The goldenrods in the BugLady’s field are exuberant, with new, brilliant yellow flowers opening daily. Goldenrod blooms late, produces a bonanza of pollen (there’s not much nectar there), and is the embodiment of the insect enthusiast’s credo—“Looking for insects? Check the flowers.”
The wonder of ephemeral pools is that they are populated by animals that take this annual disappearing act in stride—animals that are prepared to dry up with the pond or to get out of Dodge (timing is everything), and therein lie many tales. An astonishing array of animals use ephemeral ponds as a place to drink, hunt, and breed, but an ephemeral pond is a challenging place to call home. The still, shallow water warms quickly (which encourages speedy metamorphoses) but contains little oxygen.
March flies generally live in wooded areas and are often found on flowers—adults of some species feed on nectar, pollen, and honeydew, but adults of other species don’t feed at all, and in either case, they are very short-lived. They’re considered important pollinators in orchards and for some species of irises and orchids. Their larvae, drab and primitive-looking, feed en masse on rotting organic material like leaves, wood, compost, and rich soil, and sometimes they damage plant roots.
Golden/Yellow Dung Flies are small, spiny flies. Appearance can vary geographically, seasonally, and because of a variety of other factors including larval food availability. The fly’s life is dung-centered. Mom and Dad meet there, mate there, lay eggs there, and take their meals there. They feed on other flies that are attracted to dung, and they also consume nectar (and, if times get tough, each other), but they leave man and beast alone. Its geographic range includes cooler, temperate regions throughout much of the world, and it probably arrived in North America from Europe early-on, with shipments of cattle.
The BugLady’s #3 child nailed it years ago when she proclaimed her mother an “Essoterrorist”—someone with a fondness for squirreling away obscure facts. Here are some of the Bug Facts that she’s come across while looking for something else.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English carol that was probably borrowed from the French and that was originally an acapella chant/call-and-response/children’s memory game. It first appeared in writing in 1780, and there were (and still are) many variations of it, though the words were more-or-less standardized when an official melody was finally written for it in 1909.
Here are some “x-flies” that she was able to track down—or stumble upon by accident. Once again, we celebrate the bugs that are neither big enough nor bad enough nor good enough nor flashy enough to inspire study–or even, in many cases, to have been assigned a common name.
The Giant Eastern Crane Fly is one of about 150 species in its family in North America (500 globally), and is one of the largest crane fly-ish species on the continent. It’s found from Minnesota east through southern Canada and south to North Carolina.
Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.
Thick-headed flies nectar on flowers, but Ms. Myopa has an ulterior motive for being there—she’s looking for hosts for her offspring. When she spies a potential host, she flies up, intercepts the incoming bee in flight, grabs it, and inserts a single egg between two of its abdominal segments.