Tag Archive | macro

First Coelioxys of 2014!

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I am so excited to have met up with (on Saturday) my favourite little bees, Coelioxys! Something about these streamlined little wonders is just so appealing to me. Of course, they were sleeping in their usual manner on the rainy morning, so I had good opportunities to play with the lighting.

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Here is what a cluster of Coelioxys looks like, on a dead flower stalk.

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Because of the rain, this one had quite a bit of water accumulated.

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Like with the Ammophila yesterday, the water adds something to the already pretty texture.

 

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For this shot and the one at the top, I used some hard light from the rear and to the right to make these droplets shine. The green streak is a plant stem in the background.

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This bee is starting to wake, and grooming begins even before detaching her mandibles.

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In the midst of waking up…

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Now the bee is detached, and looking for a place to groom all this water off.

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After a couple swipes with the feet, the thorax is drier.

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This pretty little bee had a bit of a drier perch for the night.

 

 

 

Sand Lovers

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In addition to the bundles of sleeping bees I found at Iona Beach on Saturday, I also encountered some Ammophila wasps. Their name means “Sand Lover” and they are major predators of caterpillars in sandy habitats. They sting their prey precisely to paralyze it, then bury them in dungeons under the sand for their larvae to eat. The wasps I was shooting were resting on various vegetation, especially stiffer dead flowerheads. The rain made for some beautiful texture and reflections.

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Most sleeping Hymenoptera I find seem to have a preference for dead vegetation. Perhaps this is less attractive to other animals and makes for a disturbance-free night? In addition, the dead twigs and flowers are often stiffer and don’t blow around as much.

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In sleeping mode, these wasps grasp tightly with their mandibles. If you disturb them, they quickly re-grasp the substrate rather than waking and moving.

 

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Here is one on a living plant. I like the way the droplets highlight the smooth abdomen.

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It can be a wet business sleeping in the rain. I suppose while they are sleeping they must shut down their grooming responses.

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Here is another Sphecid, not Ammophila, but perhaps Isodontia?

Tomorrow I will thrill you with some more sleeping hymenopterans…I have saved the best of them for last!

 

Weekend Expedition 50: Richmond Nature Park

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Wow! I can’t believe Weekend Expedition is turning 50! Seems like just yesterday we were at Richmond Nature Park, bringing bugs to kids and speculating how cool it would be to walk around and see the place. Catherine and I saddled up after a long week to see what we could see in this Richmond gem, a bog forest habitat just off Westminster Highway. The day was bright and sunny, but it was cool on the trails.

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A male linyphiid (sheetweb weaver) hangs out on Oregon Grape.

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These staphylinids seem to be having a sex party on a flowering Labrador Tea.

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Catherine and I got our animal feeding jollies at home before setting out: we now have some really fat spiders!

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Some prime spotting by Catherine: a female Snakefly!

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This (lauxaniid?) is feeding on the corpse of a barklouse.

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I really like how this chironomid blends into the lit-up leaf.

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This one, in contrast, stands out.

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This place is full of blueberries, all along the trails. None ripe yet though!

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Here is a male Philodromus dispar in silhouette.

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We found a whole bunch of rhaphidophorids (camel crickets) under some bark.

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Back out toward the entrance was a newly-fledged Rufous Hummingbird.

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Mama would come periodically with food.

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The fledgling was already feeding itself as well!

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This throat-stabby feeding looks painful, but seems to work well enough.

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The whole scene was quite wonderful to see. In only a month and a half, they will be shipping out for a long migration south.

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Weekend Expedition 49: you don’t have to go far!

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This weekend I spent close to home, working on my final thesis tweaks before it goes out to my committee. Instead of going on a proper expedition, I decided to explore our new neighbourhood of Kerrisdale. Right near our house is a largely-disused railway line that has some good habitat, including tall grasses and saplings, so that is where I rambled. In addition to finding the cuckoo wasps on Friday evening, I also saw a bunch of other cool stuff!

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At the top of the grasses where I found the chrysidids, I encountered many large sac spiders (Clubionidae). These fearsome-looking spiders all seemed to be feeding on the same thing: Aphids! With these huge chelicerae and fangs, it seems to be a bit of an overkill!

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Check out the chelicerae on this girl!

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Also interested in aphids, these Myrmica are milking a thriving colony on a sapling. I figure these are Myrmica incompleta, a fairly robust species.

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Myrmica are rather fascinating ants, and a genus I am working with. More on this another day.

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These ants have quite the herd of aphids!

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On a quick trip to Trout Lake (in East Van), I found some little katydid nymphs. These appear to be meadow katydids, a welcome change from the introduced drumming katydids.

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A robust dolichopodid (Long-legged Fly) by the side of Trout Lake. They are quick!

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Not quick enough for this tiger fly (Coenosia spp.)!

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Here is a Coenosia looking regal and dramatic in the sunset.

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This golden dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) was also looking regal (and probably freshly-eclosed).

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Back at the railroad tracks in Kerrisdale, I found these Lasius taking honeydew from a scale insect on an oak sapling.

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and some mating Coleophora deauratella (red clover casebearer).

Sleeping Cuckoo Wasps!

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Last time I got up close with sleeping Hymenoptera, I was shooting Nomada, also known as cuckoo bees. Friday night, about 100 m from my new apartment, I shot some Chrysididae, also known as cuckoo wasps or jewel wasps, which are also nest parasites of stinging Hymenoptera. These gorgeous little wasps are super tough (if you have ever pinned them) with a highly sculptured cuticle and the ability to roll up in a little ball, presumably for defense while dealing with stinging hosts. Peering at a series of pinned cuckoo wasps in Intro Entomology was a big part in winning me over to study insects!

Unlike other sleeping hymenopterans I have shot (Coelioxys, Megachile, Nomada and Ammophila), these guys seem to use their ball-rolling muscles to cling on to the grasses. Because they were so small, I was wishing for more magnification…I could not even find my extension tubes!

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These wasps are some of the most gorgeous insects around.

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Here you can see the wasp’s feet clinging on, as well as the concave abdomen which also facilitates the defensive posture.

 

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I tried getting both of them to sleep on the same flower, but they seemed to maintain a sizable personal space. While I was doing this, late-foraging yellowjjacket queens were examining the tops of the grasses as well. There were also many sleeping blowflies on the grasses, which may have been what the yellowjackets were hunting for.

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Here the two cuckoo’s are finally settling down again. They both appear to be male, with 13 segments on the antennae.

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A bit of stretching before bed.

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They seem to be connected by a detached bit of spider silk.

 

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In the morning I went back to the site, and both were still on the same plant. Here one of the wasps cleans his eye.

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And appears to be ready to start the day!