New backyard insect: Megachilid bee sp., subgenus Chelostomoides

New backyard insect: Megachilid bee sp., subgenus Chelostomoides
Being a backyard naturalist has its ups and downs. It’s fun to get to know your little corner of the earth well enough to know when something new (to you, if not to science) appears there. Lately I’ve been noticing how many different species of bees there are. Of course the most common bee in ...

Step into my parlor…

Step into my parlor...
…said the spider to the lady beetle. And yet, nothing happened. This morning before work I went out and, as usual, was taking pictures of whatever I could find in the yard. I found this lovely Southern Sprite damselfly (first of the season): It’s always a pleasure to see these relatively rare damselflies. (Odd, too, how abundance is ...

Sweat Bees, or, spring is happening…

Sweat Bees, or, spring is happening...
…and the bees are buzzing with excitement. I was out in the yard at lunchtime, as usual, and I noticed more than the usual activity around the flowerbeds in front. There were these little yellow blurs zipping from flower to flower in the Gaillardia. These are among the prettiest flowers in south Florida, although I ...

Zebra heliconian

Zebra heliconian
Some days, you just get lucky. This Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia) just sat patiently on a leaf letting me snap pictures as I walked closer and closer.

New backyard butterfly: Dainty Sulphur

New backyard butterfly: Dainty Sulphur
April’s showers have brought an explosion of new insect life to the garden. This morning I went out to check on the new plantings (record heat yesterday had made me concerned despite the relatively frequent recent rains) and discovered at least a half dozen Halloween Pennant dragonflies: Three or four little blue dragonlets (yes, this ...

Damselfeast 2015

Damselfeast 2015
The Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (Ischnura hastata) is one of the more widespread and common damselflies in my area, and across the southern part of the country, really. Its range even extends into Hawaii, according to the sightings map from Odonata Central: There are a couple of reasons this damselfly has such an extensive range. One ...

Just in time for Fly-day

Just in time for Fly-day
A few flies I’ve seen this spring. A common hover fly, Toxomerus geminatus: A less common drone fly, Eristalinus taeniops: A common (in my garden) syrphid fly, Palpada vinetorum: None of these flies would find my yard at all attractive without the flowers that grow in it. And I would probably find my yard a ...

Large moths

Large moths
Over the years I’ve found some big moths on the property, both as larvae and as adults. When I say big, I mean big enough that people notice them, not the little tiny guys that are present by the hundreds in the grasses and flower beds. I’m talking sphinx moths, family Sphingidae, also known as hawk ...

Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard

Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard
After a dry beginning to March (and no rain since then, but at least the heat’s moderated a bit for the past few days), the odonates have started returning to the yard, just in time for the equinox! One or two of them run into mishaps: but by and large they are still the most ...

New backyard bug: Ammophila pictipennis

New backyard bug: <em>Ammophila pictipennis</em>
It’s been a hot, dry, and windy March leading up to the Ides this year. Not great for photographing insects. But one evening as I was dragged out into the back yard by my soon-to-be 4-year old, I saw a large, slow-moving wasp. I ran back inside to grab my camera and was able to ...