April 21st, 2012 permalink
The Brighton millpond has lots of critters and many are aliens. Do you see one in the top picture? It’s an Asian ladybug (Harmonia axyridis). These bettles (they aren’t true “bugs”) arrived in the USA about 25 years although the US Department of Agriculture attempted to introduce them as early as 1916 to help control aphids on crops.
They arrived in Michigan by the mid-1990s and are now well established. Native Michigan ladybugs (Coccinelliadae) have fewer spots and black heads while the Asians usually have lots of spots and light colored heads. This one doesn’t have the characteristic “W” marking on the head (close up at right) but you can see it at Wikipedia. More than 450 species of ladybugs are in North America. Their color and spots vary. Michigan residents have discovered our new aliens sometimes bite! Native Michigan ones have better manners.
August 30th, 2010 permalink
While I’ll run from a yellow jacket, bumblebees are so unaggressive that I don’t feel the least bit uncomfortable hanging around them. Several were spending time on this unidentified wildflower which looks like a sweet pea of some sort on the banks of the Brighton millpond. I’ll post more pictures of the flower on another day.
Note there is no pollen sacs on these fellows. I think they come to this particular flower for the nectar but it must not produce much pollen. What I found most interesting is the way its large eyes look in the upper photo. At first, I thought the pattern in them were just reflections, but then I realized the coloration is coming from within them. Bees have compound eyes. I guess the color is from reflective surfaces within the eyes themselves.
In the lower image, I like the way the blue sky and buildings behind me are reflected in the shiny black chitin (the material of its exoskeleton) of the bee’s rear section (the abdomen). I think my reflection is there, too, but I can discern it. Click either image to download the larger version. Both have lots of detail.
June 20th, 2010 permalink
There are 2,500 species of mayflies and I have no idea what this one is, but I can tell you it was photographed in May. Imagine that. It was the only one I saw at the time. We have what is called “The Hatch” here in Michigan around the Great Lakes in mid-summer. I swam through it once while driving my car one evening. I mean it. Swam! It was like driving through a blizzard. When I stopped to fill my tank, the lights near the pumps had attracted a bazillion of them. They live from 30 minutes to just a day in their adult form after spending at least a year as naiads in lakes and streams. Carcasses sometimes accumulate like snowdrifts.
The June bug was photographed in June although several species answering to the same name and can be seen in other months. They aren’t “bugs,” they’re beetles. This one was staggering around on the millpond walkway. The large forewings, called elytra, aren’t used for flight. They are hard shields protecting the body and foldable hindwings. This beetle appears to have a damaged right hindwing.
Click either image to see larger versions for more detail. The cement walk under the June bug is fun to look at, too. It’s loaded with pebbles of all colors.
May 4th, 2010 permalink
This isn’t a particularly difficult quiz because the critter isn’t camoflaged. He’s just small in a visually complex pattern. I didn’t see it when I took the photo. When I get home and project the images on my large monitor, I like finding unexpected things. Look at the larger image, if you can’t spot him here. And, if you are really stumped, I’ve posted the answer.
February 22nd, 2010 permalink
I like to look at insects, but I don’t know what the hell I’m seeing most of the time. I’d rather spend my time looking at them than fiddling with guide books to identify them precisely. Consequently I have no idea what this is, but I can tell you it’s a miniature predator (about 1/16″) by its praying mantis-like forefeet with tiny hooks at the end. The spiny perch is the center of a purple coneflower about 1″ in diameter.
February 21st, 2010 permalink
We think of butterflies as fragile but they endure and often have the scars to prove it. This one is an Eastern Comma, I think. Seventy-six of the 500+ North American butterfly species are in the “True Brushfoots” category. There are several Commas varieties. They are named for a comma shaped mark on the underside of their back wings, not seen in this photograph. It bathed in the sun on my balcony one July afternoon. There is also a Question Mark brushfoot named for the same reason.
While Monarchs have up to four life cycles a year, Commas apparently have only two with the winter “form” seeking a comfy place to over-winter so they can breed in the spring. I believe this one is part of the summer “form” nearing the end of its life because its wings are scarred. Note the wide range of colors of the scales and hairs from purplish browns to green-tinged yellows. This butterfly identification site helped me create this post: www.butterfliesandmoths.org
December 16th, 2009 permalink
I rarely see cicadas. During the heat of the day in late August, I hear choirs of them buzz in the trees, but they stay hidden to avoid becoming lunch for the birds. I found this one resting on the decking of the Brighton Tridge. It was the only one I saw this year. A thunderstorm had drenched it earlier in the evening. Even though it was well after dark, the camera’s flash lit the droplets and infused them with midday sky blues. The long transparent wings look like delicate lace beaded with crystals, but they’re sturdy enough to easily transport the insect’s stout body. View the larger version to see the details.