Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). Boca Raton, FL, March 20, 2015.

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:

Watch where you fly! Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) served up for breakfast to a spiny-backed orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis). Boca Raton, FL, March 18, 2015.

but by and large they are still the most formidable airborne insect predators out there. Most of them sprint to safety as I approach, although the Blue Dasher […]

New backyard bug: Ammophila pictipennis

Ammophila pictipennis. Boca Raton, FL, March 12, 2015.

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 get a couple of shots in the gloaming; enough to capture the bicolored wings of the hunter wasp Ammophila pictipennis.

Ammophila pictipennis. Boca Raton, FL, March 12, 2015.

These solitary (nonsocial) wasps are in the family Sphecidae (hunter wasps). They’re large, up to an […]

Yes, but how hot does it feel?

This hot:

A few too many decimals for my comfort.

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


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 […]

November inventory

Hammock Skipper (Polygonus leo). Boca Raton, FL, November 27, 2014.

November was an interesting month here. Spells of cold, wintry air alternated with spells of heat and high humidity that spoke of summer. The bugs in the yard were confused, and the winds whipped up by all the changing weather made photography tricky. Nevertheless, I did manage to get a few new species, and to welcome a few returnees. The Atala hairstreak butterfly, considered extirpated from Florida (its only U.S. home) over fifty years ago, is now a fairly routine guest near any place that contains a sufficient supply of its its host plant, coontie (Zamia punila):

Atala hairstreak […]