Confirmed sightings

Having submitted sighting reports for my September sightings of a Variegated Fritillary, Monarch, Pearl Crescent, Red-spotted Admiral, and Common Buckeye to the Butterflies and Moths of North America site, I was delighted to learn that all five identifications have been confirmed. They don’t represent a very high degree of difficulty, but I was a little doubtful as to the Variegated Fritillary and the Pearl Crescent. It’s nice to feel that I’ve made a tiny contribution to the recorded sightings.

Bees on the butterfly weed

Here is the Asclepias tuberosa I planted last July, hoping to support butterflies. I was so pleased to see that it survived to grow and bloom this year. At first I didn’t see any insects visiting it, but today noticed three different small bees on it, two of which are visible in this photo. The few butterflies we’ve had lately have focused on the butterfly bushes, and the little zinnias that have begun to bloom.


The Swallowtails are Back

Yesterday we had two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the yard. In the afternoon we visited Wheaton Regional Park, which includes a lot of tulip trees, their larval food plant.  We spotted our first butterfly on a patch of bare ground as we entered the park. Continuing on to the gardens, we arrived at the massive bottlebrush buckeye at the edge of the woods, to find a dozen or more swallowtails and several hummingbird moths visiting the blooms. They were all in motion, but I did manage to capture two in this photo.


Bumblebee Home

This morning’s bumblebee sighting inspired me to get back to this blog. I knew that at least some bumblebees nest in the ground, but until today I had never seen any sign of it. This morning, on my way back from collecting the paper, I noticed a bumblebee approaching a gap between an old brick edger and the front walk. It disappeared into the space. Soon after I saw two other bees. Then  one emerged. With a little patience I was able to get this shot of a bee who seemed to be searching for the entrance. What a great excuse for not weeding that area! I want to know more about these bees.


Seen today

Today’s photos are quick shots of what I was able to catch. (Not captured: tiger swallowtails, a goldfinch on the zinnias, and a hummingbird!) The cicada husk was of interest as the first one I’ve seen in our yard this year, even though I’ve been hearing them in the neighborhood for a while. I could also see the hole in the soil from which it had emerged at the base of the crape myrtle. To the best of my recollection (but I’ll try to verify this) we planted the crape myrtle perhaps 5-7 years ago, after the death and removal of an old Japanese maple that stood nearby and exhibited annual signs of a thriving cicada population. I wonder how long it takes for a newly planted tree (or large shrub) to acquire an associated multi-year population of cicadas, and what became of the ones living at the base of the maple. Probably having the stump ground up was not good for them.

The fungus lives with some similar smaller ones near the base of an oak tree in our neighborhood.

The bumblebee is part of a project to try to get at least one photo of each type of bee in our yard.

I’ve ordered a macro lens for my iPhone from PhotoJojo and hope that it will improve my results. I recognize that I will only use whatever camera is in my pocket, which is generally going to be my phone. I can only admire from a distance the work of people like Alex Wild (@myrmecos); I particularly love his  jumping spider portraits .