At Maplewood Bog, in the clearing where we have our banding station set up, there is a large patch of bright yellow wildflowers. I think these are Woodland Sunflowers, Helianthus strumosus, a relative of the common giant sunflowers often planted in gardens or as crops for their seeds, although there are a few members of the genus Helianthus that look similar. They are lovely, bright, cheerful flowers that add quite a bit of colour to the meadows and hillsides in the region. In most areas I just see them in small patches, but at Maplewood, and more specifically at the banding spot, they cover a broad expanse of the grassy clearing.
In between my net checks (we alternate, I do one then Dan does the next, which gives us time to band any birds we collect or have a snack if we need), I’ve taken to poking around the meadow to see what’s new. A couple of visits ago I found this spider tucked in one of the flowers. I’m still not sure of the species, although it appeared to be a male because of the large appendages out front (pedipalps, used in mating). There was another on a nearby flower. Intrigued, I started checking other flowers to see if I could find more of the spiders. I didn’t, but I turned up some other interesting critters.
I decided to see just how many species of invertebrate I could find on the sunflowers, either using the plants for food or simply as substrate for resting. Here’s a collection of most of the other stuff I found during our last two visits (I missed a few species that were too quick for the camera). I haven’t identified many of the species, because there were a lot of them, but have included IDs for a few.
There’s a lot more happening out there than you might first suspect! Take a moment to slow down and look more closely, you might be surprised at what you find.
11 thoughts on “Small-scale biodiversity”
That’s an amazing set of photographs!
It’s a little bit of laziness, but mostly frustration at inadequate insect field guides, but I couldn’t begin to identify so many species. It’s wonderful to see (almost) all of their names.
Also, I’m a sucker for spiderlings. :o)
Thanks, Jain! The best field for insects is by far and away the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, by Eric Eaton and Kenn Kaufman. I use this for nearly all my insect identification, and even if it doesn’t have the exact species I’m looking at, it usually has a representative of the genus. If I want to confirm a likely candidate, or look up possible sister species, I usually go to BugGuide.net, which is a fabulous online resource for insects and other invertebrates – it includes a section where you can submit your own photos for expert identification.
Thanks for the tips! I haven’t purchased a guide in many years so wasn’t familiar with the Kaufman Guide – I’ll get it. I’ve popped into BugGuide.net from time to time, but this time, I actually bookmarked it!
I went through a period where I had to identify everything, sometimes succeeded, sometimes frustrated, then I got complacent about the whole thing, I guess. It’s time to get excited again.
Way cool. I really liked the composition in the aphid, spider and N. Bluet photos. I’m surprised you didn’t find a crab spider. I have been finding some of them lately in my black eyed susans. Isn’t nature grand!
The first time I found a sweat bee I had trouble identifying it because I assumed it was a fly, like all the other bee-like creatures I had been looking at. This summer I have been amazed at the diversity that one can find in a small garden, and even on the same plant.
And I should add – some of these photos are really good.
Evidently the woodland sunflower is host to a large part of the insect world. Amazing thread of photos to represent your findings.
Amazing shots and a wonderful topic! Thanks for sharing.
I don’t know the names of anywhere near the bugs you do…what FUN!
What a great collection of photos! I’ve become fascinated with insects and other invertebrates in this last year. I was just on a birding field trip today (I know, middle of the summer!), and found myself looking down more than up.
Hi there! I just want to give a huge thumbs up for the great
data you have right here on this post. I will probably be coming back to your blog for more soon.