Asian ladybeetle (Harmonia) and aphids
Aphids seem to be abundant this year. They are on vetch, on sunflowers, absolutely covering many of the burdock plants (and it will be interesting to see how this infestation of insects impacts the growth of this invasive plant) as you see here, on milkweeds. Consequently, the Asian ladybeetles are abundant too, as they feed on the aphids.
Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), male
There were a few dragonflies and damselflies around today, including this gorgeous male widow skimmer. Also note, 3 Common green darners, 1 Mosaic darner sp. 2 to 5 Sedge sprites, many Eastern forktails and 1 Common whitetail.
Sweat bee (Halictid) emerging from burrow
It rained again today but this time I was at FWG earlier than yesterday and the sun eventually came out and stayed awhile. When it did, so did everything else! The gorgeous little metallic green sweat bees are back in the BYG, same spot as last year. I noticed a few coming and going a week ago, but today there were 4 or 5 or more holes and lots of activity.
Milkweed bug (Lygaeus kalmii)
Milkweeds are blooming in some profusion now, and it was no surprise to see some milkweed bugs. There are a lot of insects attracted to and associated with milkweeds: bugs and beetles and of course the Monarch butterfly.
Wild raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Much wild fruit is available to animals and birds now. The rasberries are just beginning to bloom, but serviceberry, dogwood, viburnums, elderberries, are all in fruit as well.
Green frogs (Rana clamitans) fighting
In the BYG pond, a couple of male greenfrogs were having an all-out fight! It looked quite nasty, but eventually one of them swam off. They then both commenced calling! It is green frog mating season, after all.
Green frog (Rana clamitans) calling
This is one of the fighters... now busy trying to out call his competitor. Notice how swollen his throat looks. When he calls, he pushes up with his front legs and lets out that distinctive banjo-like thrumming sound.
Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) berries
Gorgeous glowing berries of this plant. These were in the BYG.
Virginia ctenucha moth
These beautiful day-flying moths are abundant right now. In fact, insects are really increasing in variety and number. In addition to these guys, and the milkweed bugs, plant bugs, and sweat bees, I saw, amongst many species, Sphecid wasps,Ichneumonid wasps, Braconid wasps,Hover flies (four species), Firefly covered in red mites, Spittlebugs, a tiny little Platystomatid fly, Megachilid bees and nomada bees.
As far as other lepidoptera, I saw a lovely silver-spotted skipper in the Butterfly meadow, about 30 European skippers, 1 Hobomok skipper and 2 long dash skippers, as well as a white admiral and a couple of common ringlets.
Plant bugs (Stenotus and Miris)
In the short period before the rains came, I managed to see and photograph a few things, including this head of Timothy grass with a bunch of plants bugs (Miridae) on it.
Long-legged fly (Condylostylus sp.)
After the rain of early noon, the sun came out for a brief while and so did some insects and lots of birds. Flies, such as this long-legged fly, odonates such as Bluets and Common Whitetails, various beetles and bugs, and even a few butterflies- European skipper and White admiral, were all seen. A female American redstart was actively gathering nest material and flying into the ravine with it. So while some birds have already finished nesting others are just beginning, or else are starting on their second brood. A pair of Downy woodpeckers and a Hairy woodpecker were around the BYG, and one of the downies flew expectantly to the feeder and, I swear, looked affronted to discover there were no seeds!
White DSV (Cynanchum rossicum)
We've been seeing a few DSV plants with white flowers for years now, always in the same couple of spots. This year, once again, a white-flowered plant is back.
A few weeks ago we placed a bee box in the garden and wondered whether anything would use it. I've been checking it regularly and today noticed some ants going in and out of the lower holes, hauling what looks like some pupae around. Meanwhile, two different bee species were either investigating the upper holes, or were actually nesting there. They moved so fast into the holes that I couldn't really get a good look. And if they came back out I didn't see them.
Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingi)
This was taken in the Arboretum, in the stream that runs down the FWG ravine, under the path, and then out past the 'island' in the Arboretum to the Canal. I was not as surprised as I might have been to see this turtle, because apparently someone found it (I assume this is the same one) behind a MacDonald's on Bronson Ave.!! Fortunately, she knew enough to know what it was and that Bronson was no place for a turtle. She took it to what she called the stream at the FWG. I've no idea if she placed it in the stream on the FWG side of the path, or on the other side. At any rate, this turtle was in such shallow water that it barely covered her. So, I scooped her up, and moved her back down the stream a little way where it becomes wider and deeper. Hope she does well.
Phantom cranefly (Bittacomorpha sp)
What a hot day! For various reasons I couldn't get to FWG until noon, and it was so hot that I didn't stay very long. However, to my surprise I saw a phantom cranefly and nowhere near the pond! I am beginning to think that these craneflies are much more common than has been thought. Or maybe this is a good year for them. At any rate, I have seen them at quite a few locations lately, the FWG being the most recent. Chris, our summer employee in 2008, found the first phantom cranefly at FWG near the pond. I didn't manage to get a photo of the FWG one, but here is a shot from the west end of Ottawa taken yesterday.
Four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus)
Also found was this pretty little four-lined plant bug. A few butterflies were seen, but the heat was so intense that even the birds and insects seemed to be taking it easy and hiding out. However, I did see a couple of chimney swifts flying low over the Butterfly meadow. It is not often you get to see these birds flying so low.
Asian ladybeetle larva (Harmonia axyridis)
This odd looking little thing is the larval stage of the common and non-native Asian Ladybeetle. This species was introduced as a biocontrol agent some years ago, and they do a great job of battling aphids, but they have also proliferated and displaced some of the native ladybeetles.
Bumblebees in nest box
These bumblebees were in an old nest box, the entrance long ago enlarged by squirrels. Can you see their wings fluttering furiously? They are keeping the heat down. This is not the first time bumblebees have taken over a nest box.
Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus)
The first Flowering rush flower was found in the pond today. They are pretty... but so many invasives are! Volunteers, primarily Sandy and Diane, have been removing these plants from the pond for years. I think they've made inroads in the big open area where, at least at the moment, the plants seem far fewer. But in the back part of the pond, they are coming on strong.
Stinkbug on fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium
This was taken in the new section of the Butterfly meadow.
Painted turtle on raft
Hooray! The turtle has finally discovered our turtle raft! This must be the same turtle Henry spotted on the raft on Friday. This large turtle was first seen in the Amphibian Pond in early spring. It may be the one that has been in the pond for several years, but hard to say. We also have a smaller painted turtle, and a snapping turtle in the pond. Last week, Diane's volunteers, working on the Butterfly meadow, not only inadvertantly unearthed some turtle eggs, but found a tiny painted turtle, the size of a quarter Diane says. She put it into the pond, and let's hope it survives. The green herons seem to have vanished so the turtle may be safe. This would be the 3rd painted turtle in the pond.
Speaking of the pond, there have been very few dragonflies and damselflies found this year to date. Mostly what we are seeing are Eastern forktails. But then, everything seems to be quite late, so we'll see what happens when summer progresses a bit. The green frogs are certainly vocal in the pond right now!
European skipper (Thymelicus lineola) on cow vetch
It was a butterfly day at the FWG this morning. The weather has turned hot and sunny, and by 10 a.m. it was already reaching mid-20's. There was a variety of butterflies although not a lot of any species. New for the season was this European skipper, a non-native species, as its name suggests. I saw 4 today.
Juvenal's duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)
This Juvenal's duskywing, looking a bit tattered, is a new species for our FWG butterfly list!
In addition to this species, the European skipper and the Long dash skipper, other butterflies noted today in the hour or so I was at the garden include Hobomok skipper 2, Common ringlet 1, Silvery blue 2, and Little wood satyr 1.
Common milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca)
The milkweed is just beginning to flower.In addition to butterflies, they'll attract a number of insects. Will it attract Monarchs? They seem to be very late this year. I haven't seen one, has anyone seen them, anywhere?
Long dash skipper (Polites mystic)
Also new for the season at FWG today was this male Long dash skipper.
Plume moth (Emmelina monotactyla)
Diane found this near the Interpretive centre. These moths are tiny! But very intriguing.
Oblique-banded leafroller moth (Choristoneura rosaceana)
On the wall of the Interpretive centre
Dance fly on DSV
There were scores of these interesting looking Dance flies around the garden today, and many of them were on DSV. They always seem to hang out around this plant, perhaps only because the leaves of this abundant invasive species offer a good flat perch?
I always check a particular spot at FWG to see if by chance a raccoon is sleeping there. We get few of these animals at the garden and so I was happy to see this very large one sleeping blissfully on top of a grey squirrel nest!
Common spring moth (Heliomata cycladata), #6261
I found this moth in the BYG just after arriving at FWG this morning. It is often associated with black locust trees and we certainly have plenty of those in the ravine, so I'm surprised we don't see this moth more often. It is quite small, a member of the Geometridae, and wary. I tried several times to get close enough for a macro but it kept flying away and I had to be content with this severely cropped image... hence the lack of clarity.
Bumblebee pollen-gathering in rose
The large rose bush in front of and to the north of the Interpretive Centre, was humming with activity. Lots of freshly emerged worker bumblebees were gathering pollen fast and furiously.
Crow in birdbath
Red-winged blackbird, fledged young
I noticed three separate families of red-winged blackbirds today. Adults were feeding this one youngster who was quite well fledged and moving around freely. I didn't notice any siblings nearby so he may be the only one from the nest to survive. Another nest I've been watching has tiny just hatched blackbirds in it... the female was off the nest and the young were terribly vulnerable to predation as the nest was not well covered. The third family had several large young in the nest, not quite as well feathered as this one, but getting there. They were very vocal, calling for food with the urgency that young birds do so well!
Muskrat gathering cattails
Still by the pond... I saw this muskrat busily gathering cattails. He would reach down into the water and grab a stalk, stick his head down and chew off the entire plant, then let it float on the water while he worked on another. When he had as many as he could handle, he gathered them all in his mouth and swam off toward a dense and large stand of dead cattails ringed with fresh ones. At one point he dove underwater and vanished. I could also see where he had been cutting the Flowering rush and leaving he stems to float on the water's surface.
Little wood satyr (Megisto cymela)
There were not a lot of butterflies, but this Little wood satyr was new for this year. Also found was a black swallowtail, the second I've seen there this spring, and several each of cabbage whites and common ringlets.
Mating Eastern forktails (Ischnura verticalis)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Diane was at the FWG on Sunday morning for a short period. She photographed this comfrey plant and then found some pretty insects on another comfrey.
Mating Two-spotted stink bugs (Cosmopepla bimaculata) on comfrey
Diane said "I was happy to see that we have Cosmopepla bimaculata visiting the butterfly meadow this year. Saw this pair mating on a Comfrey plant."
Speckled Green Fruitworm (Orthosia hibisci), #10495
Diane went to the Butterfly Meadow and notes "I found a green caterpillar on a green plant and it is a moth caterpillar called Orthosia hibiscis - Speckled Green Fruitworm. The adult is not as spectacular, it is brown with not much of a pattern."
Hover fly (Eristalis arbustorum)
Diane also saw this hover fly (Syrphid).
And she saw this grasshopper.
Rose (Rosa sp.)
"The butterfly meadow is colourful with the variety of flowers blooming and purple lupines are predominant. The Cedar Waxwings, A.Goldfinches, Red-winged blackbirds, Song sparrows were flying around."
Lupines in the Butterfly Meadow
Common Grackle with food
"When I approached the pond I saw a Common Grackle sitting on a bird box with a caterpillar in his beak."
Virginia ctenucha moth caterpillar (Ctenucha virginica) , #8262
This little guy was on a goldenrod in the Old field.
The bill on the duck seems to be either injured or deformed. However, in all the time I watched him, he seemed to be unaffected by it, able to feed and groom normally. Not sure if this is a mallard-black duck hybrid.
Ducks on raft
Although the turtles are ignoring our raft, thus far, the green herons and ducks seem to like it just fine. I've noticed lots of downy feathers around the raft showing that ducks are using it for a good perch on which to do a bit of preening, as these two are.
newly planted cedars
Friday was a very busy day at the FWG. In addition to the usual Friday morning volunteers, many of whom were preparing for the big plant sale at the garden tomorrow, there was a group of volunteers from Price-Waterhouse. These folk did us a tremendous favour by planting 35 large cedars in clumps in the Ravine. This is very satisfying to us as we've wanted to create some winter shelter there for a long time. The clearing of buckthorn last year was the perfect opportunity to do so. Grateful thanks to these volunteers!
Here is the team that planted all those cedars, as well as watering and mulching them. We are very appreciative of their work! Thanks, guys!
Hobomok skipper ()Poanes hobomok) on DSV
I had been looking for these skippers and finally found them in their usual spot, same location I have found them for the last three or four years. There were two males together here and possibly a third, and another one in another part of the garden. We should start to see more and more skippers over the next week if the weather remains sunny and warm.
Volunteers at work
Some of our own volunteers were working elsewhere in the garden too. Here, two are removing Manitoba maple saplings from around a large hawthorn in order to allow this shrub to grow better.
Calligrapher beetle (Calligrapher philadelphica)
I always check the dogwoods at this time of year and through the summer for these gorgeous beetles and I was not disappointed.
Dogwood calligrapher (Calligrapher philadelphica)
4 June 2009
Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillar (Nymphalis milberti)
Diane found a group of Milbert's Tortoiseshell caterpillars on nettle in the new Butterfly Meadow. Diane and her volunteers have been creating a new section of the existing meadow and they planted nettle for butterflies last year. Clearly it has worked!!
4 June 2009
Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillar (Nymphalis milberti)
On nettle, their larval food.
4 June 2009
Milbert"s Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillars (Nymphalis milberti)
On nettle, their larval food.
Fourteen-spotted lady beetle(Propylaea quatuordecimpunctata)
This afternoon was interesting in terms of variety. I found a green lacewing in the Old field, unfortunately unable to get a photo of this pretty, ethereal Neuroptera. Posted yesterday on the blog, were photos of those funny little Publilia treehoppers that I like so much. The ones that are carefully tended by ants. The ants remind me of cowboys tending their herd! This non-native 14-spotted lady beetle was also found.
Long-jawed orbweaver (Tetragnatha sp.)
Quite a few spiders including a tiny jumping spider, one of the Phidippus sp., another large, brown spider that looked very interesting except I was unable to get more than one poor photo and a look that lasted 20 seconds. Hanging out on the DSV were some long-jawed orbweavers.
Confused haploa caterpillar (Haploa confusa), #8112
There were some Haploa caterpillars around on both Hound's tongue and Gromwell.
Goldenrod beetle larva (Trirhabda sp.)
Syrphids are beginning to be more and more noticeable, which makes me happy as they are one of my favourite dipteran groups. I've added two more species to our list of FWG Syrphids this year, and have another which I am just waiting ID confirmation on. I've already had one expert look at my photo and he agrees it is probably Melanostoma, but I'm waiting for additional confirmation. The other two new species are Syrphus sp. and Platycheirus sp. The Syrphus was found about 3 weeks ago, the other two yesterday. Today, there was also an Helophilus as well as a Syritta. Also found were some of the indigo blue larvae of the Goldenrod beetle on, where else, goldenrod.
Some odonates around today as well: A bluet sp., several eastern forktails, minute little things, and a dark dragonfly that flew past at great speed and vanished so I was unable to get even a hint of family, let alone ID it.
As for birds, it was pretty good both days. All spring I've been quite sure that grackles have nested by the pond, and today I had confirmation of that. Adults were carrying food to a barely fledged young in the pond. This is another addition to our list of breeding species for the garden. No doubt grackles have nested there before and we've not noticed, for they are hardly an uncommon species! However, this is the first spring where they have been consistently present every time I visit and behaving in ways that indicate they are nesting. They were quite ticked off at a red squirrel and three grackles chased the little guy up and down one of the willows by the pond. They seemed very upset with it, no doubt because reds are egg and nestling predators.
I found a couple of yellow warblers engaging in courtship, with the male feeding the female. At times she seemed to be trying to get away from this constant feeding, but nothing daunted, he'd pluck another insect and hurry off to feed his lady love :-)
Barn swallows were mud-gathering at a damp, muddy spot on the edge of the garden. I hoped to be able to get a photo of them doing this but when I moved in a little closer they flew away, and then flew around and around without landing, so I left them to it. Also around were several northern rough-winged swallows, as well as the tree swallows.
A great-crested flycatcher seems to be back, and noisily so, at the garden. A pair of American redstarts are still there, as are several red-eyed vireos, a pair of eastern kingbirds, a small flock of cedar waxwings, and all the other usual birds.
Common grackle, fledged young
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrhinchium sp.)
There were a dozen or so of these little native plants which are not grasses, despite their common name, but rather members of the Iris family.
After the rain and cool weather of the last four days, today was a mix of sun and cloud and at about +14, relatively mild. The Butterfly meadow is starting to become bloom-filled. You can see the lupines and Dame's rocket, and further away, comfrey is flowering. All non-native, but all very attractive to bumblebees and other insects.
A close-up of one of the lupines.
New bench by the Butterfly meadow
We now have another bench, courtesy of our volunteers. This one is by the Butterfly meadow and I took advantage of it, being tired from the cold or flu that I've had the last few days. It is in a good position to look out over the meadow and watch for butterflies, other insects and birds. A few cabbage whites were around, and a couple of silvery blues.
Gretchen trying out the new bench
The new bench is fabulous! A perfect addition to the garden.
Cabbage white (Pieris rapae)
One of several cabbage white butterflies seen today. It was not warm enough for a lot of butterfly activity, unfortunately. There were many other insects out, however. Lots of bumblebee queens, but also, for the first time this year, I saw workers, meaning that those early queen bees I saw have established a successful colony. There were also various syrphid flies, brilliant green halictid bees, some andrenid bees, and many haploa caterpillars.
This little guy was sitting on top of a spruce and singing his heart out. These birds are nesting now and Diane photographed them with food which they were taking back to their young. Many, many birds are already nesting at the garden, so it is a time to be careful and heedful of where you go and what you do.
Birds nesting sign
Because so many birds are nesting, we've placed a few temporary signs around the garden, asking people to be careful.
Publilia treehoppers with ant
Every year about this time I go looking for these little treehoppers at FWG. And sure enough, there they were, quite abundant at the moment. They are being carefully tended by ants who protect them from predators, and in return the ants feed on the honeydew secreted by these bugs.
Publilia concava treehoppers with ants
Another photo of the treehoppers and their guardians!
Dog-strangling vine (DSV) flowers
Although it seems that it was only yesterday that I reported the first DSV plants were emerging, now many are already in flower!
Mayapple (Podyphyllum peltata
This plant is also called Mandrake. It grows in the Ash woods at FWG. A native species but with a range somewhat south of us.
click on thumbnails for full image