Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blueberry Blossom Bugs

Relax insectile purists, I know nobody in this post is technically a "bug".
I just needed an appropriate "B" word.

Sunday morning was much calmer than windy Saturday and the blueberry bushes were alive with buzzing, flitting, sipping insects.
With no wind, the blueberry bushes were behaving themselves too instead of slam dancing all over the place and gyrating wildly in Saturday's steady 15 knot winds.
I think they were tired.

This swallowtail was the only real butterfly at the bushes. The fact that she's perfect with no bird nips or tattered edges makes me think she's newly emerged.
(I used the term "she" only because she's beautiful ... I look at antennae to sex moths, what about butterflies? Feel free to educate me.)
Swallowtails are the only butterfly I've seen flitting about so far in 2008.

I like the red racing stripes.

This fly was working the blossoms too. I expected it to be some small bee until I focused on it and realized it was a fly. I was hoping for one of those small orchard mason bees from my still plugged up bee houses I made last year.

It seems to me that a blueberry blossom is a bit of a challenge for insects. The deep bell shape tempts them for days before finally opening just a little. It's certainly not a petals thrown open, everyone is welcome sort of blossom like ... say a daisy or an orange blossom.

Lots of bees were buzzing about. None of them were true honey bees, although I did see some of them in the woods yesterday.

Basic brown moths (skippers?) were sipping, sometimes sharing a cluster of blossoms with a bee ... yes, I DID miss that shot. The sunlight was intense and almost overhead so most of my shots were mixes of stark shadow and bright light ... like this one.

The blueberry bushes are loaded this year with clusters of blossoms. Already green berries are appearing thanks to the work of the insect clan.

With all that production ahead of them, I figured the blueberries needed a snack, so I fertilized them with a liquid acid type fertilizer after I finished my photos.

Grab your spoon and fill your cereal bowl ... it won't be long now.


Doug Taron said...

Wonderful series of photos. We are just a bit too far north here to get zebra swallowtails, which is a shame because they're stunning. There is no easy way to sex most species of butterflies (barring the ones that show obviously sexual dimoprphism in their wing patterns). You can look for the claspers at the ends of the males' abdomens. Even there you sometimes need to gently squeeze the abdomen to see the claspers.

The subject of your last photo is a skipper rather than a moth. The wing pattern is rignt for a duskywing (genus Erynnis). The antennae also have the typical hooked club seen in many skippers.

dani813 said...

I've planted quite a few pawpaws so hopefully sometime those zebra's will make their way to my house to lay.

Jane said...

I saw Zebra Longwings in the Florida Keys recently and Skippers... this was beautiful though. Love the fly and bee photos as well. Thanks for posting about them. Jane

FloridaBoy said...

You have seen only swallowtails so far this year? Hmmm, that's perplexing. I have seen several species so far in Alachua and Marion Counties: zebra longwing, yellow sulphur, gulf fritillary, a satyr? and black swallowtail. In fact, I am seeing more species early this year than last year.

threecollie said...

The butterfly made me gasp with delight!! Beautiful!

robin andrea said...

That swallowtail is absolutely beautiful, fc. It does my wintry heart good to see it. I did get to see a red-tailed bee the other day. It's always grand when the spring critters show up, right on time!

Laura said...

I agree about the racing stripes also. I wonder who her sponsor is? ;)

Hope you get enough berries to freeze as well.

Alan said...

How do you check the sex of a butterfly? You lift their skirts, of course...

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the information.
Oops on the skipper, I thought they were a type of moth.

I have a bunch of the wild low growing pawpaws here. Maybe that's why I have so many SWT's.

Glad you enjoyed them. Spring is creeping in down here.

It may be from not looking. I'm not really an insect guy.
I did see a sulfur and a few black swallowtails today.

Got another one you'll like today.
Soon come.

I can't picture a red tail bee. I think we must not have them here.
Glad this post brought some spring your way.

Flyagra maybe.
There never seem to be any extras! Even on the bumper years. We just eat them by the handful.

You go first.

SophieMae said...

Hey! My word verification is bzhbug. 8-]

Super job capturing the flighty creatures! I think Doug is right about the skipper. Duskywing was my first thought, as well.

I hope we beat the critters to some blueberries this year. I've been filling in with those Chilean imports. 8-\

Sharon said...

Mmmm...I'm thinking pancakes...

Great pics :) If I lived where you do, I'd be in Heaven, photographically speaking.

Doug Taron said...

Skippers have been lumped with the butterflies (and many folks, including me, still treat them as butterflies). A lot of specialists now treat them as a third distinct group.

Floridacracker said...

Sophie and Doug,
I am beholding.
Somewhere a long time ago I got the idea that skippers were "skipper moths" and it stuck.

Plant blueberry bushes. They provide pancakes and insect photos!