Friday, June 5, 2015

June 4, 2015: Erv's Field Notes #80

Hanging fly, species unknown. 6/2/15 (Erv Klaas)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, Partly sunny, Wind from south, Temperature 77 degrees F.

I walked the same path as Sunday along the north shore. Swamp milkweed is beginning to bloom and a few common milkweeds have flower buds. I saw no odonates on the walk to the west side of the lake. The area between the edge of the lake and the paved path along the west shore has a good diversity of plants and I usually see a variety of insects here. Today was no exception. Two Cup Plants (Genus Silphium) were covered with red aphids. A pair of lady bug beetles were on the plant too. Lady bugs are predators on aphids; they will have good eating for a while. A photo of the plant, the aphids and lady bug can be seen on the Reflections web site today.

Wolf came by on his bicycle and we chatted for a few minutes. He told me that the musk thistles are starting to put up flower buds. Those of you who have helped control these invasive plants might want to start work. They are in the usual place, but the numbers have been reduced from previous years, thanks to you volunteers. I hope we can eventually eradicate these from the park.

As I started walking back to the parking lot, the sun came out and so did the odonates. I saw several Eastern Forktails, both male and female, and one Tule Bluet. I have been watching for an insect called a hanging fly, species unknown. I have seen this insect in past years and was rewarded today with an excellent photo opportunity. This insect is usually found in heavy vegetation and is difficult to photograph. This time, it was hanging on a plant out in the open. The hanging fly is in the family Mecoptera which has relatively few species in North America. It gets its name from its long forelegs which are hooked at the ends for hanging from vegetation. This one has clear wings with black veins and a white spot near the tip. The body is light tan in color and the eyes are bright green. I would never have known about this insect if I had not photographed one in the clutches of a damselfly that was devouring it. I showed the photo at a presentation at the annual Day of Insects at Reiman Gardens three years ago and asked the experts assembled there to identify if for me. One entomologist told me to consult Bug Guide on the internet and look in the family Mecoptera. I found pictures of several hanging flies but none matched this species exactly. So, my next challenge is to send this new photo to Bug Guide and ask for an identification. Playing naturalist is such fun.

Today, Jim Pease and I oriented our summer intern who will be coordinating the interpretive programs this summer. His name is John Yates; say hello to him if you seem at the park and please plan to attend some of the programs.

Erv Klaas

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