Fresh Mayslake Insects
July 22, 2015 at 5:47 am (plant-eating insects)
Tags: Bombus fervidus, Caenurgina erechtea, drone, forage looper, Mayslake, red twin-spot, Xanthorhoe ferrugata
by Carl Strang
An alertness to the small things, backed by a bit of knowledge, can add interest and beauty to a walk in the wild places.
The forage looper, like so many moths, has a subtle beauty that rewards scrutiny.
This tiny geometrid is the red twin-spot, and was an addition to the Mayslake Forest Preserve species list when I found it last week.
Insect behavior also is worthy of study, especially when it is odd.
This guy was acting for all the world like a Laphria bumble bee mimic robber fly. It perched on the tip of a Liatris stalk, frequently turning to scan its surroundings, occasionally moving to another stalk.
It was not a fly, however. No beak, a fat rather than flattened abdomen, and once it spread its wings and revealed two on each side. This was in fact a bumble bee. Why the odd behavior?
My, what big eyes you have, Grandpa! This is a drone. Of the species known to occur at Mayslake, it seems most likely to be Bombus fervidus, the yellow bumble bee.
The odd behavior implies this was a male on the make. His search was not for prey, but for a passing queen of his kind. His is not a highly abundant species at Mayslake, so he may have to wait a while.