I stopped at a big tree plum, Prunus mexicana, since it was full of flowers and many insects flying around. Below are some interesting finds beginning with the emerald green colored Augochlora bee.
|A bee, Augochlora sp. on big tree plum.|
Many bees were visiting the sweet smelling flowers of the big tree plum. It seemed to be a favorite of many bees, flies and butterflies. Even the massive (comparatively) Eastern carpenter bee was enjoying this nectar.
|Carpenter bee, Xylocopa sp., also enjoying the nectar of the big tree plum.|
At last, I spotted what I believe to be an long-horned bee, Eucerni tribe, or Osmia sp.on this plant (to be determined). Many of the Eucerna and Osmia genera are bees that come out in spring.
|A bee, possible Eucerna sp. (to be determined) on big tree plum.|
While photographing these bees I noticed a possible Andrena species posed in an unusual position and remaining uncharacteristically still.
|Possible Andrena bee sitting in a peculiar position.|
I figured something else must be keeping this bee in such a position, and sure enough there was. Blending in to the pinkish base of the flowers was an ambush bug, Phymata sp. This ambush bug, a kind of assassin bug, hides among flowers and grabs prey as it flies in. It then sticks its long straw-like mouthpart (proboscis) into the exoskeleton of the prey and sucks out the juicy innards.
|Ambush bug feeding on bee. Notice the yellowish proboscis mouth part holding up the bee.|
While watching this spring drama I noticed a bee flying to a common blue violet, Viola sororia, at my feet. I remembered there was an Andrena violae which only feeds or collects pollen on violets. I do not have this bee listed for the preserve, and hopefully after tedious microscopic keying of bee body parts, this will be a new species for the preserve.
|Possible Andrena violae, oligolectic on Violets.|
While laying on the ground photographing the bees visiting Violets I noticed an odd white shape in the grass. I had to get real close for my brain to explain to my eyes what I was seeing. The visual mystery was two falcate orangetips mating on the top of a bittercress. If you look closely you can see the two touching abdomen tips between their wings. When finished mating the female will lay her eggs on this cress, or another plant of the mustard family, which their caterpillar feeds upon.
|Mating falcate orangetips, Anthocharis midea annikae. You can see the hook to the tip of the wing (falcate).|
When not mating, these butterflies rarely sit still very long. They seem to hit flowers quickly for a taste and move right along. It was tough to find a male falcate orangetip that would sit still long enough to get a picture of its orange patch. But after much crawling around on hands and knees one finally sat still long enough to get a shot. The females lack the orange coloration on the dorsal side of the forewing.
|A male falcate orangetip, displaying why the name fits.|
Posted by: Mark Zloba