Often mistaken for a beetle, an Ailanthus Webworm Moth nectaring at a Bull Thistle provides a little splash of color among the surrounding dried grasses and wildflowers gone to seed. The boldly contrasting patterning and colors are thought to be aposematic, a warning that the moth is distasteful or toxic.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Three Monarchs were reported in Toronto on October 27th so this male is not exceptionally behind schedule on the long journey to its wintering grounds in Mexico. But October 28th is definitely the latest I have seen one in my area (south-central Hastings County, Ontario).
The butterfly was generally southbound but flying into the prevailing breeze, stopping frequently to fuel up at some late blooming Bull Thistles. As a rule I wouldn't bother with capturing such an easily identifiable insect but I thought it might be worth checking if it was tagged (no, it was not).
Thursday, October 16, 2014
It's mid-October and the end of odonate season is drawing nigh. As a rule the only species apt to be flying this late are Autumn Meadowhawks, with the odd White-faced Meadowhawk and Spotted Spreadwing for variety. There haven't been any hard frosts as yet and October 14th proved to be sunny with unseasonably warm temperatures near 25°C; a visit to a local field and marsh produced a few surprises.
West of Tweed (44.46667°, -77.31972°) is a dry field which supports short grasses, Staghorn Sumac, Sweetfern, Rubus spp and Hawkweeds, with a scattering of Eastern Red Cedars that are home to a small colony of Juniper Hairstreaks. At approporiate times of the year it's a good place to find odonates that like to forage far from water such as Four-spotted Skimmers, Halloween Pennants and Mosaic Darners (Aeshna spp). Of course the ubiquitous Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) are still present at this habitat, this is a male ...
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Perhaps post-equinoctial would be more appropriate, as this immature male Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) was encountered on September 24th, 2014 at the Tweed Fairgrounds (south-central Hastings County, Ontario).
Striking – arresting the attention and producing a vivid impression on the sight or the mind, attracting attention by reason of being unusual, extreme, or prominent, conspicuously attractive or impressive.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
East of Tweed, near a patch of wildflowers along Lakeview Lane (44.478429°, -77.301881°) – my third sighting of a Saffron-winged Meadowhawk this year (the other two were at Dry Lake, south of Marlbank). Sympetrum costiferum is larger – this individual measured 38 mm – and darker than the average Sympetrum apt to be encountered in our area, and it has a habit of perching on the ground.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
A hybrid between two very different looking species, the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and the Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides), the Amethyst Aster (Aster x amethystinus) exhibits characteristics of both parent plants which, not surprisingly, were abundant in the high and dry field where the Amethyst Asters were encountered.
The following groups of three photos illustrate the features of the Amethyst Aster, New England Aster and the Heath Aster respectively.