Thursday, July 31, 2014

Common Milkweed and Milkweed Red Bugs...the Micro Environment

The Langer Farm, Rock County WI--  Red Milkweed bugs and Bumble Bees.
The larger environment of this particular Milkweed plant-unmowed verges, crop fields, numerous species of wildlife.
Immediate neighbors, non-native thistle and  Queen Anne's Lace.  (Later in the day.)

To be continued...


Monday, July 28, 2014

Stella Hamilton Hunts Pale Male and the Fledglings Plus Another Kind of "Hawk"

 7:20 PM  Pale Male rakes a fledgling Robin off the ground, flies into a tree... 
...and eats it.
7:23 PM  Fledgling on railing at 78th and Fifth Avenue.  Just a few blocks from the nest.  Pale Male and his mates often perch in that spot.
7:24 PM Fledgling on Cleopatra's needle scaffolding.
7:25 PM  Pale Male eats a Robin.

And an Addendum photo from Stella-
                           11:03 PM  Wasp and Cicada
Stella's account--
 As we were watching Palemale , I heard a cicada screaming in pain (yeah I've heard one before ) . And low and behold , about 10 feet away from me , was a wasp , that had attacked a cicada . The wasp had it on its back and had it pinned down and was pumping either paralyzing venom or its eggs into the belly of the cicada . I wish I had a better picture . This is the best I can do . But it was horrific . After the wasp did what it had to do , it left the cicada , perhaps eggs already implanted in its belly . We the hawk watchers left it under a bench . I will see what happens tomorrow after work . I hope that paralyzed cicada is still there tomorrow . I mean that wasp was dragging it around as it was injecting it with its rear  end . It was very exciting !

                                (Fascinating Cicada Hawks?  So I looked them up. DB)
"Sphecius speciosus, often simply referred to as the cicada killer or the cicada hawk, is a large digger wasp species. Cicada killers are large, solitary wasps in the family Crabronidae. The name may be applied to any species of crabronid which uses cicadas as prey, though in North America it is typically applied to a single species, S. speciosus. However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the eastern cicada killer. This species occurs in the eastern and midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them. In North America they are sometimes called sand hornets, although they are not hornets, which belong to the family Vespidae. Cicada killers exert a measure of natural control on cicada populations and thus may directly benefit the deciduous trees upon which their cicada prey feed."

Happy Hawking of Whatever Kind!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stella Hamilton- Saturday in the Park with Pale Male and His Progeny, Milkweed Ecosystems, Telescoping Insect Penises, and the Bats Move

7:00PM  Fledgling in a tree behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
7:00 PM  Fledgling on the roof of the Met.
7:01 PM   The back view.

7:03 PM  Back again with focus on possible prey.
7:28 PM  Second fledgling hunting.  (Look at that full crop!)
7:50 PM  Pale Male hunting on the Bridle Path.
8:04PM  Pale Male, the Monarch of Central Park, surveys the Bridle Path.

Many thanks to Stella for stalking Pale Male and Company!

Next up The World of Milkweed

According to Betty Jo of California, who told us her Milkweed growing experiences, she too has the same red beetles in her Milkweed in California and that Milkweed has it's own ecosystem.  So today I decided to look a little closer.

And there are those red beetles, well a pair of those beetles anyway copulating, again on the Milkweed.  Then I asked myself are they really copulating or ...are they doing something else.  I looked it up.  Yup that's copulation for certain kinds of insects-the male and female gentalia come into contact, put rather superficially.

First off there are ordinarily some courtship rituals.  The male may wiggle his antenna in a fetching manner or stroke and nibble  the females legs or maybe even vibrate his genitalia to stimulate her.  When she is receptive, the male's aedeagus  extends from his abdomen.  That's part one.  Part two the "penis" telescopes out of that and goes deep into the female's reproductive system where it deposits sperm.   
After photographing  the copulating beetles, I continued by investigation and BINGO, I found some eggs. Well, they look like possible eggs. Of course I can't be positive these are beetle eggs or even eggs at all.  Though I've been seeing pairs of red beetles copulating on the milkweed for some weeks so they could conceivably be red beetle eggs.

Then I see an ant with the eggs.  Ant eggs?  Unless ants tend eggs by biting them which seems unusual  I'd say this ant is predating the eggs.  

Yet another level of activity.

About then, I see a particularly offensive clump of crabgrass in the unmulched area.  I walk over and give it a big tug...and what do I see?

 In the middle of a line of ubiquitous Chinese Elm seedlings is TA DA, a Milkweed seedling.

 I glance up at the house and wonder about the little bat colony under the eaves.  For the last several nights I've been trying to see them fly out so I could count them.  Nothing has happened.  I stand here with a camera and nothing happens.  

Now I've watched several fly outs from attics of hundreds of bats who seemed to care less that people were watching but as it turns out some colonies care very much.  And mine was one of them.  They appear to have moved.  I read today that if you have a bat house, mine arrived today, you shouldn't look at it for more than a few seconds at a time or the bats might move.  Well these guys didn't even wait for the bat house stare.  Sigh.

Though later, at  8:45 PM, fly out time,   while I was watering, I glanced up and saw a couple of bats fly over the house, right to left.  It appears that the bats didn't exactly move, they've just shifted their exit to the other side of the house.  No, I did not stare at the flying bats.  Though they probably don't mind as much when you haven't seen them least I hope not.

We'll see what tomorrow always.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne