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.

Playing Catch-Up 3

by Carl Strang

The remaining photos in the hopper are of Lepidoptera, mainly moths, but we’ll begin with a butterfly.

Wild indigo dusky wings usually don’t wander far from their food plants at Mayslake Forest Preserve, which has both white wild indigo and, until the restoration team succeeds in eradicating it, crown vetch.

Wild indigo dusky wings usually don’t wander far from their food plants at Mayslake Forest Preserve, which has both white wild indigo and, until the restoration team succeeds in eradicating it, crown vetch.

Now for two views of different individuals of a geometrid moth called the confused eusarca.

This is a common color pattern in geometrids. One important distinguishing detail for this species is that the long line does not reach the wingtip.

This is a common color pattern in geometrids. One important distinguishing detail for this species is that the long line does not reach the wingtip.

This oblique angle provides additional detail, as well as offering an opportunity to see some individual variation.

This oblique angle provides additional detail, as well as offering an opportunity to see some individual variation.

The forage looper is a very common moth in our area.

The forage looper is a very common moth in our area.

This white-spotted sable was not interested in giving me a dorsal angle, so I settled for an oblique ventral one.

This white-spotted sable was not interested in giving me a dorsal angle, so I settled for an oblique ventral one.

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