Saturday, September 29, 2012

Green Darner

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

I spotted this guy sunning himself yesterday. What a nondescript name for such a colourful fellow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yellow-rumped Warblers

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Fall has arrived. The nights are cool; the leaves are changing; and all the photogenic insects are hiding. There are still some sluggish grasshoppers and wasps about, and a cloud of gnats appeared around my head, but nothing particularly caught my eye. I think I'll have to go after the warm blooded now.

I noticed a couple of little birds foraging among the branches of the above pine tree. I was too far away to see them clearly and at first thought they might be sparrows. They seemed to be hunting for insects; flitting from branch to branch; sometimes even hovering to catch something out of mid-air. It turns out that they were Yellow-rumped warblers in their fall plumage. They still have a bit of yellow on them but I was too far away from them to get a good picture. It's nice to see birds like this taking advantage of the new habitat in the naturalization area. These warblers particularly like coniferous trees in the north but in their winter range they specialize in the waxy berries of the myrtle bush.

Hopefully these birds don't run foul of this guy:

Sunday, September 23, 2012


White-Faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum)

I took these pictures back in the middle of August. The White-faced Meadowhawk is one of several similar species of red meadowhawks that are thought to be all possibly one species.

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)

The Autumn Meadowhawk which matures later than the other meadowhawks is identifiable by its yellow legs. This one sitting in among the yarrow is still orange but will turn redder in the fall.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An orbweaver with dinner

Banded Argiope (Argiope trifasciata)

A few weeks ago I realized that I hadn't seen any orbweaver spiders in the tall grass this year. In previous years you had to be careful where you walked in case you bumped into a Black-and-yellow garden spider's web but this year I haven't seen a single one. I have finally found a few other orbweavers though. I've notice 4 Banded Argiopes in the 2010 bushy area. Above is a picture of one of them making a meal out of a grasshopper.

The white flowers in the picture are Hoary Alyssum. It is quite common this year as it does well in dry conditions. It has 4 petals (like all other plants in the mustard family) but they are so deeply notched they seem like 8 petals. It is an invasive weed from Europe. For the longest time I didn't know what it was called and couldn't find it in my Wildflowers of Ontario guide or online, but today I finally identified it (thank-you Google Images).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pelecinid Wasp

Pelecinid Wasp (Pelecinus polyturator)

This large wasp was an easy guy to photograph. He sat on this manitoba maple for a couple minutes as I snapped away. According to the bugguide, these guys are parasitoids of junebug grubs.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

One ant's final minutes

Dwarf Spider (Subfamily Erigoninae)

The other day I decided to watch an ant to see what it was up to. It seemed to be just wandering around: it would go up one grass stem, cross over to an intersecting blade; go down the new blade only to go back up another blade. I suppose it was looking for food to take back to the nest but it only spent part of its time at ground level in the debris. What was it looking for when travelling the grassy high road above the ground level? I think the answer might be: "safety", for only a couple of minutes later when travelling along a twig at ground level the little guy was caught by a small dwarf spider.

It happened so quickly, I didn't realize what I had just seen before the poor guy was a goner. He got caught on a strand of sticky spider silk and quick as a flash the tiny spider ran out from its hiding spot and administered its poison. The spider and ant were evenly matched, but the ant while retreating from the advancing spider had got further tangled up in the spider's web. After the first brief battle the spider retreated and let the poison take effect. Every minute or so it would come back out from hiding to see how much fight was left in the poor fellow and then go back to its shelter to let the poison do its job. About 5 minutes after the initial battle the little ant had ceased to struggle. The spider came back out, used its silk to bind up the ant and then slowly dragged it back to its lair.

As a size reference I later measured the snail shell at the bottom of the above picture to be 7mm wide.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Four-humped Stink Bug

Four-humped Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata)

I went for a short walk in the rain this evening. It's the first day of school and autumn is in the air. The leaves have started turning on the poplars and the grass was sprinkled with freshly fallen yellow leaves.

I found this large bug slowly climbing up the trunk of an ash tree. There are many different bugs that have the basic body type of a shield bug, but this is the largest one I have ever encountered. I would estimate this guy was about 3/4 of an inch long. The lighting was quite poor for this picture but there is a much better picture of one of these fellows in the link to