Mosquitoes – What Do they Eat?

We all know that the mosquitoes quest for food ends when they find a source of blood. But did you know that mosquitoes suck nectar too and only the females take a blood meal?

I didn’t know the bit about the nectar.  It does make me think about how many millions of mosquitoes my flowers have fed over the years…

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If only mosquitoes sucked fat instead of blood.
– Unknown –

The mosquito is the state bird of New Jersey.
– Andy Warhol –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Quest.

Flowers and Bugs in Arizona

I haven’t felt much like blogging for a few months now. Have I been Blue? Yes, some days. Other days, I’ve been seeing Red (but that is a post for another day). Very occasionally, I’m Mellow Yellow – (white wine can do that). For the past week or so I’ve been kind of Grey though – I’ve got a cold.

I perked up, however, when I saw the Photo Challenge this week was Color (or Colour).

So, what to choose for this theme?

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In the creepy crawly department, I found a scorpion in the bathroom the other day, but in my hurry to remove it from the house, I didn’t get a photo. I did, however, find this very handsome Large Milkweed Bug a few days later – well, actually I found lots of them and they were very absorbed with mating, so I had to wait for some time to take a picture that wouldn’t compromise their right to privacy. They are mostly black bugs, but they have bold red accents.

Any colour – so long as it’s black.
– Henry Ford –

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A recent visit to Goldfield Ghost Town offered many opportunities to photograph the bright yellow flowers, blue skies and Superstition Mountains, all while eating ice cream in a freshly baked waffle cone. Life just doesn’t get any better than that.

Another bug – a honey bee in a the bright pink flowers of – well something. Arizona plants and insects are still pretty much a mystery to me.

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Things happen fast here in the Sonoran Desert. These Wolfberries are already a deep red orange in colour and I expect they will be a welcome food source for something very soon. I have read that the berries are people food too, but Arizona berries are pretty much a mystery to me too.

When the water of a place is bad it is safest to drink none that has not been filtered through either the berry of a grape, or else a tub of malt. These are the most reliable filters yet invented.
– Samuel Butler –

Monarch Butterfly in Alberta

Solitary – being alone; without others. As in, “I’m going out to the garden to do some weeding. Who wants to come out and help me?”

I only found one Monarch Butterfly in my garden this year, and it is the only Monarch I’ve ever seen in my part of the world.

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Ideas don’t stay in some minds very long because they don’t like solitary confinement.
– Unknown –

The Flutter Files
Species: Danaus plexippus
Name: Monarch Butterfly
Migration: In Summer from as far north as Southern Canada to wintering grounds in Southern California or Mexico.
Date Seen: July 6, 2012
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

To see other blogger’s photos for this week, head over to Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary.

Monarch Butterflies Arrive in Alberta

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Four photos in one to show you the movement of butterfy wings. But not just any butterfly – this is a Monarch Butterfly! And it is in my garden! (Forgive all the exclamation marks, but I don’t think I have ever seen a Monarch butterfly in my yard before).

My very own Monarch Butterfly spent much of the morning  sucking up the nectar of the Pink Painted Daisies.

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There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.
– Richard Buckminster Fuller –

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Women, don’t get a tattoo. That butterfly looks great on your breast when you’re twenty or thirty, but when you get to seventy, it stretches into a condor.
– Billy Elmer –

A list of ‘Remarkable Feats of Navigation’ has to include the migration of these Monarch Butterflies.

Perhaps the Monarch in my yard found some milkweed and laid eggs, or maybe it was one of the many monarch butterflies that flew all the way from Canada to a winter home in Mexico – a journey of several thousand miles. Once in Mexico, Monarchs breed, lay eggs and eventually die. Three or four more generations of Monarchs come and go before another Monarch reaches Canada the following summer.

The Flutter Files
Scientific Name: Danaus plexippus
Alias: Monarch Butterfly
Migration: In Summer from as far north as Southern Canada to wintering grounds in Southern California or Mexico.
Date Seen: July 6, 2012
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Movement.

Spider Web full of Seeds

The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.
– Edwin Way Teal

It looks a bit like snow storm today, but the big ‘flakes’ that are blowing in the wind are the fluffy seeds of something – probably a type of poplar tree.

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Weighing almost nothing, these seeds dance in the wind until finally they get caught in something. Today, the something was a spider’s web. I can just imagine how unhappy the spider was when it discovered that it no longer had a nearly invisible trap system.

Are some kinds of spiders herbivores? I don’t know, but if they are, then this web will look like a buffet to them.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is Today.

Bumble Bee Fuddled – A Bee Story

Hippie Cahier has declared that the word for this week is Befuddled. I’m filled with bewilderment – I didn’t know words could be given a whole week of their own! Is this WordPress approved?! But Hippie, though sometimes befuddled herself, seems determined that this word deserves special recognition.

I looked through my photo archive to find a picture to illustrate befuddled. What I found won’t surprise you – four photos and a little story that I call ‘Bee Fuddled’. You might want to read this out loud, with a bit of a buzz in your voice:

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Bzzzz – I hate it when our Queen gets food cravings. Today she wants Pickle Nectar.

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Bzzzz – And there are those demanding larvae – all they want is Burger Pollen.

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Bzzzz – It gets so confusing – was I here yesterday? Is this Pickle Nectar or Burger Pollen?

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Bzzz – I’ll be so glad when I can retire this fall. Buzzley Bee says we don’t retire – all us worker bees just die – but that can’t be right, can it?! I think we need a Worker Bee Union….

Bumble Bee – Pencil Sketches

honey-beeThis morning it is drearily overcast. A bit of fresh snow fell overnight, and the temperature is -5C. The Car Guy left for work at 7:30 AM, and was back home at 8:42 AM, having only got half way to the office before deciding to come home – traffic on the freeway was at a near standstill.

It is not like the roads were bad, but it is a fact of life in our part of the world that a fresh snow throws all the Worker Bees into a tailspin.

Worker Bees – that sparked the idea for this blog post. To start it off, I thought I would show you a poem and the attached art work from a Grade 1 class assignment I did. I didn’t make up the poem. I just had to copy it into my scribbler, then draw an appropriate illustration.

I don’t remember what I knew about bees at the time. Maybe we learned something about them in class. My drawing skills had taken me beyond stick figures, and I could sketch a reasonable impression of a bee, but I didn’t seem to know how to draw a dress.

For the next many years, I didn’t pay much attention to what a bee really looks like. Then I bought a macro lens for The Car Guy’s camera.  It opened up a whole new world of little things made to look big!

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This is the Hunt’s Bumble Bee (Latin Name: Bombus huntii). It is a beautiful fuzzy yellow critter with a rusty orange stripe and black rear end!

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My drawing skills have not progressed much since Grade 1, but my computer skills have. Photoshop Elements let me turn the bee photo into a drawing.

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But, I wanted to colour my drawing, and with just a bit more computer wizardry, my bee was transformed!

Enough fun for today! I have to get ready to make a trip to the big city to visit the dentist. Hope all the worker bees are safely in their hives when it is time for me to navigate the freeway!

Alfalfa Looper Moth – “I Can Hear You!”

My Autumn Joy Sedum has had a very good year. Liberated from the shade of an aggressive Lilac, and planted in a sunny location, it has responded with a wonderful show of fall flowers. How nice of it to bring a spot of colour to a flower bed full of plants that went to seed weeks ago!

The insects have been visiting the Sedum so often that I have to think it will soon run out of pollen and nectar! In addition to the bees and hoverflies, several species of moths have been attracted to the vivid pink flowers. I was keen to take pictures of another type of insect, so I closed in on the moth with my new macro lens. The moth did not budge. It was not alarmed by my presence – until I clicked the shutter.

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In the blink of an eye, the moth was gone. I had a nice photo of the sedum, but no moth. So I tried again.

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With my second shot I caught a glimpse of the moth before it exited, stage right.

My third attempt wasn’t all that successful either.

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For my fourth attempt, I backed away a bit, but the moth could still hear the shutter.

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For my last shot, I backed away a bit more, and this time I got the moth, a bee and a hoverfly, all in motion – an Insect Trifecta!