Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Insect Fliers

Last year I saw an extra abundance of Robber Flies. These large, hairy predators lined the walking paths, waiting to dart out and seize some small flying prey. So far this year, they’ve been rather scarce. This mating pair is working hard to see that the population increases.

Crane flies are beginning to become more abundant. This one was acting even more ungraceful than your average Crane Fly and landed on this leaf after falling off the one above. Judging by the light color, I’m going to attribute its bumbling flight to the possibility that it just recently emerged as an adult.

Giant Swallowtail butterflies are having a super year. I’ve been seeing three or four at a time around the Monarda patch. Unfortunately, I have yet to get a shot of one of these gorgeous creatures that’s in focus. They keep their wings in constant motion and tend to hover rather than settle on the flower. As abundant as they are now, I should have several opportunities to get that elusive focused shot.

Bee Flies are great. They look threatening, but don’t bite or even bother to investigate humans. Many have coloration along the wing veins that makes them more attractive than a lot of the small, brown skippers. In fact, they often resemble butterflies when seen perched on a flower, their primary food source. The larvae are parasitic, but fortunately for us, they parasitize insects.

Well, it’s not flying yet, but it will be before long. This Monarch caterpillar is at rest beneath a milkweed leaf. Signs of feeding were quite evident at the top of the plant. It wasn’t until I got my face almost to the ground that I could see what had been doing the feeding. Despite the abundance of milkweeds at Blue Jay Barrens, I rarely see Monarch caterpillars. It’s always a joy when I do.

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