The monarch is back!

The monarchs are back. Well, at least one monarch. This one was trying to rest in the goldenrod this morning, but found himself being buffeted by breezes, honey bees, wasps and other pollinators. You can see the wear on his wings — appearing as scratches in some of his orange areas.


Life and death in the goldenrod, part I

We keep a patch of giant goldenrod growing at the front of the house to provide a way station for visiting monarch butterflies, but other insects make themselves at home there, including all manner of bees, wasps and wheelbugs. Wheelbugs, named for the cogged half wheel atop their armor, lay in wait in the yellow flowers, stalking their prey. The wheelbug in the top shot had caught a bumble bee and dragged it at least 5-6 feet before I stopped following it. The one in the second photo snagged a wasp.

The insects insert their beak into the prey, injecting a fluid that paralyzes and dissolves the victim’s insides, which accounts for why there seemed to be no fight left in either the bee or wasp.

Unrelated note — this is our 700th post!

Wheelbug dragging off prey.
Wheelbug, dusted with yellow pollen from the goldenrods, drags its prey.
Wheelbug eating wasp.
Inverted wheelbug eating wasp. Its cogged wheel can be seen running along its back.
In profile, you can see the wheel.
In profile, you can see the wheel.

Dance of the fieries

This fall has truly been a treat. Perfect weather and lots of activity in the fall blooms. Hard to believe we’re in the last half of October.

DANCING -- Two fiery skippers appear to perform an airborne tango in the garden.
LIT -- Sun warms this fiery skipper.

WING -- A closeup of a pearl crescent wing.

All the buzz

The goldenrod was full of wasps of all sorts, honeybees, carpenter bees, moths and a slender blue insect I’ve never seen before.

EXOTIC -- While the Hawaiian beet webworm sounds exotic, it's actually common all around the United States.
GREEN -- This delightfully playful looking cucumber beetle was among the many insects enjoying the goldenrod.

Butterflies and bees

Not all the color belongs to the flowers.  The succession of blooms in the small, then large goldenrods ensures a good four to six weeks of pure butterfly paradise. The cooler weather and light rain has also brought out the honey bees and other pollinators.

Viceroy butterfly 1.

Viceroy 3.
Viceroy 2.
The orange and black back of this net winged beetle contrasts nicely with goldenrod lit by a setting sun.
Correction: These are common buckeyes.
Single common buckeye butterfly.
Honeybees have returned to collect pollen.