Saturday, June 25, 2011
In these groups of insects, the males and females often look very different, and even the young adults may look very different than adults a few weeks older.
Along with being predators, dragonflies and damselflies are in turn prey for many songbirds and are in constant danger of being eaten.
I took these pictures and lots of others in the last few days while hiking the trails. Take your camera with you. Most point and shoot cameras can take great close up pictures.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
A squirrel was killed by a car in front of my house this weekend, and I set it in the grass until I finished a short errand. One half hour later there were flies all around it.
So I set it on a table, like any normal person, so I could photograph the flies doing whatever they do.
I've seen this hundreds of times, but never really watched it up close.
Squirrel fur is a thick forest to flies trying to find a place to lay their eggs. So they focus on natural entry areas, in this case, the mouth and nose.
All of the flies present were the same species, as you can see in the pictures below, and the only thing they did was lay eggs. For 6 hours. In the nose and the mouth.
The female flies have a long tube at the end of their abdomen called an ovipositor. The eggs travel down this "tube" and are placed where the female's instincts tell her to place them-in this case, inside the dead squirrel's mouth and nose. That will give her babies access to the soft tissue as soon as they hatch.
You can see the flies in these two pictures pushing their abdomens into the openings of the mouth and nose, and the following picture shows how these openings were completely filled with eggs.
While not a pretty sight, just think what it would be like if nothing ate these dead animals! Flies are very busy cleaning things up for us and get very little credit for their unsavory jobs.
Eating for these flies is not chewing out a chunk of flesh and chewing it up. These flies have a fleshy appendage for a mouth with a sponge like blob on the end. They push this around on liquidy surfaces and soak up their food.
You can see this fly doing just that on the squirrel's eye in this picture from 11 AM this morning. These flies were wary and would not come close if I moved.
I may not continue this investigation, as the smell will not be welcomed by others nearby, not to mention my own enjoyment of my yard.
Keep doing your stuff, decomposers, down wind if possible.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I have friends that have this same expression when cottonwood seeds are blowing around.
In the picture below a Prairie Ringlet butterfly has landed near a Prairie Smoke flower that has gone to seed. These medium sized butterflies are only out for about two weeks in early summer then they dissappear until next year. I didn't notice the aphids near its feet until after I took the picture
Sunday, June 12, 2011
It was only after I took this picture this morning and then enlarged it that I was able to see this fine detail with the dew. I won't see Prairie Smoke the same again, though it has always been one of my favorites.
They are too wet and heavy to fly until the sun removes the dew, but they rotate around the grass stem trying to hide. It works pretty good, except their eyes really stick out, as you can see below.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The male perched in the top of the nearest tree and scolded any one who came close, while the female selected the best pieces of nest material for her interior decorating.
The female has to sit on the nest and not be seen by predators, so she has colors that blend with the surroundings.
I will try to get pictures of the nest as the eggs and then babies hatch and grow.
The babies stay on the mother leach's underside. So I poured some pond water into a casserole dish and took these pictures from underneath looking up through the glass bottom.
Don't tell the cook.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
This is a male Red Bellied Woodpecker bringing food to it's nest in Springbrook Nature Center's woodlands this past Wednesday.
As can be seen in the second photo below, the bugs he is finding in the trees look real yummy!
This male was returning to the nest about every 20 minutes, and I didn't see the female, so I wondered if she is still inside the nest with very little babies, and he is feeding her?
You can tell that this is a female because the red on her head only goes half way to her beak. On the male the red goes all the way across the head to the beak, as you can see in the picture above and below.
You don't see this very often, and many people wonder why they are called Red Bellied...now you can see the reason.
Leaf Hoppers, spittle bugs at this age, are in the group of insects known as Hemiptera, or, "true bugs." All "true bugs" have sucking mouth parts, as these little guys demonstrate very well.
In the two pictures below you can see how the little 1/4 inch "bug" started creating more bubbles as soon as he was exposed. He was completely encased in new bubbles in seconds.