Friday, September 29, 2017

One Thing Leads to Another.....

(This post is an expansion on a Facebook post I made yesterday morning.  I wanted to share the photos I took - and add a few more comments.)

I love how one thing leads to another.....

I saw an Eastern Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) out back nectaring on the Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea), so I got my camera and ran outside.

It flew over to a camellia where it sat for a while to bask, allowing me to get fairly close and to take multiple photos.

Then it flew back to the sage and continued nectaring, allowing me to take more photos.

After the swallowtail flew off, I noticed a battered Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) basking, so I took photos of it, following as it,, 

SHE lifted off and laid an egg or two on the Corky-Stemmed Passionvine (Passiflora suberosa) nearby.  It amazes me that this ragged female could still fly - and that she still had the energy to locate passionvine and lay eggs!  It makes me think that, perhaps, occasionally handling butterflies won't overly handicap their success after all.

Movement by the milkweed caught my eye and I was able to get a few shots (although I don't know if they turned out) of a syrphid fly laying eggs near aphids on the milkweed.  Note:  This was the best of the shots I took. It isn't great, but I thought you might enjoy it anyway, and it does serve to keep the narrative going!

More movement made me notice a little tufted titmouse hunting about 20 feet away, so I snagged a couple photos, one of which wasn't too bad....

Still more movement, this time nearby, helped me notice some sort of odd little wasp hunting on the swamp milkweed...  When I downloaded the photos, I realized that this isn't a wasp at all, but rather some sort of fly.  BugGuide has helped me determine that this is a female syrphid fly in the genus Xylota.  These syrphid flies eat pollen from the surface of leaves as adults, which I think you can actually see her doing in the above photo!  The larvae feed on sap runs.  So, my bare eyes said a small wasp, hunting, but increased magnification and more research revealed a fly, eating pollen!

Close to this unusual little syrphid fly was a Milkweed Assassin Bug nymph (Zelus longipes) that may have actually been hunting - attempting to catch the little syrphid fly unawares.

As an added pleasure, I found all of this activity while I was enjoying the sweet fragrance of the blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum) that are scraggly but blooming, in pots on the back patio!

A fun few minutes. Fifteen minutes, to be exact.  And all from the relative privacy of my back patio, while in bare feet and still in pajamas!

As I wrote the original post when I got back inside, I  looked out back onto the patio again and saw a male towhee perched proudly on the top of the statue there! Sadly, I  wasn't able to get a picture of him, but I did get to enjoy watching him from my spot in the recliner!

Gardening for wildlife is like having a nature preserve right outside my back door!


Corner Gardener Sue said...

I am glad you got the photos to post with it! What an awesome way to spend 15 minutes!

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Well that was a fun adventure. Nice to know I'm not the only one dashing about the garden in pajamas trying to get a butterfly photo. ;-)

Gaia Gardener: said...

Haha! No, you're not. And it's nice to know I'm not the only one doing it, too!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Sue, it made my entire day sparkle!