Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wasps and Other Mud Puddle Visitors

During early afternoon on the day before the Toad Pool went dry, I spent a couple of hours photographing visitors to the rapidly shrinking puddle. During this session I concentrated more on short videos than on stills.

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A single, newly morphed toad is a couple weeks behind the hoard that emerged from the pool a few weeks ago. This little guy has only been a land dweller for a short time, but it already displays the mannerisms of an adult.  Click HERE for YouTube version.

The most noticeable visitors to the pool were wasps loading up on water. The wasps were light enough to ride the surface tension of the water as they drank.

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Several species of paper wasps took advantage of this dwindling water supply. A few mud wasps also flew in, but they all left with only water.  Click HERE for YouTube version.

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The paper wasp in this video doesn’t seem to be intimidated by the beetle larva attacking it from the rear. It’s probably a good thing the larva couldn’t get hold of the wasp, or it might’ve been pulled right out of the water.  Click HERE for YouTube version.

A small wolf spider stalked the mud flats.  It was particularly interested in the movement of what appeared to be a small insect near the edge of the pool. What wasn’t immediately obvious was the fact that the small insect was held in the jaws of a much larger aquatic beetle larva.

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The spider finally attempts an attack on the small insect, but is driven back when the beetle larva begins to thrash its head. Immediately after the head thrashing, the beetle larva scoops a small bit of mud into his breathing snorkel, located just to the right of the thrashing head, and shoots a mud ball at the place the spider had just been.  An interesting defense mechanism.  Click HERE for YouTube version.

Several butterflies took advantage of the wet mud to imbibe some mineral laden water. The most persistent of these was a common Buckeye.

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The temperature at the time this video was made was 93°F and there was a strong wind blowing. You can see the puddling butterfly occasionally buffeted by the wind. I was pretty much baked all the way through by the time I called an end to this photography session.  Click HERE for YouTube version.

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