I finally got Lightroom working on my computer again, so I’ve uploaded about three weeks worth of photos over the last few days. Three weeks of photos in my first ever real spring is a LOT of photos! But it also means that I have lots of photos I can choose from for Friday 5 this week. I decided to go with 5 I took today. I had gone out with my camera to photograph the dogwood trees for a piece I was writing about the trees for my work “blog,” but I went to look at the common milkweed to see if there was anything interesting monarch activity happening yet. I didn’t find any monarch eggs or larvae, but I did find several other insects! They included…
I have no idea what the earwigs are up to recently, but they are PACKED into the tips of nearly every milkweed plant at Prairie Ridge. Lots and lots of them. And they scatter when you start to peel the leaves back to photograph them. Kinda creepy, but kinda cool too!
This is one of the many, many, many non-native ladybugs that I’ve found at Prairie Ridge in the last few weeks. There have to be thousands of these out there! We found 103 of them during a program I did on Monday, and we only looked for 20 minutes… The kids are always so shocked to learn that the majority of the ladybugs we have at our site are non-natives since it looks like such a great, natural place, but nope. It’s non-native ladybug central! Those 103 ladybugs we found? Every single one was a seven-spotted ladybug, like the one you see in the photo above. I can’t even begin to describe how many of these we’re finding, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: they may be non-native, but I still kinda like them anyway. After all, how can you hold a grudge against a ladybug?!
Speaking of non-natives, the kudzu bugs are also visitors in our area, though these are quite unwelcome. They’re a highly destructive pest species of several plants (including kudzu, which is also non-native and highly invasive – the only silver lining to having kudzu bugs in the US!) and are spreading across the southeastern US. I saw hundreds of these today, all over the common milkweed, bronze fennel, and a few other plants. One of my coworkers told me about a tree that is covered with them somewhere on the grounds and said it was almost too much to look at. She’s an entomologist too, so it must be spectacular if she said it was gross! Of course, I really want to go see that tree now. To me, looking at insect infestations is sort of equivalent to how many people can’t help but look at car accidents: you are morbidly fascinated, even if it makes your skin crawl.
I’m honestly not sure what kind of stink bug this is as it seemed awfully small for a brown marmorated stink bug (also a pest in the southeast – we’ve got a lot of problems like that!), but has a lot of the right markings… Regardless, I thought this little guy was rather handsome. I have a soft place in my heart reserved for the true bugs and think they’re adorable. What can I say?
There are long-legged flies all over the grounds at work recently! I’ve seen hundreds of them myself, and that’s just in the upper parts of the ground that are easily accessible from my office. These little guys are gorgeous though! I caught this one in the shade, but in the sun they sport iridescent bronzes and greens and blues. These flies are also predators of other small insects, which makes them so much more than just a pretty face. :)
I saw several other fly species in the milkweed, as well as a wonderful treehopper that I wasn’t able to photograph before it got away. Then a few minutes later I came across a pipevine swallowtail laying her eggs on the woolly pipevine and got to watch her as she carefully deposited her eggs on a tender young leaf stem. I even saw a bunch of dragonflies and damselflies out over the grasses as I headed back to my office. What a great way break from working on my computer! I hope some of the rest of you get to take insect breaks now and then too. :)