Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guess who's back?

My neighborhood Ambush Bug returned yet again, and this time I caught her in the act of ambushing a tiny wasp, the type that grows up in galls on local broadleaf trees and shrubs. After watching her feast for a while, my son and I decided to test her senses. She didn't respond to aggressive approaches of our hands nor the camera, so we hypothesized that she had poor vision. Always slow moving, and sometimes in the same spot on a flower for days, she appeared to be flightless. However, on this day we prodded her with a piece of dried grass and she took flight. She even hovered for a while, although not quite as proficiently as the hover flies.
On the way home from our last Farmers Market at dusk, I discovered that the Oak Treehoppers had returned (bottom photo). Here is a view of an adult female and a few of her progeny. I'll be obsessed with these for as long as they hang around and will share some natural history lore about them. The adults come in two entirely different color schemes so I'll be on the lookout for the other one. The young have prominent stripes and look like little prisoners. Note how the adult body shape enables them to be mistaken for next year's leaf buds. It takes a lot of close up staring to spot these critters. They don't harm the trees, so enjoy them if you have them on your oaks.

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