Monday, August 16, 2010

Dune bugs

North of Centennial Beach on Boundary Bay, trails lead through a varied landscape of dunes, marsh, and dry, dusty grasslands. This time of year, the gumweed is in full flower and fireweed is setting seed. On low ground, purple loosestrife (unfortunately) with its feet in the water competes with the cattails.

Fireweed fluff

In the heat of the afternoon, each flowering plant hosts its quota of feasting critters.

Copper butterfly, Lycaena helloides

At the side of the trail, bees and wasps were diving into holes in the sand. I tried to get a photo of one that was starting to dig from scratch, but in the brief time it took to focus the camera, it had dug itself in until only the tail end was above ground:

Going, going ...

A second later, not even a hint of yellow was visible. It had to come out again, so I waited, camera focused on the hole. Nothing, nothing, nothing; and then, from the other side of the clump of dried grass, six inches away, here it came in a burst, out and away before I could react. Sneaky bug!

The digger wasps are easily identified. They are fast flyers, zipping back and forth, never still; but their striped abdomens flash silvery-blue in the sunlight. They do back out of the same hole they entered by, at least. And they slowed down once they landed on a flower.

Digger wasp, Bembix, on gumweed. Love those green eyes! (There is a green leafhopper on the top petal, too.)

I think, however, that the tunneler was a bee, going by the fat yellow pollen bag it was carrying. Maybe one of these:

Bee on gumweed. Digger bee, Melissoides, possibly.

Another bee. Nice, new wings, four of them. Bee's knees.

Bee's nose? Notice the elbowed antennae.

Ladybugs tomorrow.

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