Treasure

The photo101 assignment was to find a treasure and zoom in.

I saw three different kinds of sunflower still in bloom today and so did every imaginable insect out there. Butterflies, beetles, wasps … sunflowers were hosting parties for a lot of hungry minibeasts.

November sunflower
November sunflower

The big thrill for me was seeing a paper wasp. That makes two in as many days. They are normally really common around here but I have seen hardly any this year. They are gentle creatures that can learn to recognize faces. There was a time when we hosted huge colonies in our car port. They would fly right up to my face and follow me around the yard.

Polistes exclamans (paper wasp)
Polistes exclamans (paper wasp)

Another kind of wasp. I -think- this is a solitary digger wasp.

black digger wasp
Sphex pensylvanicus maybe?

The flowers were as busy as airport terminals. I saw a few caterpillars and true bugs hanging out but i mostly saw honey bees and native bees getting busy with the tiny perfect flowers called florets. The idea that each sunflower disk may hold a thousand or more flowers inside kind of blows my mind. No wonder they were drawing a crowd.

DSCN8530

Marching to the beat of a different drum, this cheeky pest was doing its best to eat a yellow corona. Who knew sunflowers were so gooey good?

Diabrotica undecimpunctata (spotted cucumber beetle)
Diabrotica undecimpunctata (spotted cucumber beetle)
holey sunflower
holey sunflower

On my short walk I did see some other flowers still in bloom  (mealy sage, evening primrose, asters, rosemary, autumn sage, goldeneye) but none of them seemed as busy as the  sunflowers. Good thing they won’t be quitting any time soon.

DSCN3229

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16 thoughts on “Treasure

  1. Jim that is a fascinating question. I like the way you think.

    I wonder if paper wasps learn to recognize pet faces as well? At any rate, we’ve got a fair number around here but I’ve had to battle their apparent desire to build nests close to our front and back doors. They kept getting trapped inside and our cats would hunt them. I knock down any/all nests close to the house but put out craft store bird houses (that birds typically reject) they seem happy to colonize. (sidetracked!)

    The photos are wonderful but I especially like the echo of the cucumber beetle’s color with the bloom it is devouring.

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    1. I love your idea for relocation. They do like those fake bird houses. heh. I don’t know what happens if they don’t recognize you. Like, you don’t get invited over for Christmas? I have wondered what would happen if a person got a reputation as being a problem. Would they attack them the way crows will attack known trouble makers? It is probably just my fancy that they knew me since I don’t know if it has ever been scientifically verified if they can recognize human faces. They may have just been interested in me pointing out spiders and caterpillars for them. They can recognize each other though.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/11/111202-wasps-people-faces-recognition-insects-science-animals/

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  2. Beautiful photographs Debra, do you know why the Paper wasp is so rare now for you? I read the incredibly sad WWF Living Planet report that said the earth has lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years.

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    1. I don’t know the cause of their complete disappearance but I have noted that a few other people on the Texas Garden Forum have also noticed their absence. The larger a colony gets the more likely it can fail from parasites so it could be idiosyncratic to my neighbourhood. But I wonder. Half of the vetebrates have disappeared in the last 40 years. But what of the invertebrates (especially common ones) — who monitors their populations? And I suspect that invertebrates are probably more at risk because so many poisons target them directly.

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    1. Well, in more than 10 years they never stung me. My husband says one stung him as he was getting out of the car once. Maybe he hit one with a car door or something. The local common name for them is ‘yellowjacket’ but they are nothing like hornets which is a good thing since they are big — about the length of my thumb.

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  3. Those were interesting photos. It would be kind of distracting to have the wasps fly around checking out my face. What do they do if they don’t recognize you?

    The green cucumber beetle looked well fed.

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    1. Thanks, Jim. The wasps were curious I think and never a bother. They’d look and then take off to do whatever it is they do all day. They never once did anything threatening to me in all the years we have lived here. I miss their presence.

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