Fun with flora and fauna

For the past few days, I have been enjoying the emergence and maturation of a new crop of blossoms in our garden.  And—no great surprise here—it seems that the closer I look, the more I see.  I have a friend (Margot) up in Minneapolis who is an entomologist, and she has been, on several occasions, invaluable in helping me to give accurate names to some of my subjects.  I sent her copies of these images, and I have her to thank for the taxonomic information.

My first was a truly tiny insect that I observed resting on a petal of our flowering crabapple tree.  I thought it might be a kind of winged aphid, but Margot tells me that it’s a lace bug, family Tingidae.
Lace bug on crabapple 9981For my last two offerings, while I was having a close look at the many blossoms from our mainly weed-ish ground cover of false (or mock) strawberry (Duchesnia indica), I noticed that tiny insects had taken up positions in about 20-25% of the blossoms.  Margot informs me that they are likely male and female midges (Chironomidae).
Male midge on false strawberry 51Female midge on false strawberry 42She goes on to say that males have plumose antennae, which provide more surface area to pick up the female pheromones.  They are non-biting, with a short proboscis, and are often mistaken for mosquitoes; some species are much larger than these and are lighter in color, and the antennae are usually much more feathery than those of mosquitoes, but overall, the species have the same general appearance.  There are over 100 genera & at least 2000 species in North America; new ones are discovered frequently.  They occupy many different aquatic habitats and can be found in marine littoral zones, mountain streams, arctic bogs, mangrove swamps and deep lakes, as well as polluted waters.  They are considered the most widely adapted of all aquatic insects.  Adults often emerge in very large swarms and are important as fish and bird food.


About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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13 Responses to Fun with flora and fauna

  1. Frank Wallace says:

    Love it when you talk Latin!

  2. Truly exceptional photos.

  3. Mike Powell says:

    Nice shots of what look to be some really tiny insects. It’s pretty cool too that you know an entomologist, who can help with identifications. That seems to be a particular problem for me with the smaller insects (and birds).

    • krikitarts says:

      She’s a great person to know and to have as a resource. They have a cabin near ours in Minnesota. There are some great websites for insect & spider identification, and surely many more for birds. But it’s great to be able to tap someone’s personal knowledge once in a while. I try not to pester her too often, though!

  4. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Great shots. The insect in the 2nd image truly does look like a ‘mozzie’.

    • krikitarts says:

      Yup, CD was pretty sure it was, but the two looked different enough to be of different sexes, and I couldn’t see any typical long proboscis for puncturing and sucking (as you probably know, only the females bite–the males live on plant juices), so time to consult the expert!

  5. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful pictures, Gary – portraits really, but with the added value of the creatures’ environments; excellent compositions too. Adrian

  6. krikitarts says:

    They couldn’t have been better subjects if I had paid them to sit (well, stand) for portrait shots. They did not seem to mind my proximity and maneuvering around in the least. And it was windy on both occasions; the yellow flowers were not much of a problem, being so close to the ground, but the crabapple was a real challenge, its blossom being on the end of a long, supple branch.

  7. Finn says:

    That last shot is superb Gary. Good to know they don’t bite when they swarm.

    I wish I had a tame entomologist, and a tame mycologist too. It would save me hours and hours of research and some less than certain conclusions.

    • krikitarts says:

      I don’t know if your descriptor is quite accurate or appropriate, but I really like the concept! I really try not to bother her too often, as I know that she’s really busy with more important things than my occasional plea for help. Actually, regarding a mycologist, I have consulted one with a WP website, and he seemed quite willing to answer the occasional question. I just did a quick search, and am not sure enough to add his site here, but I’ll e-mail it to you.

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