Summertime-part two-listen to the buzz

Bumblebees-are just bumblebees right? NOT! Who knew there were so many different species? It has been amazing to watch and try to document what I have seen so far. 4 species out of approximately 15 varieties in central Ontario. I’m still on the lookout for more!

There has been a lot of activity on the catnip, who knew that not only did cats get a great buzz out of it but our little fuzzy flying friends as well! From what I can see these amazing little creatures called Bumblebees have been our main pollinators so far this year. When we think of bees, we often picture honey bees, and honey bees aren’t even a native species. In fact they were an agricultural import, brought to North America for honey production and crop pollination.

There are over 400 species of bees in Ontario. Bumblebees, Carpenter bees, Leaf cutter bees, Mining bees, Sweat bees…whew! Then there is the wasps…a whole other story! And Spiders. Our dock spiders are quite active but the one in the bird feeder box has had an excellent time wrapping Gypsy Moth caterpillars up for snacking on afterwards! I can’t possibly ask her to move out! The other cool spider nest is in my green beans. I think they are Nursery web spiders. Never seen the Mom but the babies form a tight ball until they see motion and scatter in all directions-survival technique no doubt. OK, enough crawlies for now, dock spider babies haven’t been born yet;) I’m still looking for that perfect dew/rain dropped spiderweb, actually, any spider web only found one orb weaver so far, 30′ up in a tree…:(

I was hoping for a trove of butterflies this year but they have been fluttering by, but not stopping much. I’ve given chase to the swallowtails, a few Monarchs have stopped, but it is maybe too soon! I did discover a real beauty of a Monarch caterpillar in the garden. Hope to get to watch it cocoon and emerge! A few new moths have flitted by including the incredible Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth, an apt description for once;)

To be honest, I haven’t wandered far from home. The onslaught of deer flies is enough to drive one mad, running back, waving your hands and arms over your head in a vain attempt not to have chunks of flesh removed. They bite through my pants and shirt, they are simply the most wicked bug ever. I have the welts to prove it;) I have been yearning to check out the swamp and see any new dragonflies emerging but even driving by, the truck is surrounded by these blood thirty winged devils;) Down at the waters edge the blue damselflies have been entertaining. They sit on my legs as I wait for the Caspian Tern to come flying around, too close for me to photograph them:) I did paddle out into the lake one day chasing the Blue Dashers-they are stunning landing on blooming water plants, and in the goldenrod and blackberry bushes small golden dragonflies are emerging. Autumn Meadowhawks I think:)

That buzz of nature-even if you don’t love bugs, you have to marvel at their amazing beauty and variety, and the fact when we’re all gone, some of them will most likely rule the earth;) ha! Probably the Cicadas. The Northern Dog Day Cicadas are emerging, associated with the dog days of Summer;) Only the males sing, making a loud high pitched song similar to a circular saw and lasting about 15 seconds. Their singing is associated with hot summer days and the arrival of Sirius in the night sky someone pointed out, astronomer bugs;) It starts out soft, gets louder and then fades away. They crawl out of the ground as mature nymphs then climb up tree trunks, split open and emerge as long winged, bug eyed adults that will live for only a few weeks. Unlike the black and orange periodical cicadas, which emerge in overwhelming numbers every 13 or 17 years, the larger, greenish dog-day cicadas are with us every summer. Males do the droning , which is generated by a pair of ribbed membranes at the base of the cicada’s hollow abdomen. Muscles distort these tymbals to make pulses of sound that resonate in the insect’s abdomen. The vibrations from a single cicada can reach 100 decibels and be heard a quarter-mile away….Love that sound, talk about buzz, well buzz saw anyway;)

Guess I have bugged you enough, lots more to come. We’ve done the bees, next maybe the birds…who knows what we may learn;) Stay tuned amigos, and if you don’t like birds, well…ha! You know;)

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