, Virginia Gordon, inviting me to pen this piece, and plastering my photo of a broad-winged bush katydid, Scudderia pistillata, on the cover!
We limited the lecture/night hike to 25 people, as any more than that and the group becomes unwieldy in the field. And as always, I wondered if anyone would be interested enough in bugs to sign up. I need not have worried - it filled quickly, and a waiting list formed as well. People are enchanted with the singing insects, and I think much of this fascination stems from familiarity. Virtually everyone who ventures out at night, even if only to the backyard, hears the great wall of sound put up by the nocturnal six-legged fiddlers. When presented with an opportunity to learn more about them, many people are interested.
Someone in our group last night - wish I could remember who! - spotted The Asteroid, much to the delight of the crowd. We also saw and heard plenty of singing insects, our primary target, but this Asteroid was a huge bonus.
Thanks to Elizabeth Fields, naturalist at Highbanks Metro Park, for helping with the program and field trip, and to the other park naturalists that attended and helped find The Asteroids and many other interesting creatures of the night.