We have a comfortable backlog of photos now, but you should still send in your good ones lest ye forget.
Today’s batch, lovely photos of invertebrates (with a bonus mammal and reptile), comes from reader Bruce Budris. As he says about locations, “These are mostly taken in upstate NY (Columbia County). The two exceptions are the one I note that is taken at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA, really only 20 mins. away from us, and the snake pic, which is from Innisfree Garden about 30 or so miles south of us in Dutchess County.”
I’ve put Bruce’s IDs and notes in indents.
We’ve already had our first snow and a number of below freezing nights, but this common drone fly (Erastalis tenax) is still at it on the last flowers we have left (marigolds). This is a species of hoverfly whose body structure and coloring mimics a common honeybee.
Also in the hoverfly family, this is most likely a female migrant hoverfly (Syrphus ribesii) whose coloring mimics a yellowjacket wasp.
And a third type of hoverfly: The oblique stripetail (Allograpta obliqua), which also shares a mimicry of yellow jackets.
The great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus), a cousin of the cicada-killer wasp, is probably the largest wasp in this part of the world. They can usually be found dragging their prey (crickets and such) back to their in-ground burrows. Golden diggers also seem to like the nectar of swamp milkweed plants. This one happened to be photographed at the nearby Berkshire Botanical Garden, but I’ve found them to similarly visit the swamp milkweed plants in our garden. Despite their appearance, golden diggers are very unaggressive, although I noticed the patrons of the garden that summer afternoon were giving their nesting area a wide berth.
The Tomentose burying beetle (Nicrophorus tomentosus) is a type of carrion beetle. The club at the tip of their antennae is an olfactory organ used to find decaying carcasses, and once found, the mated beetles will bury the dead animal and use it to feed their brood.
The recycler of the previous photo (Nicrophorus tomentosus) is itself being recycled by a horde of red whirligig mites (Genus Anystis).
A beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) drinking from a Mexican sunflower and another resting on a basil leaf.
A large ferruginous tiger crane fly (Nephrotoma ferruginea) hangs in wait.
Bonus raptor: A Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) that frequently stalks my bird feeder in search of unsuspecting sparrows.
Bonus snake: While we were attempting to photograph a massive orb weaver spider at the beautiful Innisfree Garden in Dutchess County, NY, this garter snake (Thamnophis sp.) slithered over to check on the proceedings.