Sweat bees in the yard

Sweat bee (Halictus poeyi) "face." Boca Raton, FL, February 7, 2015.

Sweat bees are fairly common. We get two kinds here in my yard, neither of which are common enough to have common names, but which I see fairly frequently: Agapostemon splendens and Halictus poeyi. The “splendid” green Agapostemon moves very quickly; a good shot of it is fairly rare. But H. poeyi is a bit more sedate, allowing for some decent portraits. Here are a few.

From a post in 2012:

From bugguide.net, where I posted the pic to confirm the ID this fall:

Sweat bee (Halictus poeyi). Boca Raton, FL, October 5, 2014.

And from this […]

Odonates returning

Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata). Boca Raton, FL, February 3, 2015.

As the calendar turns from January to February, damselflies and dragonflies are returning to the yard. Today three lovely male Citrine Forktails (Ischnura hastata) were in the back yard while I was baby sitting for three-year-old Daniel, home with a respiratory infection. (Yay, work from home.)

While he was helpfully turning the back yard into mud, I was able to corral one of the damselflies near a lovely blue Salvia flower on the side of the house (it’s not Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea, but a new variety I picked up recently—long enough ago, though, that I forget which species it […]

New backyard bug: The eyes have it

Band-eyed Drone Fly (Eristalinus taeniops). Boca Raton, FL, February 1, 2015.

I like to start the new month with a photo sweep of the yard, just to record what’s present. I’m still trying to re-establish my monthly inventory that got zapped when my hard drive failed and my backup wouldn’t restore, so I’m putting some extra effort into it these days. (And making sure that my data is backed up redundantly.)

This month I found a new species for the yard: the Band-eyed Drone Fly (Eristalinus taeniops) a flower fly from the Old World that was introduced (accidentally, I understand) into Florida back in the 1980s. (You can read more about […]

Green Herons in winter

Green heron (Butorides virescens). Boca Raton, FL, January 29, 2015.

Apparently Green Herons like to poke their long noses into everything in winter. I first found one hanging out in my yard a couple of Novembers ago; today, while searching for other things, I saw this one in a corner of the yard where the grass is longer. I’m guessing it’s going after the lizards that litter the place.

Green heron (Butorides virescens). Boca Raton, FL, January 29, 2015.

Nice to see something other than the “typical” blue jay/cardinal/dove conglomerate.

[…]

Ladybug life cycle

Ladybug_sequence_20150101-2

As the new year begins, one’s thoughts turn to renewal and the cyclical nature of time. However, I’m not going to bore you all with my ruminations on the nature of being and time. Instead, I thought I might try to illustrate renewal through a life-cycle entry. And, as luck would have it, I was able to document nearly the entire life cycle of a beneficial insect, the Asian multicolored lady beetle, on the first day of January, 2015 (although it took a few more days to get a real shot of the 3rd stage, the pupa).

There are many […]

New backyard bug: Asian mango flower beetle

Asian mango flower beetle (Protaetia fusca). Boca Raton, FL, December 17, 2014.

December has been chilly here; the longest stretch of cold nights I can remember, punctuated by lovely cool and ever-so-slightly-warm by the afternoon days. After nearly fifteen years here, I feel like I’m finally getting my money’s worth out of living in the Sunshine State.

The cool weather, though, has slowed the flowering in my yard, and with the smaller nectar and pollen crop that’s available in these shorter days, I’ve seen fewer insects, and with fewer insects, there have been fewer birds around. I still see the wintering palm warblers, and now and then the kestrel shows back up […]

Atalas in November

Atala hairstreak (Eumaeus atala), Boca Raton, FL, November 23, 2014.

It seems that every November the Atalas cruise through my neighborhood. There are supposed to be several broods per year, but each and every documented sighting I have had on my property has been in the month of November. And last December I installed their larval host plant, coontie (Zamia pumila), so they might have a reason to stay:

Florida coontie (Zamia punila). Boca Raton, FL, November 24, 2014.

Of course, not every butterfly that stays is happy to have done so:

Atala (Eumaeus atala) hairstreak butterfly that has seen better days. Boca Raton, FL, November 13, 2014.

[…]

October inventory, part two

Wasp, Conura species. Boca Raton, FL, October 30, 2014.

October of 2014 was a tale of two months, it seems. The first half of the month continued the late wet season trend of several days with rainfall, which seems to have increased the number of dragonflies and damselflies in the yard compared to the second half of the month, which had about as many days with rain, but not clustered together as much.

New species for the second half of the month:

Hummingbirds returned; I actually got buzzed by one as I was out lamenting the latest scale infestation on the firebush; they love the red tubular flowers of […]

New Backyard Butterfly: Martial Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon martialis)

Martial Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon martialis). Boca Raton, FL, October 17, 2014.

With my new “monthly inventory” program underway, I’m taking a bit more time in the mornings and at lunch out in the yard, weeding when windy, taking pictures when calm. And one day this month, I found something quite rare: a butterfly that’s normally seen (when seen at all) in the Keys or in Cuba! Martial Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon martialis) is an unassuming little guy, like most hairstreaks on the small side. But two curly tails add some visual interest, and the rarity adds even more.

Cech and Tudor, authors of the definitive butterfly guide to the East Coast describe its […]

Monthly inventory

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis genera). Boca Raton, FL, October 3, 2014.

October is a month of transition here in south Florida. The wet days of the rainy season start to taper off, giving way to the first few cooling breaths of our short-lived autumn, eventually to be followed by the drier and steadier days of our wintertime dry season (which usually arrives around November). That doesn’t mean it won’t rain; we still get appreciable rainfall in this last month of the wet season, but the rains are punctuated by spells of drier, cooler weather, that is much welcomed after the long, hot days of summer.

The first […]