September 18 – Bike rides and butterflies

I took a bike ride last weekend, lugging the big camera all the way.  It was a nice ride, except for the thick layer of rock they had recently put down on one of the gravel roads, on a long downhill at that.

Orb weaver in the morning. Early morning damsel.

The light on these guys was perfect.  I saw the spider web from my bike and stopped to get the shot.  Both of these were near the old “School Bus” bridge.

Leaf roller Painted lady

The rolled leaf was the home of a caterpillar, perhaps a pyralid moth larva.  It was chewed open, and the larva hauled off, probably by a wasp.  The carpenter wasp, one of the species I’ve worked on, does this, but so do paper wasps.

Later that same day, I walked around the yard looking for targets.  It’s a good time of year for butterflies and some other species, getting their last hurrah before it turns cold.

Silver-spotted skipper Bush katydid

This skipper is very common, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a pretty shot of it.  It is the largest of our skippers, and easily recognizable.  I haven’t bothered to learn the rest of them, but I’m thinking about it.   I saw this katydid land in the willow tree, then proceed to crawl around and chew on its leaves.  I didn’t know anything would eat willow.  This same katydid genus (Scudderia) is favored prey of black digger wasps. 

Paper wasp

This wasp is a male, as revealed by his yellow face.  Many are produced this time of year as nests reach their maximal size and next year’s queens begin to emerge.  The queens will live until next spring; I wouldn’t give this guy more than a couple of weeks.

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