We are experiencing very serious (officially “exceptional”) drought conditions here in Omaha, having had no rain worth mentioning since June. Vast patches of vegetation (meadows, grasslands, lawns, etc.) are horribly dry, brown, brittle, and parched. There was a 5-minute shower of light drizzle yesterday, but it seems that any real rain that starts evaporates before it makes groundfall. Still, some of the flora are continuing to hold their own. I’ve been watchful to see what is available for the little folk who depend on flowering vegetation, especially since we had to remove the cucumber vine, growing in the three-lobed sumac hedge, that was so attractive to the skippers and hairstreaks whose portraits I offered recently, since we understand that it’s a pernicious, invasive weed. So I have been watching the rest of the garden for activity. One plant that has managed to hold its own is our trumpet vine, which uses an alder as its foundation. We have had a bit of a break in the extreme heat that we’ve been experiencing, and around mid-afternoon today my photo angel, Frances, whispered in my ear that it was time to go out to see what was afoot in the foliage.
I went straight for the trumpet vine. There were lots of little bumblebees (Bombus impatiens?), as usual, but the first thing that really caught my eye was an elegant, small, black wasp with yellowish-white markings. I went back into the house to get my camera and when I returned, it was not readily visible, so I had a closer look at the bumblebees.
My black wasp (probably a diggerer wasp, one of the Crabronidae, possibly a Cerceris sp.) finally made a reappearance a few minutes later, but didn’t stay for long.
Fortunately, a nearby movement caught my attention just about the time that the wasp left and I found, to my delight, that a Red-Banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cycrops) had decided to pay a visit. I featured this exquisite, tiny butterfly in a recent post, and I was elated to have another one to study on this occasion. The lighting was quite a challenge, with bright sunlight and deep shadows, but I am a patient person and I waited for the better part of an hour for it to position itself in advantageous light a few times.
While I was standing there, trying my best to be still and ready for the few moments when the light was good, the bumblebees kept up their uninterrupted activity in the immediate vicinity, and I just happened to be ready and shooting when one approached the blossom on which my Hairstreak subject was perched. I cannot take full credit for this shot—I was there and ready, in the right place and at the right time, true, but I have Frances (and continuous drive) to thank for granting me this capture of the serendipitous approach of the incoming bumblebee.