Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Two cool bugs


A Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes, taps nectar from Swamp Milkweed flowers. The butterfly is huge and extraordinary, the largest species found in Ohio. This one thrilled our field trip participants at Cedar Bog last Sunday with close fly-bys and nectar visits.

We were there as a field trip that was part of the annual Midwest Native Plant Conference (our 12th one) near Dayton. After having to skip last year due to Covid, it was great to once again have the conference. It was at a slightly reduced level due to facility restrictions, but nonetheless there were 150 attendees and all went great. Kudos to the organizers for a tremendous job. If you haven't been, try to make it next year. It does fill up quickly, take note.

An important part of the conference is a legion of vendors, all selling native flora. We are always amazed at the incredible diversity of plants that are available, including hard to find species. I took home some botanical goodies, including a nice specimen of Wafer-ash, Ptelea trifoliata. This shrub/treelet is one of only two host plants in our region for the Giant Swallowtail. Who knows, with some luck maybe my plant will lure a female in to lay eggs on it.

I have a robust stand of Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, in the front yard. The flowers are constantly awash in Bumble Bees (Bombus ssp.) and I was out there yesterday observing them. When in flew this beautiful pollinator, the Two-spotted Longhorn Bee, Melissodes bimaculata. It is a striking animal, garbed mostly in ebony. But check out the long "furry" hairs on those back legs, which are doused with yellow pollen!

It's rewarding to merely step out the front door and see all manner of cool animal life like this bee, all attracted to the native flora planted in the "gardens". Right along the sidewalk to the front door is a lush stand of Partridge-pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata, and it is in full bloom. I want to write a pictorial piece about that soon. Partridge-pea is beset with tiny glands known as extrafloral nectaries and the cast of entomological characters - primarily wasps - that visit those is amazing. In short order yesterday morning, I think I photographed five wasp species on the nectaries, plus some other insects.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I've been watching these black bees on my flowers the past week.
I really do not know if I have seen or noticed them in my Knox
county yard before. Lucky me that you are showing them off and now
I can identify them. Thank you, Lynn