Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun Bugs at Wood Lake

Over the past couple years I have spent a lot of time in fields. I walk through the grasses and wild flowers in search of interesting wildlife to take pictures of. Often I am surrounding by the buzzing of bees as they move from bloom to bloom but never while I have been out photographing insects in the field have I ever been stung. Unfortunately I can not say the same thing as far as being in my truck driving home from work.

Last fall as I got into my truck to come home from work I was stung on my arm by a yellow jacket. That was nothing though compared to this year. Yesterday I was on my way home from work, driving down the freeway when I felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder blade. Right away I thought that I had been stung but since I was on a freeway I could not stop. I leaned forward in my car seat and began to feel around for the culprit. I found nothing. I began to wonder if it was not just a nerve spike that sometimes I get as a diabetic, although usually in my arms, hands, feet or legs, especially since I had not heard any buzzing and I had been driving for over 15 minutes before the pain started. I began to relax and since the initial pain was diminishing began to slowly sit back. That was when I felt another shot of pain. Fortunately I was getting off the freeway and only a few minutes from home so I drove the rest of the way home leaning forward. When I got home I took off my shirt off right away and ran to the mirror to take a look. Sure enough there were 3 sting marks on my back but I still did not know what happened to the bee. That was until I shook my shirt out a bit and out fell a yellow jacket.

Maybe I should look into getting a bee keepers suite to keep me safe on my drive home.
In the fields I will just keep wearing jeans and a tee shirt because out there the bees, like the one above, are more interested in collecting pollen and nectar then they are stinging me. This bee is pretty loaded up with pollen, you can see the full orange pollen sack on its leg.
I was kind of excited to get these next couple of pics. Not because the red milkweed beetle is a rare insect that is difficult to find but instead because one of the guys that I work with went to college down in Austin, Texas and he is a big Texas Longhorn fan.
These beetles lay their eggs at the base of the milkweed plant. When the eggs hatch the larvae bore into the milkweed stem. They will spend the winter as larvae down in the roots. In the spring they will pupate and emerge as adults early in the summer. The adults usually can be found eating milkweed leaves, the toxicity of which make the red milkweed beetle a distasteful morsel to most predators.
The mourning cloak butterfly, on the other hand, is one of the few butterflies that over winters as an adult, in the northern portions of its range. This butterfly hibernates in suspended animation in a sheltered location over the winter. During this time the mourning cloak secretes chemicals like sorbital into their bodies which act as a natural antifreeze and prevent ice crystals from forming inside the butterfly.
This last picture is I believe a moth but I have no idea what kind. I am hoping that maybe some of the people over at, who I invited to come and take a look at the blog, can give me some idea as to what type of moth that this is. If you think that you might have an idea please post a comment to this post.


NW Nature Nut said...

That red milkweek beetle is WAY cool! I love it! The color is dymanmic. We don't have milkweed here like you do, so no beetle I guess. Great photos as usual.

Leedra said...

The Red Milk Weed Beetle photographs are awesome. And as usual you taught me something, the pollen sack on the bee. I will now be on the look out for that.

You also took me back to when I used to ride my own Harley. I was on a country road and felt something go straight in my top. It was sorta cool, so I have 3 shirts on. After traveling several miles, came into town, and when I pulled the front (hand) brake I upset the bee and it started moving around under my 4th layer. I got scared, it was probably comical to the motorist behind me, but was not to me.

Baker's Venom Cleanser for Sting Cure said...
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Ecobirder said...

Thanks NWNN. Must be tough with no milkweed, not only do u get no milkweed beetle you also probaby do not see many monarchs or other milkweed butterflies.

Funny story Leedra. The pollen sacks on a bee that you see may be a different color then the one in my pic. The color is determined by the type of flower that the bee gets the pollen from.

Sorry bee sting cure one commercial is enough.