Fresh Mayslake Insects

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Lisa Rainsong said,

    July 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

    This is a wonderful post about looking at the details and watching behavior!


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