Rollers, nibblers, and spit

by Sandy Garland

This Red Osier Dogwood is probably over 15 years old.

This Red Osier Dogwood is probably over 15 years old.

I remember when this Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) shrub was just a tiny thing at the edge of the path. It sent out roots – one of them sticking out so that we’d trip over it every now and then. We almost dug it out, but eventually it got so big we just walked around it and the roots were no longer a problem. Now it’s more than 3 metres across and teeming with life.

Red Osier Dogwoods are great if you like wildlife. The flat flower clusters attract butterflies and other pollinators, and in late summer and fall, birds come to eat the berries. According to our Planting the urban landscape: Selected trees and shrubs for birds, “Ninety species of birds have been recorded using C. stolonifera as a food source.” Some are Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Hermit and Wood Thrushes, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Cardinal, and Evening and Pine Grosbeaks.

Banasa stink bug (Banasa dimidiate) - These attractive green stinkbugs are very common and seem to be especially so on Red-osier Dogwoods.  (photo and caption by Christine Hanrahan)

Banasa stink bug (Banasa dimidiate) – These attractive green stinkbugs are very common and seem to be especially so on Red-osier Dogwoods. (photo and caption by Christine Hanrahan)

Illinois Wildflowers says, “The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract many kinds of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies…. Other insects feed on the leaves, suck plant juices, or bore through the wood. These species include the caterpillars of many moths, long-horned beetles (Cerambycidae), leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), aphids (Aphididae), plant bugs (Miridae), and others.

“Because of their higher than average fat content, the white drupes of Red-Osier Dogwood are an important food source of wood ducks, songbirds, and upland gamebirds. The White-Footed Mouse and other small rodents also eat the drupes. The White-Tailed Deer and Cottontail Rabbit browse on the leaves and woody stems; beavers also use the stems as a food source and as construction material for their dams and lodges. To a minor extent, the fallen leaves are eaten by some turtles, including Chelydra serpentina (Snapping Turtle).”

White web under a leaf.

White web under a leaf.

As I looked closely at our large dogwood, I could see many rolled leaves, where an insect had wrapped itself for protection. Under one leaf, a delicate white web held a more dense cocoon of some kind in its centre (left).

Schizura concinna on Red-osier Dogwood (photo by Christine Hanrahan)

Schizura concinna on Red-osier Dogwood (photo by Christine Hanrahan)

This colourful caterpillar (right), the larva of a Notodontid moth, feeds on dogwood. And the Calligrapher Beetle further below makes a meal of the leaves.

Although I didn’t see any spittlebugs, the shrub was covered with white globs of foam, betraying their presence.

Dogwood spittlebug (Clastoptera proteus) - In early summer, dogwood shrubs, mostly Red-osier Dogwoods, are festooned with little white foamy globs. This is the "spittle" of the Dogwood Spittlebug nymph. Eventually the adults (inset) appear and can be seen quite commonly on the shrubs.

Dogwood spittlebug (Clastoptera proteus) – In early summer, dogwood shrubs, mostly Red-osier Dogwoods, are festooned with little white foamy globs. This is the “spittle” of the Dogwood Spittlebug nymph. Eventually the adults (inset) appear and can be seen quite commonly on the shrubs.

Dogwood calligrapher (Calligrapha philadelphica) on Red-osier Dogwood (photo by Christine Hanrahan)

Dogwood calligrapher (Calligrapha philadelphica) on Red-osier Dogwood (photo by Christine Hanrahan)

At the FWG, Song Sparrows have nested in our dogwoods and we’ve seen Gray Catbirds carrying the white berries to their nestlings.

In fall, the leaves fall off dogwoods early, leaving bright red branches. The field to the north of our Old Woodlot looks like it’s on fire on sunny days when the red dogwood stems glow against golden aspen leaves.

Even in winter, the red of the osiers brightens dull days.

Photographed in the Old Woodlot, the remains of the seedheads were coated in ice, as were the red stems. (photo by Christine Hanrahan)

Photographed in the Old Woodlot in January, the remains of the seedheads are coated in ice, as are the red stems (photo by Christine Hanrahan).


Mid-September at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

by Christine Hanrahan

Where DOES the time go? Here it is, past the mid-way point in September, on the downslide to October. That autumn feeling is really seeping in with the colour changes in the leaves, the business of birds fuelling up for journeys south, and bees nectaring like mad on the dwindling supply of flowers.

Having been away for a week, I stopped in at the garden to see what was what this week. Many of the goldenrods are fluffy with seeds now, but the various asters are in bloom still. Those goldenrods still in flower were very busy with locust borers (long-horned beetles), bumble bees, honey bees, sweat bees, etc. However, it is apparent that insect numbers are dwindling and for those of us who are addicted to looking for them, we will soon be in the midst of withdrawal, waiting until spring for the first few to appear again. Except for those few critters that can sometimes be seen in winter, such as winter fireflies, winter craneflies, and a few more hardy insects.

Twenty-spotted lady beetle

Twenty-spotted lady beetle

A new insect for our list is the twenty-spotted lady beetle, very tiny at around 1.5 to 3 mm. It is unusual in being a fungus and mildew feeder. In my own garden, I have found a large number of these lady beetles in all stages, larva, pupa, and adult, on mildewed leaves of sunflowers. At first glance they look like very tiny versions of the fourteen-spotted lady beetle. They are common, but so tiny and with a habit of hiding under leaves, that they can be tough to find. I bet they’ve been at the FWG for years but we’ve just not noticed them before.

Dogwood calligraphic beetles are still present, as they have been all summer. These belong to the Chrysomelid family, a group that contains some of the most beautifully coloured and intricately patterned beetles. As their name suggests, they are closely affiliated with dogwoods, in particular red-osier dogwoods. There are many species within the Ottawa region, but at the FWG we’ve found only two.

While on the topic of dogwoods, they are a good shrub for attracting many insects, not necessarily in the destructive sense. Many creatures seem to like hiding amongst the flowers, and now the fruit, or on or under the leaves. If you look carefully, you can sometimes find tiny clusters of stinkbug eggs, probably those of the Banasa stinkbug which is so commonly found amidst the fruit. Nannyberries too are good shrubs to explore for insects, and alders are even better!

I watched a large mixed group of chipping sparrows and american goldfinches having a grand time eating the seeds of coneflowers in the butterfly meadow. Elsewhere they were picking off thistle seeds and the seeds of lamb’s-quarters. Speaking of food… does it seem to you that there are fewer walnuts on the black walnut trees this year? Which can mean a tougher time for the squirrels who depend on them.

A red-tailed hawk is once again at the garden. Every autumn for years we’ve seen this species appear and hang around the general vicinity of the garden all winter long. The farm fields provide good hunting, and the trees, shelter. White-breasted nuthatches, chickadees, robins, catbirds, an eastern phoebe, mallards, and crows were some of the other birds encountered in my short visit.

The September blog is here:, and contains four pages of photos thus far, including some lovely shots by Diane and Sandy. Please check it out.

Mid-August at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

by Christine Hanrahan

Mid-afternoon at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, August 14th. A sunny and pleasant afternoon to be looking for things to photograph for the PBase Blog. My first sighting was of the Sphex ichneumoneus, the great golden digger as it is sometimes called, nectaring on swamp milkweed. Its counterpart, the great black digger, S. pensylvanicus, is often more numerous, but both are large and impressive.

Other insects found include numerous Acutalis treehoppers, one of our smallest treehoppers, tiny little green and black insects, usually found on the stems of plants such as goldenrod. The large (for a planthopper), Acanalonia bivittata, with its distinctive shape, is easily recognized. It is bright green, with reddish eyes and a dark stripe down its back. It also comes in a vivid pink form, something I’m still hoping to see. The large swathe of Monarda fistulosa, our beautiful lilac-coloured native species, in the butterfly meadow, is alive with bees and other nectaring insects, including a hummingbird moth and a very tattered silver-spotted skipper. The big Bicyrtes sand wasp, smaller mud daubing wasps, sweat bees, leaf-cutter bees, ragweed beetles, goldenrod leaf beetles, the predatory larvae of green lacewings sometimes called aphid lions because of their propensity for feasting on aphids, pennsylvania leatherwings (soldier beetles), tiny ragweed fruit flies, and a host of other insects can be found on the abundant flowering plants around the site.

In addition to the skipper, lots of cabbage whites, a few white admirals, and several newly emerged ringlets, the second generation in our area, were also seen.

Birds are vocal and active, with broods of young following the adults, calling and begging for food. House wrens are especially vocal these days, as are catbirds and song sparrows. Robins, baltimore orioles, chipping sparrows, chickadees, cardinals, cedar waxwings, and many other birds are very noticeable right now. While our tree swallows have long gone, barn swallows can still be found swooping over the garden. Shrubs such as elderberry and tartarian honeysuckle are providing much food for birds. Diane and I watched a cedar waxwing guzzling down the fruit of the honeysuckle as if he couldn’t get enough!

It is fascinating to see how the vegetation changes from year to year. New plants appear in odd spots, others vanish. All the annuals found last year in the old field’s rototilled section, have gone, but in their place scores of the biennial evening primrose (native plant), some big scotch (or bull) thistles, much beloved by insects, especially bees, and a variety of other species. The native wild cucumber plant is sending its sprays of creamy white flowers up in various spots including in the old field area.

There are lots of photos on the August 2013 Blog here:

Be sure to visit so you can also see the great photos submitted by Diane and France, who photographed a gorgeous giant swallowtail at the garden on August 15.

August 6 at the FWG

Ruby-throated hummingbird nectaring at cardinal flowers

Ruby-throated hummingbird nectaring at cardinal flowers

by Christine Hanrahan

You can certainly see that summer is pushing on. Goldenrod is blooming, New England asters are starting to flower, evening primroses are finishing up, Solanum is fruiting, many grasses are in seed – food for wildlife is abundant. Families of catbirds, red-eyed vireos, and song sparrows are vocal and noticeable.

A green heron was calling from somewhere near the pond, a lone red-winged blackbird male flew into the cattails there, a couple of tree swallows flew over, but probably not ones who nested at the FWG, for they left a month or so ago. Chipping sparrows were seed feeding along Green Heron Way, and American goldfinches were busy with nesting duties.

In the Backyard Garden, two ruby-throated hummingbirds were zipping around the garden, chasing each other, occasionally stopping to rest in the big willow above the pond, and taking turns to nip down to the cardinal flowers to feed. They were too quick for me and I managed only one not very good shot.

Ragweed beetles (Zygogramma suturalis)

Ragweed beetles (Zygogramma suturalis)

I spent some time looking for ragweed beetles, as this is the time to find them. I’ve learned that I have more luck finding them on Bidens, if there is any growing near ragweed, as there is at the garden. I found about 8 of the elegantly black and white leaf beetles. This species was exported to Russian as a biocontrol agent for our native ragweed, which is a big problem there. Or, I should say, a potential biocontrol agent, because at least so far, they have not been a great success. Perhaps in time… And perhaps we’d have far more ragweed than we have already, if these beetles were not exerting some control. And then there is the ragweed fly whose larvae eat the seeds of ragweed, and no doubt also help control ragweed to some extent.

A hummingbird moth was nectaring on phlox in the Backyard Garden, at the same time as the real hummingbirds were feeding on cardinal flowers. Other insects of late summer include the big Sphecids, in the genus Sphex, both of which can be seen anywhere there are flowers. I took another look for the Enchenopa treehoppers (which look like thorns on branches) and found one adult, but lots of egg masses, so next summer there should be lots more of these neat little guys. I generally find them in good numbers in early July, and if you want to see them, there are photos on the July Blog and in the Treehopper gallery.

Tortoise beetle (Charidotella)

Tortoise beetle (Charidotella)

I also spent a lot of time on my hands and knees looking for tortoise beetles and found one which I initially thought was a golden tortoise beetle. However, now I am not sure, and it may be another species in the same genus. Nearby was a little larva of the same species. These critters fascinate me as they are such an odd shape, and like many other beetles, they make full use of their poop to protect themselves. In their case, they create a shield that they carry over their body, rather like an umbrella. This larva was black, unlike all others I’ve seen which have been bright green.

Speaking of bright green, I found a gorgeous little treefrog sitting on a walnut tree leaf by the pond.

Lots more photos on the blog

FWG in early July 2013

by Christine Hanrahan

Despite coolish temperatures and gray skies, there was much to see at the garden today.

House wrens busy feeding young

House wrens busy feeding young

Birds are VERY active feeding their young. I watched a pair of house wrens constantly carrying food to their nest. Meanwhile, a male common yellowthroat sounded the alert when I inadvertently walked past his nest site. He was joined by catbirds, a red-eyed vireo, one of the house wrens, song sparrows (one carrying food), all agitated by my presence and scolding loudly. The kestrel pair were flying above the new woods, calling and swooping as if deeply alarmed. I walked over to their nest box, but could see nothing around that site, so not sure what they were upset about. The great crested flycatchers continue to hang around near the pond.

Butterflies were, not surprisingly, few on such a day, but I did see half a dozen european skippers, a few cabbage whites, and the first hairstreak of the year (at least for me) – a banded hairstreak.

Chrysomelid beetle case made of poop

Chrysomelid beetle case made of poop

I made it my mission to go on a poop patrol today. No, not for doggie scat, but for insects who use their excrement in one way or another. Larvae of Chrysomelid beetles in the Cryptocephalinae subfamily make their larval cases of their own poop, and as they keep adding to it, it gets bigger and bigger. Still with Chrysomelid beetles, many larvae in this family pile their frass (poop) on their backs, perhaps to protect them from predators, perhaps to provide cover, or both. And I was successful… you can see shots of both of these on the July photo blog.

Also found: many asian ladybeetles ready to chow down on the aphids on so many plants. A tiny bronze Buprestid beetle, lots of juvenile grasshoppers, syrphid flies, bald-faced hornets nectaring on figwort (which they seem to especially like), and so on and so on…

The June photo blog has a wealth of recently added photos from Diane and Barry. Some stunning shots in there, so please check it out.

Also one night late in June, Barry, Diane and I went mothing at the garden. Not many moths, but some interesting other insects. Photos of some of these are on the PBase gallery, and moth photos taken by Diane will be posted to our moth gallery over the coming week.

By the way, we have passed the ONE MILLION mark, our FWG site having been viewed 1,015,801 times as of today.

June 4, 2013 at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

by Christine Hanrahan

Tuesday afternoon at the garden, June 4th, and a lovely day to be wandering through the FWG.

Mating pair of silvery blue butterflies

Mating pair of silvery blue butterflies

Silvery blue butterflies were fluttering around in many locations, including this mating pair near the new woods. Common ringlets were indeed common that day but hard to photograph as they land low down in the vegetation much of the time. One posed briefly, however. Cabbage whites and a couple of hobomok skippers completed the butterflies I saw.

Still on insects, bumble bees were busy around the lupines, as were a few honey bees. I think the red squirrel, resident in one of the big roosting boxes, depleted the honey bee population over the winter. They made the mistake of deciding to make a hive in the box, and this spring when Barry and I checked it, the honeycomb was largely eaten and the bees were absent, likely also eaten by the red squirrel (these mammals will eat just about anything).

Mason bees are using the AAFC bee boxes, and a number of other bee species (Halictids, Andrenids, etc.) were actively feeding. Spittle bugs are mostly noted by the presence of their “spittle” on plants. These are actually protective coverings for the nymphs, keeping them moist, as well as hiding them from predators. There can be anywhere from one to four or more little nymphs inside these damp cases. Eventually the cases harden (they are a mix of fluid and a waxy secretion from the nymphs) and the nymphs have to create new ones.

Dame’s rocket is abundant. Yes it is not native, yes it can be invasive, but for the moment, the beauty of the flowers when seen en masse is stunning. This member of the mustard family is a common garden plant in Europe and is well liked here by pollinators. Claudia notes that she recalls it being planted in the BYG long ago to attract butterflies, but it was then weeded out, probably because it produces so many seeds. She thinks that may be where the plants we now see all over the garden, originally came from.

Various flies, including syrphids (hover flies), tachinids, root maggot flies, and so on, were found throughout. Not only are many syrphids excellent and important pollinators, but their larvae are formidable predators of aphids. A bit later in the season, carefully check out colonies of aphids and look for the flat larvae of syrphids working their way through them.

Green lacewing

Green lacewing

Also found, a couple of green lacewings. These beautiful insects in the order Neuroptera (Nerve-winged insects) are almost ethereal in appearance, with their golden eyes and see-through lacy wings, which of course, give rise to the common name. But their larvae are fierce predators of aphids, sawfly larvae and other insects. I have seen a single green lacewing larva work its way quickly through a colony of rose sawfly larvae, which are twice or three times its size!

All the usual birds are busy breeding now: yellow warblers, chickadees, cardinals, robins, house finches, etc. The phoebe is doing well, and I was happy to find a house wren nest. A lone cedar waxwing was near the birch grove, while a turkey vulture circled the garden overhead. The kestrels are still in their usual spot, so all is right with the world.

Isabelle (far left) and Renate (far right) showing members of the Ottawa Horticultural Society around the Backyard Garden

Isabelle (left) showing members of the Ottawa Horticultural Society around the Backyard Garden

On Tuesday evening, members of the Ottawa Horticultural Society came to the garden for a walk. There were two tours, ably led by Sandy (the first one) and Renate (the second one). Backyard Garden (BYG) habitat manager, Isabelle, gave Renate’s group a good intro to the BYG. Isabelle and I then hung around the BYG, keeping the centre open, and directing any stragglers onward to the tour.

Just as I was about to send this email, I rec’d one from Diane with some excellent photos which I will post to the blog very soon. There is a great shot of the pretty California calligrapha beetle and a golden image of the lovely syrphid Spaerophoria, a small, elongate fly, which is not at all easy to photograph. I’ve tried in other areas of Ottawa recently, but none of my photos comes close to the one you’ll see from Diane. There is also a very neat photo of a little scentless plant bug, new for our list of insects.

See more photos on the June Blog

Mid-May 2013 at the FWG

by Christine Hanrahan

It was a blustery, coolish day at the garden, but as always, there was much to see.

Starting with birds, the kestrels were flying around the barn, a green heron flew to the pond, red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows, chickadees, yellow warblers, song sparrows, one lone white-crowned sparrow, both hairy and downy woodpeckers were all found. Robins were bathing in the Backyard Garden pond (they love the dripping water between the top and bottom ponds); goldfinches, cardinals, a lone raven, and crows were also around. South of the ash woods, a couple of barn swallows were swooping low across the field.

New arrivals since my last visit are baltimore orioles, whose song and calls could be heard across the garden and the Arboretum, and warbling vireos. The phoebe continues with nesting duties, but I didn’t see or hear the red-breasted nuthatches and hope that their second nesting attempt is successful.

The garden is awash with blossoms at the moment, from the creamy perfection of hawthorn, wild plum and choke cherry, to the pink and white of apple blossoms and the soft hues of lilacs. Too bad these are all so ephemeral because it is quite the sight to see.

nomada bee

nomada bee

Naturally, these blossoms attract insects, particularly bees and flies. Also attractive to insects are the dandelions, that much-hated plant (although not by me and I’m sure not by anyone who appreciates the little creatures that so widely use it as a nectar source). A tiny Nomada bee was so still on a dandelion that I finally got a few photos (at left). Normally, these bees fly fast, non-stop just above the surface of the land, seeking the nests of Andrenid bees on which they are parasitic. They are often called cuckoo bees for this reason.

Also on dandelions were Andrenids, a few hover flies and the vividly coloured little native lady beetle, Coleomagilla maculata. Despite their small size and prettiness, these beetles are fierce predators. I’ve seen them tearing open spider sacs to get at the spiderlings, and I’ve also seen them walking behind the Galerucella beetles (used for biocontrol of purple loosestrife), eating their freshly laid eggs! And of course, they eat a variety of other critters. Their larvae are predatory on aphids, as so many lady beetle larvae are.

The cold weather of recent days brought frost one night and the tender tops of the dog-strangling vine were all damaged, at least those in the open were. But, sadly, this does nothing to stop their rapid growth.

More photos on the FWG PBase galleries, in the May blog

Discovering Plant Galls Formed by Insects

by Christine Hanrahan

Gall: “An abnormal growth of plant tissue produced by a stimulus external to the plant itself.”  – S.W. Frost in Insect Life

Galls are common formations on plants, usually caused by insects (but sometimes by a fungus or some other non-insect life form). Galls can form on roots, stems and twigs, leaves, flowerheads and buds. They can be smooth, rough, hairy, spongy, hard, soft, spiked. They can be round, oval, spindle-shaped, and even look like flowers. They may not look like any of these. They may, instead, look like a black spot, a leaf blister, or may be mistaken for clusters of insect eggs. Their colour often changes. Goldenrod galls are green when the plant is living, but when the plant dies back, the galls take on the brown hue of the stem, although before they do so, they may also appear burgundy or bronzed. Some galls are vividly red, others may be two-toned, or patterned, but most are, not surprisingly, green or brown. Some appear singly, others in clusters. And one plant may have several different types of galls, made by insects of different families. Some galls are strikingly noticeable, while others are found only by dint of looking. Just to confuse things, not all swellings on plants are galls, as some are caused by leaf miners and stem borers.

If you want to identify the gall-makers, you need to know your plants, because many of the insects are very host-specific. And not only that, but most insects will only form galls on certain parts of the plants. Thus, you may find a plant with galls on the leaves and on the stem or twigs, but different species will be responsible! Furthermore, the location is an important aid to sorting out who might have made the gall. So take your notebook and make notes when you want to identify possible gall-makers. Some plants seem to attract a variety of gall-making insects. Chief among these are willows (Salix), oaks (Quercus), and goldenrod (Solidago).

Gall-making insects may be flies (e.g., midges, other Cecidomyiids, and fruit flies), bugs (e.g., aphids, Phylloxera), sawflies, wasps (mostly Cynipidae), moths (mostly Tortricidae), nematodes, and even beetles. Members of the Arachnidae also get into the act, with gall mites (Eriophyidae) responsible for many galls. However, the gall midges in the family Cecidomyiidae, sub-family Cecidomyiinae, and Cynipid wasps, are probably the most common gall-makers. The photos below show some of the different types of galls, made by various insects.

One way to determine who has made a gall is to bring the galls home and rear them, which means putting them in an enclosed container (a jar with a mesh cover, for example) and see what emerges. However, be warned, that many parasites attack gall larvae and so what comes out may not be the original gall inhabitant. This just makes it all the more fascinating. Because most gall-making insects are tiny and rarely seen, rearing them may be your only chance to see them. In nature, the galls are far more obvious than the insects.

Why do galls form, and for what purpose? The short answer is that galls are protective coverings for the egg and later the larva, inside. They also provide food for the developing larva. Larvae either spend the winter in their galls or, in a number of cases, emerge, drop to the ground and pupate in the soil.

Galls are formed when still-growing plant tissue is invaded by an insect (or fungus). The plant grows around the foreign object to form the shapes we know as galls.

When galls are very noticeable, as with the grape leaf galls that distort the leaves, it is thought that the plants themselves are diseased or damaged, but they are not. In most cases, galls do no major damage to the plants.

They do, however, in some cases, provide food for other wildlife. The goldenrod galls are best known in this regard, for many of us have observed woodpeckers or chickadees pecking away at the galls to extract the juicy larva inside. Squirrels are also fans of goldenrod galls. If you look at a stand of goldenrod and examine the abundant galls, you’ll see that many have been preyed on. Sometimes it can be difficult to find an unopened goldenrod gall.

And finally, galls are not just fascinating formations there to intrigue us. Over the centuries they have been used by humans as medicine, food, and for the production of dyes and inks.

Summer is when galls are most abundant and diverse. Because so many galls are formed on leaves, once winter comes, they disappear. However, winter is the best time to look for the bigger galls on twigs and stems. Just check out shrub willows, goldenrods, ash trees and oak trees and see what you find.

This is just a brief introduction to galls, which I have been fascinated with for years. I hope you will also find them interesting and begin your own study of them.

For dozens more photos of a variety of galls, you might want to check out my Insect Galls photo gallery:

Christine’s Walks: Insects found in the 3rd week of October at FWG

The end of summer signals also the end of insect life – or does it?

While summer is the peak season for insect activity, warmish days in late October can be surprisingly good for finding a variety of bugs, bees, beetles, flies and other creatures, including spiders. Over a period of two days I spent a few hours seeing what I might find at two locations, one being the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (20 October), the second (22 October) a much larger site near the Ottawa River in the east end of Ottawa. During this second foray, I was with two friends and three pairs of eyes made searching even better.

Not all insects nectar on flowers, but many do, so I always make a beeline, so to speak, for any clump of still blooming flowers. While at first glance it may seem there is nothing feeding, it is quite surprising what eventually reveals itself the more one looks. I also check under leaves, particularly if the temperature is cool, and I look amongst leaf litter, on rocks, the sides of buildings, wooden fence posts, and a variety of other places, all of which can, with patience, yield various insects and spiders at this time of year.

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