Garden Watch

Top Photo: Goldenrod in bloom at Wander Away.

Visiting a garden at this time of year can be very rewarding. Goldenrod likes to wait until September or later to bloom, and like boneset mentioned in the previous post, has tiny blossoms which attract big crowds.

Small white flowers of late boneset.
Small yellow flowers of goldenrod.

Butterflies, bees and wasps are too busy sucking up nectar to pay much attention to naturalists who stare at them while they refuel. If you’re patient, and you’re taking pictures, you may end up with some very interesting photographs.

Small and striking red-banded hairstreak.
Slightly larger gray hairstreak.

Beneficial in that they provision their pottery-like nests with caterpillars and or sawfly larvae, adult potter wasps sip nectar for their own nourishment.

Potter wasp seeking nectar.

And here’s why they call them potter wasps.

Not yet sealed potter wasp nest.
Potter wasp subduing a looper caterpillar.

Another solitary wasp, Scolia dubia are parasites of scarab beetles such as June beetles and Japanese beetles. The females dig into the soil where the beetle larvae, or grubs, are active, sting the larvae then lay eggs on them. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae consume the paralyzed beetle grubs, pupate and emerge as adult wasps.

Solitary wasp Scolia dubia sampling goldenrod’s sweet offerings.

Sand wasps like the one below typically use flies, or in this case, stink bugs to provision their subterranean nests.

Sand wasp taking a break from foraging for stink bugs to sip nectar.
Honey bee.

While standing near a patch of goldenrod in Wander Away in Catch the Wind I noticed a jerky, twitching movement in the foliage of the plant. Something was struggling within the jumble of stems, flowers and leaves of the goldenrod in front of me. Perhaps a lynx spider had captured a wasp or butterfly.

No, it wasn’t a wasp or a butterfly, or even a spider. It was, though, something trying to escape, not from a predator but from its own skin. It was a bush katydid, attempting to pull itself free of it’s nymphal skin during its final molt into adulthood.

Bush katydid pulling itself out of its old nymphal skin.
Abdomen and wings are free.

About 40 minutes later…

Wings, legs and body stretch, fill, and harden.

And about 4.5 hours later, I rediscovered the insect within inches of it’s original location as a full adult katydid.

An adult bush katydid.

Always keep an eye out for green anoles and ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Green anole juvenile caught stretched out on muscadine grape leaf.
Young male ruby-throated hummingbird approaches salvia flower for its nectar.

And the mockingbird watches it all.

Northern mockingbird surveying the scene.

Visit a garden today.

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