Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Great Lobelia with Insects

This is sort of a slack time for flowers at Blue Jay Barrens. The summer bloomers are finishing and the fall asters and goldenrods have just begun. The Great Lobelia, Lobelia silphilitica, is a species that tends to bridge the gap and provide a strong nectar source during early September.

Tiny bees have swarmed to these flowers, but most have been drinking nectar through cuts at the base of the flower instead of crawling inside.

There is a slit down the top of the bloom that reaches to the base, but it’s not normally open enough to allow nectar to be extracted. Some of the bees seemed to be chewing to create an easier access point.

Other bees actually entered the flower in the more traditional manner. It seemed to be a struggle for most of them to squeeze inside, so perhaps the difficulty of squeezing in through the front of the flower acts as encouragement to try the alternate method.

The temporary shortage of flowers has caused some predators, such as this Ambush Bug, to heavily invade the Lobelias. This bug hunts by hanging around flowers to capture visiting nectar feeders.

Maybe this is why so many bees were trying the backdoor approach to feeding here. The Ambush Bug grabbed this bee with its hooked foreleg and quickly pulled it behind the petal. The bees greatly outnumbered the Ambush Bugs, so I’m sure the bee population won’t suffer too much.


  1. Hi Steve..Oh I really like that Lobelia plant nice color to!!
    That Ambush bug is a stange looking creature...I guess everything has to eat and if thats what works for yah... oh well!!
    Good stuff!!

  2. Hi grammie g. With the hook that Ambush Bug uses, I don't think anything could get away.

  3. I agree with you there. Lobelia was so great. My mom like that. Wish I can also add that in my garden. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Oh! Those flowers caught my attention. It seems you have a great flower gardens. How I wish I could have a cool garden like yours. Keep it up!


  5. You're welcome, Yumi.

    Thanks, Toni.

  6. I just saw an ambush bug just like this on a downy lobelia! Amazing color likeness to the flower. Great camo