Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smooth Sumac Insects

Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, is just beginning to bloom.  I have an abundance of this plant along the trail leading up the hill behind the house.  It gets mowed about every three years and blooms heavily the second year after mowing.  The result is a massive display of blooms at just about eye level.  It’s just perfect for viewing visiting insects.

A flower head forms at the end of each branch.  Smooth Sumac is a common species that is recognized by its hairless stems.

The buzz of nectar eaters never ceases.  Bees, wasps, flies and beetles are frequent visitors of these flowers.  Hairstreak butterflies also make use of this nectar, but I have yet to see any of the hairstreak species this year.

Tachinid Flies were the noisiest of the various visitors.  Tachinids come in a variety of sizes and colors, but my preference is for these large types.

Tachinid larvae develop inside a living host, usually a specific insect species.  The adult flies are so numerous it’s almost impossible not to see them when you’re in the field.  Despite seeing thousands of adults, I’ve never seen a host insect containing a Tachinid larva.

This is a Yellow-collared Scape Moth.  I see this day flier on many different flower species that produce large flower heads.  The moth tends to take advantage of the flower cluster to partially hide itself while feeding.
Beetles abound in the flower cluster.  Most try to remain hidden among the small flowers.

I think this is some type of Soft Winged Flower Beetle.  I couldn’t tell if it was actually feeding inside the flower or searching for something on the outside.

Of course the little green bees were there.  I have yet to find a flower that doesn’t attract these bees.

I think sumacs are one of the preferred flowers of Bumblebees.  I always find an abundance of Bumblebees on these blooms.  I like to watch flowers because of the wide assortment of insects that they attract.  When they are busy feeding, insects are easy to approach and observe.  I’ll be spending a lot of time around the sumacs for the next week or so in hopes of seeing something new and unusual.


  1. The variety of insects on one type of plant is amazing. Your posts provide a good reminder to look at everything more closely so as not to miss some of the smallest wonders of nature.

  2. Thanks Pat. That's a message I'm trying to convey with this blog.