Tag Archives: elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)

Insects of June

A brown-legged grass carrier (Isodontia auripes) scampering about in the dirt (20080601_05947)

I really wish that photo had turned out better than it did, for the brown-legged grass carrier (Isodontia auripes) is indeed a beautiful wasp.  Dark and iridescent, this indigo flyer is recognizable as the only member of its genus with the telltale brown legs.

It stood next to my foot when I snapped that picture, but it didn’t stay for long.  We regrettably found ourselves beneath a tree on a partly cloudy day, so I captured the image during the one opportunity I had to see it almost at rest.

A white checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens) slurping nectar from a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower (20080601_05980)

This white checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens) spent a great deal of time flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar.  In this case, upon a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), the butterfly paused only momentarily for me to snap a photo, then off it went into the sky in search of more breakfast.

An elm sawfly larva (Cimbex americana) munching away on a leaf (20080601_05986)

The larvae of the elm sawfly (Cimbex americana), like all sawflies, looks much like the caterpillar of a moth or butterfly, but the adult is nothing short of a wasp’s cousin.  Despite visual similarities though, sawflies use their “stingers” as ovipositors rather than as weapons.  Still, given the size of this child, I’d hate to see the mother who gave birth to it.  She must be a formidable creature indeed.

A group of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) gathering at the edge of a mud puddle (20080601_06170)

In a photo, that to me is death on six legs.  Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) attack en masse.  The first sting releases a pheromone that causes the rest of them to swarm and assault anything that moves (movement spurs them to sting).

I found this small group at the end of a trail of ants winding its way through the grass.  They huddled together near the edge of a mud puddle, doing what I can’t say.  And I didn’t get close enough to look.  One fire ant sting would be bad enough given my heightened allergy to such things, but the very nature of these beasts ensures that it wouldn’t stop at just one.

A seven-spotted ladybird beetle (a.k.a. ladybug; Coccinella septempunctata) climbing through grass covered by cottonwood debris (20080601_06218)

Finally, this seven-spotted ladybird beetle (a.k.a. ladybug; Coccinella septempunctata) found itself trying to navigate a sea of cottonwood debris that covered the ground for some distance.  As it tried to hunt, it grew increasingly covered with the tree’s fibrous droppings.  I hadn’t the heart to tell it, at least relative to its size, that miles and miles of this summer snow surrounded it on all sides.  Only by taking to wing could it hope to escape.

[all photos taken June 1 at White Rock Lake]