Along with many others we have a healthy patch of milkweed plants in the garden to do our bit for the protection of monarch butterflies. In the last few days the flowers have opened and while the monarchs have not been seen yet many other insects have taken notice and come around for the nectar.
This large fellow appeared and caught my eye. Handsome chap I said ti myself and took its portrait – then I realized why it looks familiar. This is the Squash Vine Borer Moth which is a major pest of Cucurbitae (squash, cucumbers, courgettes etc) and something we take great pains to remove from the Fritz Garden. Its larvae – caterpillars – bore into the stems of squash plants near ground level and then work upwards and eventually kill the host plant. Very hard to contend with and now it seems they are fuelled by milkweed nectar – which, of course, we also grow beside the Fritz Garden.
At the weekend this splendid and rather large (the wingspan is 40–50 mm) moth appeared on the deck and was being attacked by a Chipping Sparrow. So large is the moth that even if the sparrow had won the battle it would have not been able to eat it … which is perhaps why a friend came to assist. In moving to get the camera I disturbed the birds and they flew away leaving the moth still alive but less than happy with life. Later in the day it expired.
Entering the Arboretum there is a small apiary off to one side of the road which is now well hidden in long grasses and surrounding trees. Long ago in England I kept bees as a hobby and I always like to check out hives when I pass them. Peaceful places.
There are a lot of native bees – this one is the Common Eastern Bumble Bee – busy in the garden working the early fall flowers. I find this image quite striking with the bright golden rod flowers in the sun. No need to get out the macro lenses and tripod for a subject as large as this one.
A sunny morning brought a lot of different species of insects out onto the Golden Rod flowers. Here we have a Bombus impatiens (Common Eastern Bumble Bee) on the same cluster as a Eumenes fraternus (Fraternal Potter Wasp) and creeping in from top left a Augochloropsis metallica (Green Metallic Sweat Bee).