Western Horse Fly (Tabanus punctifer)

Found this specimen in the parking lot at Marketplace in Friday Harbor yesterday. Glad I didn’t turn into the “grabber” I can sometimes be and instead used a box to scoop up my big find. Probably if you were watching me, you’d have been scratching your head wondering WHY is this woman going through her grocery sacks and opening a snack box of tuna?  That box made an excellent fly “trap!”

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Big is an understatement! This is the LARGEST fly I’ve collected on the island.  It measures over 1 inch long or more than 2 cm.  The Western Horse Fly (Tabanus punctifer) can bite through your clothing, although it is the female that needs a blood meal (males feed on nectar and pollen). The adult female lays egg masses (over 300 per mass) on vegetation along ponds and lakes. When the eggs hatch, the larvae develop in the water and here is what I read about them from my sources at Bugguide.com…

“These larvae are aquatic. They have mouthparts that are identical to those of rattlesnakes in structure. A pair of hollow fangs that are connected to a poison/anaesthecic salivary gland further back in the body. These mandibles can easily break through human skin and inject the immobilizing contents of the salivary glands. Normally used to paralyse, and perhaps digest, prey. They are capable of quickly immobilizing/killing animals as large as frogs. They are strictly carnivores and eat ‘meat’.”

I guess this means that the toe-biters aren’t the only ones you should avoid when you go for that swim!

If you care to read more, I suggest this excellent informative guide I found online.   It is a 1921 publication from Sanitary Entomology:  The Entomology of Disease, Hygiene and Sanitation ~ https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=eIQoAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PA237Sanitary Entomology

 

 

All Wet! April 26, 2018

A water trough and cool morning temperatures equate with a desperate situation if your wings are wet and they aren’t the inflatable kind that keep you afloat.  I rescued two, soon to be drowned, little specimens yesterday morning and can tell you, they were “happy” to  dry off in the sunshine ☀️ .

The first rescue was a delicate, Green Lacewing in the family Chrysopidae.   Lacewings are in the insect order Neuroptera which means nerve-winged insect.  It is named for the intricate, sheer, net-like pattern of its wings.  They are valued because they prey on garden and orchard pests insects like aphids.  The intriguing thing about this specimen (make sure to pay close attention to frames 0.22 and 0.24 in the video) was its reaction to my voice when I stopped Millhouse the cat from interfering with my cinematography.  The Lacewing appears to have a look of surprise when it hears me.

The second rescue from the water trough is the beautiful, iridescent green cuckoo bee you see in the video below.  Cuckoo bees are actually wasps in the insect order Hymenoptera, and family Chrysididae.  While they are pollinators in that adults seek out nectar for food from flowers, they are named, like the cuckoo bird, after their habit of seeking out nests of other wasp and bee species to steal food, or the life of developing larvae as a host for their own young.   Never-mind that part of the life cycle of this bee.  It is truly a gem, glittering in the sunshine…a jewel worn by a new spring blossom in the garden.

 

 

 

Blue Orchard Bee ~ Osmia lignaria

Sighted April 12, 2018, San Juan Island, WA.  Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria).   These are important early (native)  pollinators.  Adults hibernate overwinter and emerge from March to May.  Blue Orchard Mason Bees are being managed as orchard pollinators as they are excellent at pollinating fruit trees such as pear, cherry, plum, and apple, as well as quince and others, including blueberries.   Blue Orchard Mason Bees and other solitary bees in the genus Megachilidae (like leaf-cutting bees) carry pollen on their bellies instead of special baskets on their hind legs like honey bees.  The Blue Orchard Mason Bee use tubular cavities for nests, partitioning each brood cell with a wall of mud.   Although similar in size, Blue Orchard bees are easy to distinguish from honey bees because they are metallic in coloring, often dark blue or blue-black.

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Family: Megachilidae, Genus: Osmia (Mason bee)Osmia ligaria – Blue Orchard Bee

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Family: Megachilidae, Genus: Osmia (Mason bee)

Osmia spp.  Mason bees

Osmia spp. (Osmia lignaria) mating ~ April 15, 2017

Read more about Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria) here:  

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/mason_bees.shtml

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/BEES/blue_orchard_bee.htm

 

Working Checklist of San Juan Island, WA Coleoptera

This is a checklist I’ve put together of the Coleoptera of San Juan island. Beetles with (*) asterisks are those I have actually seen, photographed, or have in my collection. It is a work in progress!San Juan Island – List of Coleoptera 2016 by Cynthia Brast

 

 

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) What do you “bee-lieve?”

I found this bee yesterday at the San Juan Island Community Gardens (https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Juan-Island-Community-Gardens/161100800613137?fref=ts). A friend helped me get it into a container so I could photograph and hopefully identify it. Took me awhile, but I believe it is a Wool Carder Bee (Antidium manicatum). I read a neat blog about how they are associated with the plant called Lamb’s Ear. Females scrape the “wool” off the leaves to line their nest and both sexes sip nectar from the plant’s flowers. Read more about them here… http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/?blogtag=Anthidium+manicatum&blogasset=45538

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool Carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9605-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9604-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9603-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

IMG_9602-European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

European Wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)

 

My Dinner Guest

A very hungry bumble bee

I found out on my walk.

I invited her to dine with me,

And though she couldn’t talk…

 

She came along without protest

Happy to have me serve…

The wildflower blossom I picked for her,

Six-petaled bee hors d’oerve.

 

Once in the house, I seated her

As my honored guest,

Then I served her with a bee size drink…

My vintage nectar best!

 

A little sugar mixed

With water all together

And the happy bee was well revived

To survive this cold, spring weather.

 

She buzzed about and thanked me

For the sustenance,

And then she asked to be excused

With her little bumble dance.

 

I opened up my front door

To see her on her way

She said to look for her again

Some sunny summer day!

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Bombus mixtus or Mixed Bumble Bee queens emerge after overwintering to begin the process of making a nest (typically in the ground) where she will begin to make wax pots to lay her eggs in.  You can help save these important pollinators by reducing use of herbicides and lawn chemicals in your yard.  If you find one on a cold day, help it out by providing a boost of carbohydrate energy.  You can wet a sponge or cotton with sugar water or prepackaged hummingbird food and offer it a drink.  The hungry bee will thank you for it.  Remember to “bee” nice to bees!

***Text and photographs copyright 2012 by Cynthia Brast.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.

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