Monday, October 4, 2021

A few more lively summer insects

As we wait for raptor season to ramp up again, we're continuing with our theme of summer insects. Butterflies and dragonflies were definitely the superstars of our summer, but some other insects also deserve credit for continuing to feed our curiosity.

We watched a generation of orange Asian Lady Beetles hatch and grow in a patch of wildflowers over the course of a few weeks. 

This beautiful little Long-Legged Fly is surely an inspiration for costume jewelry design.

This striking insect is a mystery. We found it perched prominently on a tall plant stalk out at Floyd Bennett Field, but do not know what it is. Perhaps a type of Robber Fly? If anyone out there can advise, please drop us an email.

We were captivated by its huge iridescent red-green eyes and hairy mustache.

We saw a lot of Differential Grasshoppers this summer, and find the black herringbone pattern on its back legs visually appealing.
Our most engaging encounters with insects were with Praying Mantises. This one is a Chinese Mantid and is apparently a female, based on its size (almost six inches in length). We watched her creep along the leaves of a milkweed plant.

She kept her eyes on us the whole time. Not intimidating at all, no.

We're not 100% certain, but this looks like a Carolina Mantis.

It hitched a ride on our backpack as we crossed a field of wildflowers.

This one measured about four inches long and was very active, making jerking motions as it crept across the bag. This video shows a mantis making similar moves as it stalks a cricket.

This one never took its eyes off us, and it kept flattening its abdomen from side to side, resembling a dead leaf flipping in the breeze. Note the Nosferatu shadow.

After a few minutes, the mantis leaped from the bag and tried to snatch a butterfly in the grass (but missed). In the grass, the predator's camouflage came into play and we had a hard time keeping our eyes on it. No doubt it was watching us, though.

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