Friday, June 20, 2014

Robber Fly Bumblebee Mimic Eating Real Bumblebees

 Bumblebees are an important part of ecosystems because of their pollinating activities on the many flowering plants all around us.

There are many species of Bumblebees, but most of us are more familiar with the large yellow and black ones that generally ignore us while busily working away at gathering nector and pollen, as in this picture taken at Springbrook Nature Center.
 A group of predacious robberflies have taken advantage of this casualness that other insects seem to have with bumblebees. 

As can be seen in these pictures this member of the fly family is an amazing mimic of a bumblebee.

By using this mimicry, the fly can sit in the open among leaves and flowers and  not be seen as a threat by other insects.  And birds don't try to eat it since they don't want to be stung.
 Yesterday I was photographing small bumblebees in my raspberry patch when this fascinating imposter showed up.

It did not take it long to get close enough to one of the small bumblebees to grab it and then land on a leaf to enjoy a healthy lunch with its piercing and sucking mouthparts.

Mimicry works for both defense and offense, especially for this fly.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dew In Prairies At Springbrook

 There was heavy dew in the prairies at Springbrook Nature Center this morning.  All the new grasses and flowers, as well as any critter that spent the night in the open was pretty much covered with drops.

As the sun came up, the dew evaporated into the air as things warmed up.

The image in the dew drops illustrates how a lens inverts whatever it sees.  You can see the sky on the bottom of the drops.
 A damselfly is covered with dew here, and the drop on the grass beside it shows how a drop of water can act as a magnifying lens.

As soon as the dew evaporated off the damselfly it flew away and joined the many others searching for small insects to eat.
 The Prairie is full of flowers, including the Spiderworts, which have just started blooming.

Each flower blooms for one day only, with a new bud behind it taking its place tomorrow.
 The wild asperagus has grown tall and now has many tiny flowers which will grow into little green berries about the size of a pea in a few weeks.
 The wild roses have started blooming, and are the biggest blossoms in the prairie.

The puccoon in the picture below is also starting to bloom after the managed prairie burn earlier this spring.  Their large yellow clumps can be seen from a long way off.