Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Deluges & Devil's Darning Needles

Bee-dazzled, not; be-puddled instead
"Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud, Turn forth her silver lining on the night?" Perhaps John Milton (1634) had a better relationship with clouds than I, but for the last few days the clouds over the Home Bug Garden have been turning forth only rain and mud. Not the best of bugging weather, but it does make it easier to approach some of the larger insects, such as this black & blue beauty.
Back end of a Devil's Darning Needle
The largest insects to grace the Home Bug Garden are usually not natives, but transients. In particular, large dragonflies in the genus Aeshna: the Mosaic Darners. As large as small birds (about 7 cm long with a 9 cm wingspread), and every bit as agile when warm, the darners clackety swoops and hairpin turns never fail to impress, especially in the confines of a small garden.
Rather demonic looking, especially if you are a mosquito
Well, maybe having a large insect zipping circles around you isn't everyone's cup of tea, especially given the stories one hears about scolds, screeching children, and the profane having their lips sown shut by the Devil's Darning Needles. If only. Alas, the rude and over-excited have nothing to fear from darners.
Variable Darner, most likely, Aeschna interrupta
But one just-so story does have some basis in fact. Well-intentioned biologists often make preposterous claims about their favourite organism's abilities to protect us from pests. But unlike bats and spiders, darners really are bad-news for mosquitoes. 
Spiny legs scoop insects out of the air and into the maw of doom
During last year's horror mosquito summer, HBG and his wife had one magical half hour by the lake when about 3 dozen darners swooped in to attack. Back and forth almost faster than the eye could follow, the hovering cloud of mosquitoes disappeared as the darners scooped them out of the air and gobbled them up. Alas, they then moved on. Darners are superb fliers and able to stray far from their natal lakes and ponds.
Even an Oil Sands Beetle may prefer a cloud's illusion
Well, enough of clouds for the moment, and please let the Weather Office be right in its predictions for the next few days (even if it is by chance). I'm at the point where cloud illusions is what I would prefer to recall.

1 comment:

  1. Woah! Those shots are SO SHARP, they look like super realistic drawings. Amazing shots of such FABULOUS creatures. Thank you very much! =) Hope your weather clears a bit.