Friday, June 14, 2013

Weather Whinging, Camouflage, Violets & Mosquitoes

Bombus rufocinctus queen climbing Jacob's Ladder in a rare ray of sunshine
Those of you who make a habit of reading this blog already know that I make a habit of whinging about Edmonton's weather. Although I have taken every opportunity to point out its failings, the Weather has yet to improve one bit. I give up! If it wants to rain every day in June, then let it. Instead here are a few interesting bugs and flowers from those rare moments between showers. Goldenrod is a great flower for insects, and so, always a joy to see in bloom (even though it means 'summer' is ending), but not especially interesting before it blooms - except this year. 
What the ...? 
Synchlora aerata (Fabricius, 1798), otherwise known as the Wavy-lined Emerald is a new visitor to the Home Bug Garden. Or at least I think it is - the first one I saw looked more like bits of leaves stuck in a spider web than a caterpillar and I wonder how many I'd missed in the past. Also known as the Camouflaged Inchworm (aka Looper), this geometer larva likes to eat a variety of composites - and adorn itself with bits of leaves and flowerheads. Many geometer caterpillars do very good imitations of twigs or are pale green with light longitudinal lines that blend into vegetation, but this was the first I've seen that dresses up the better to not be seen. Miklos Treiber studied some of these caterpillars and found the process was more or less continuous - as the fragments dried out the inchworm added new bits of plant (using a glue-like substance from its mouth).
Synchlora aerata (Fabricius, 1798) inching along
Anyway, there is lots of goldenrod, gayfeather and Joe Pye Weed in the Home Bug Garden, so the Camouflage Inchworm should feel right at home. Also popping up in a brief bit of sun is another native plant, the Prairie Violet Viola pedatifida
Prairie Violet Viola pedatifida
Also called the Crowfoot, Birdfoot or Larkspur Violet because of its dissected leaves, unlike most violets, this one likes it relatively hot and dry - gravelly hillsides and prairie grasslands being it usual habitats in Alberta. 'Hot and dry' are not appropriate terms for a garden in Edmonton, but two of the three plants I put into the southwest corner of the Home Bug Garden survived the winter and bloomed. 
AKA Crowfoot, Birdfoot and Larkspur Violet
Finally who can resist the charms of Edmonton's most famous flying insect, the mosquito. We bug paparazzi flock to them whenever we see them and try to annoy them as much as they annoy us. Here's one mugging for two cameras.
Two views of one mozzie.

1 comment:

  1. That caterpillar is fascinating! I would never have been able to identify that if I found one in my garden. You seem to be a lot friendlier to mosquitoes than me, as well- we just started using sector mosquito spray around our backyard to keep them at bay.