Posts Tagged ‘flower’

Bring Back the Native Pollinators! We Need them More than Ever

May 20, 2015
A long-horned bee on sunflower © Beatriz Moisset

A long-horned bee on sunflower
© Beatriz Moisset

Excerpt from the USDA document prepared by the Division of Bee Culture in 1942: “The Dependence of Agriculture on the Beekeeping Industry—a Review.”

Wherever a proper balance exists between plants and pollinating insects, both flourish. Agricultural development, however, has seriously interfered with this balance. It has demanded the growing of certain plants in enormous acreages and has unwittingly destroyed native pollinating insects as well as their nesting places. As a result the burden of pollination has been increased to such an extent that wild bees are no longer adequate or dependable. . . In many places the depletion of wild pollinators is so acute that honeybees have to be brought in especially for pollination, and so in practically all agricultural areas honeybees are now the most numerous of the flower-visiting insects.

Read the full article in Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens 2014

Pumpkin patch teeming with bumble bees © Beatriz Moisset

Pumpkin patch teeming with bumble bees
© Beatriz Moisset

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators

January 13, 2014

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors. Beatriz Moisset

An illustrated beginner’s field guide to insect flower visitors, including pollinators. The guide provides concise descriptions, photos and life history information of the most common insects found visiting flowers. It includes time of year, geographic area and favorite flowers. Also mentioned are those that act as pollinators and whether they may sting.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Lulu.com

Available at no cost during Pollinator Week, June 20-26, 2016

An Easy Guide to the Most Frequent Flower Visitors

April 3, 2013

Cover_edited-2.web

Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors. Beatriz Moisset

An illustrated beginner’s field guide to insect flower visitors, including pollinators. The guide provides concise descriptions, photos and life history information of the most common insects found visiting flowers. It includes time of year, geographic area and favorite flowers. Also mentioned are those that act as pollinators and whether they may sting.

Available at Amazon Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Lulu.com,

Gallery of Halictidae. Halictini

February 28, 2012

Lasioglossum




Halictus





Agapostemon


Gallery of Halictidae. Augochlorini

February 25, 2012

The members of the Augochlorini tribe of the family Halictidae are all metallic green, sometimes they have bluish or coppery tones. Their name refers to the green color. The most common ones in our area are Augochlora pura, Augochlorella aurata and Augochloropsis metallica.





Gallery of Colletidae

February 24, 2012

Colletidae is a small family of bees. They use a material similar to cellophane to build their nests and thus they are called cellophane or plasterer bees.




Yellow-collared Scape Moth

May 16, 2011

Yellow collared scape moth on goldenrod

A day-flying moth is the yellow collared scape moth, with a wingspan between 2 and 2 ¼”. Its wings are bluish black or bluish brown. The abdomen is blue with some iridescent shades. The name refers to the bright yellow or orange collar, very characteristic of this moth; although there are a couple of unrelated moths with a remarkably similar pattern.

Virginia Ctenucha

Grapeleaf skeletonizer

These are: Virginia ctenucha (left), larger and with an iridescent blue abdomen and the grapeleaf skeletonizer (right), smaller and with a fanned tail.

Male yellow collared scape moth on Eupatorium, snake root

Yellow collared scape moths are frequently found on flowers of Eupatorium. These plants are toxic to most animals. However these moths have developed a tolerance against the toxins. Males feed on these plants and acquire and store the toxins. Later they transfer them to the females as a mating gift. In turn females use the toxins to protect their eggs against predators.

Habitat. Meadows, open fields.

Season. Most common in late summer and fall, from July to October. It can be seen earlier and later, especially in the South.

Flowers. goldenrods, many members of the aster family, especially Eupatorium.

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors

Soldier beetles

April 28, 2011

Goldenrod soldier beetle. Notice the black head and the square spot on the pronotum

Many beetles visit flowers. Some perform a moderate amount of pollination although, in general, they are not as good as other insects. Among them, soldier beetles are often found on flowers, feeding on nectar and pollen. Their larvae usually feed on eggs and larvae of other insects and are valued as biological pest controls. Soldier beetles are almost rectangular in shape and have red and black or orange and black colors. Some soldier beetles look like army uniforms of old times, before the days of camouflage and that is how they got their name. The first pair of wings of beetles is hard and serves to cover and protect the second pair which are membranous and used for flying. In soldier beetles the cover wings are softer; this has earned them their other common name, leatherwing beetles

Mating leatherwing beeltes. Notice the color of the head and the pronotum


Two very common soldier beetles are the goldenrod soldier beetle and the margined leatherwing. Both are very similar in appearance, orangish or yellow with black markings on the wings. These markings can vary in size markedly in both species. This makes it tricky to tell them apart. The main differences between the two types of beetles are that the goldenrod beetle has an all black head and the black spot on its pronotum (the section between the head and wings) is square. The margined leatherwing, on the other hand has some orange on the head and the pronotum’s dark patch is like a longitudinal bar.

Margined leatherback beetle. Notice the color of the wings


Finally, one good difference is the time of the year in which they are active. You find the goldenrod beetle in late summer and in the fall and it mostly visits goldenrod flowers. The margined leatherwing is active earlier in the season, so it is not likely to be seen on goldenrod, which hasn’t started blooming.

Habitat. Fields, gardens

Season. Margined leatherwing, from May to June or even July. Goldenrod soldier beetle, August, September

Flowers. Margined leatherwing, asters, queen Anne’s lace, milkweeds. Goldenrod soldier beetle, primarily goldenrod and other fall flowers.

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Tiger swallowtail

April 22, 2011

Male tiger swallowtail on common milkweed

 

Tiger swallowtail on zinnia

The tiger swallowtail is a very impressive creature with its large size, bright colors and bold pattern. It belongs to a group of butterflies called swallowtails in reference to the two projections, “tails” of their hind wings. It is thought that these projections may confuse predators making them think that the tails are actually antennae. When a bird goes for the head it may get a piece of wing instead, allowing the butterfly to escape without suffering a lethal injury.

Female tiger swallowtail dark variety

The name refers to its yellow and black stripes, reminiscent of a tiger’s stripes. One peculiarity of this species of butterflies is that some females instead of being yellow with black stripes are bluish black with white spots.

Spicebush swallowtail. Author: Daniel Spurgeon. Creative Commons

These females look very much like another fairly common butterfly, the spicebush swallowtail. The former lacks the orange spots of the latter on the underside of the wings; this makes it possible to tell them apart. Spicebush swallowtails taste bad to predators. It is possible that dark female tiger swallowtails masquerade as members of the other species to lead predators to believe that they are bad tasting too.

Habitat. Around woodland edges, near streams, swamps

Season. It starts flying as early as March and lasts until October, but mostly it flies between June and September

Flowers. Milkweeds, sedum or stone crop, many flowers of the aster family, especially larger ones like zinnias

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors

Monarch butterfly

April 20, 2011

Monarch on milkweed

The most beloved and best known butterfly in North America is, without doubt, the monarch butterfly. However, people often mistake other orange and black butterflies, such as viceroys and queens, for monarchs.

Queen butterfly. Brown, rather than orange. Author: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia. Creative commons

Viceroy butterfly. Dark line across hindwings. Author: Sander van der Molen Creative Commons

Queens are related to monarchs; their pattern is similar but with fewer lines and a darker color. Viceroys are not related but they look remarkably similar at first sight, probably because they want to fool predators into thinking that they taste just as bad as monarchs. Look for a line that runs across the hind wing of a viceroy, this line is absent in monarchs. Viceroys are a little smaller than monarchs.

Fritillary. No white dots. Black lines don’t go all the way

Fritillaries are also smaller than monarchs and their pattern doesn’t include white dots.
The monarch’s life cycle is remarkable. It migrates in the fall all the way to Mexico, where it spends the winter. It starts migrating back north in early spring, where it reproduces and has several new generations; each keeps migrating farther and farther north through the spring and summer all the way to northern United States and Canada.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

The monarchs that live in the western part of the United States only migrate as far south as California where they spend the winter.
The caterpillars are brightly striped black, yellow and white. They feed on milkweeds (several different species) so that is where you also find the adults often; adults take nectar from a variety of flowers, not just milkweeds, and can be seen visiting them.

Habitat. Fields, meadows, sunny spots

Season. In California they are found year round. In southern states such as Texas and Florida they can be seen from February to as late as November. The farther north you go the shorter the season for monarchs. In northern states they are found from June to October.

Flowers. Seen quite often at milkweeds, common, swamp and several other milkweed species. Also found at many other flowers depending on the season: asters, goldenrods, bee balm.

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors