Predators and Prey, Hatteras, NC and Perrysburg, Ohio, October 2013

This fall the Ocean-side waves were too threatening for sailing or swimming all week long. Hatteras is aptly called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Hatteras Ocean Wave

Hatteras Ocean Wave

Even the skies seem appropriately threatening.

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

When the sun shone it all looked much more inviting.

Ocean Side Sun and Waves

Ocean Side Sun and Waves

A small shark washed up on the beach.

Beached Shark

Beached Shark

Marcus found that it had died from a fish lure lodged deep in its throat.



By day, you see many small holes in the sand.



By night the crab occupants come out, but they are still not easy to catch.

Night time crab

Night time crab

Caught Crab

Caught Crab

I wonder who eats them?

In the sand dunes this moth has evolved great camouflage to blend with the colors to avoid being eaten.

Butterfly needing ID?

Butterfly needing ID?

While this wild flower needs all the color it can muster to attract scarce pollinators.

Red Flower in Dunes - Needs ID?

Red Flower in Dunes – Needs ID?

On the sound side of the dunes (where we windsurf) the scene seems more peaceful,

Sound-Side Sunset

Sound-Side Sunset

This luminous green fly is a good contender for the Best Dressed Bug contest.

Green Fly

Green Fly

I don’t know if it is eaten by this magnificent large spider we found living in the reeds.

Black and Yellow Argiope

Black and Yellow Argiope

The female “Black and Yellow Argiope” (thanks Carol for ID) is 1 ½” (35 mm) long. She (not Carol!) eats her web (plus contents I presume) every night, and next morning spins a new one.

This one cormorant stopped for preening and was close enough for a photo.



Many, many thousands of these birds stream by every day, low over the water, sometimes diving en masse for fish, while flying south to some unknown destination which must be unimaginably crowded if they all congregate there together. (I now read that deep diving cormorants, mergansers and loons are dying in Lakes Michigan and Huron from a Type E botulism which they may be eating from the lake bottom)

On the water were kite boards and windsurfers.  Jim’s amazing GoPro waterproof, high resolution cameras attached to the end of my windsurf boom reveal some of the tensions and subtleties involved when you try to connect with foot straps and harness, while riding the wind and the waves.  At first it seems the foot straps are never where my feet are, but then later I find the straps actually are perfectly located.  The harness is another matter: hooking in and out should be effortless, provided it’s properly adjusted – and you must always avoid accidentally hooking in when you should be out!

Footstraps and Harness (not stabilized).

The road back to Ohio goes past Kitty Hawk, where you can appropriately pay homage to the Wright brothers by taking hang glide lessons – very tempting. It would be good to try it one day with a GoPro.

Hang Glide_8696

Back home in Perrysburg this bug landed on my Prodigy board and showed me it has evolved a pretty good helmet to protect at least its shoulders from being eaten.  I see now it is called a “Wheel bug” (Arilus cristatus). Very good to have in your garden as it devours aphids and others who’d eat your flowers and vegetables. But beware, while not easily provoked, it does have a very nasty bite. It injects digestive enzymes into its prey so it can more easily suck out the nutritious innards. Perhaps that’s what makes it so painful for humans.

Buzz Saw Head Bug

Wheel Bug

And in the honey bees’ hive I found some of these tiny ants on the comb. Presumably their giant stinger gives them some protection from the much larger bees.

Small Ant with Big Stinger

Small Ant with Big Stinger

Insex In My Garden

Last year the mint was covered with this odd grey-faced fly. But I never saw them mate and this year I have not seen a single one of them.

Grey Faced Fly Nov 24 981

This year we have many, many smelly Shield Bugs. They seem more interested in coming into the house than in actually mating:

Shield Bugs_8362

But last year these two Cabbage White butterflies, and their friends, might have been responsible for the many Whites we see this year. (Mathematically there are 8 orientations for coupling but this one seems to be the most impersonal of all)

Mr n Mrs Cabbage White

This summer we had some steamy heat and the Red bugs had fun.


2 Red Bugs_6843


2 Red Contact_7172

The common yellow Wing Stem attracts others:

2 on Wingstem q 7817

And even the slugs down on the ground were coyly eyeing each other.


For grace, the slender bright blue Dragonflies are the best. I’m unable to photograph them together in the air but fortunately they sometimes stop. I wonder which is which sex? I guess this might even be coupling position #9?

2 Blue Dragonflies_2474

I’ve no idea what is happening here but the common Milkweed which I grew for the Monarchs (who never arrived this year) seems to be responsible.

Milk Weed Bugs_4088

Last year there were many, many bugs like this (Box Elders?), and this year none.

I don’t have any names for this elegant pair is but I do hope they laid some eggs.

2 Yellow Stripes_6995

There were a few more than the usual number of Japanese Beetles this year, but when they found a seemingly innocuous native plant called New Jersey Tea they went crazy:

2 Japanese Beetles_7240

One on one was not enough:

Many Japanese Beetles_7244

By the time they were finished they’d eaten all the leaves of the plant too.

My all-time favorite is the very elegant small Leaf Hopper that I find only on the native Jewel Weed plant. Yesterday I saw these two having fun. I did not have time to properly focus before they hopped off together.

2 Leaf Hoppers_8393

And then there are the Walking Stick insects.  I saw these live ones were in a small display case in a park in Charlotte, NC.

Stick Insects_8328

But the strangest of all are my bee Drones. Both my bee hives have a normal population of about 10% male drones who live all summer long supposedly doing nothing but eating the nectar and pollen brought in by the female workers.  The Drones do fly to some unknown “Drone Congregation Place” where they supposedly wait for a new virgin queen to arrive from another hive. If the Drones ‘get lucky’, they die in the mating process.  Why my hives should support Drones for the benefit of another hive is beyond me, other than that it is good for the bee species as a whole.  Either way, as cold winter approaches, with no more surplus food, the females kick out the, to them, worthless drones from the hive.  Here are two photos I took this week of smaller females ejecting (by biting?) the larger Drones (note their large, stingless rounded tails. If you ever see one you can pick him up in your fingers with no risk of being stung). The Drones reluctantly accept the situation and leave without offering too much resistance.

2 on one Drone_8377

2 on 2 Drones_8386


The video link below shows two female worker bees ejecting male drones almost twice their size.  My vote of approval goes to Wanda who sticks to the drone, even after he gets into the hive entrance for a short moment. She wrestles him out and down the entrance ramp and eventually dumps him under the hive.

And so the various insect species survive the freezing winter, whether as egg or larva, in a compact hive or underground.  It would be good to be able to see and photograph the new generation of each emerging next spring.

Spring Surprises 2013

This year it was a long, slow spring with a late snow surprising the snowdrops who’d thought it was safe to come up by 21st. Feb.

Snowdrop surviving a late snowfall

Snowdrop surviving a late snowfall

Three days earlier it had been warm enough to lift the lid of my one remaining beehive and see if they were still alive – there they were with stingers extended:

5223 Bee stingers on frame

They were furious that their warm winter blanket had been too soon removed. I was actually delighted (well, almost) to receive my first sting of the season.  Here is the stinger after I pulled it out, under a 50x magnifier:5224 stinger 50x

A month later the crocus was open and the bees started to work, peacefully this time.5574 bee on crocus

Now in the first week of May they are arriving with many different pollen colors:5894 Bees landing wi pollen

They only collect from one flower type at a time. This allows each flower species to be properly pollinated, but to the bee the pollen is only protein and so the pollen is all randomly mixed when they store it in their honeycomb.

Ants and spiders try to enter the hive but few succeed.  The marking on this spider (who was inside the hive)6027 Black Spider

reminds me of the ‘face’ on one I found last year:Skull spider wi dead bee

This white spider appeared to have overcome the bee and was dragging it away.

The Maumee river rose and fell with the rains and the walleye fisherfolk returned:5564 Walleye Fishermen

Obviously pregnant geese5538 Pregnant goose

laid up to 6 eggs at a time, but once again at least 5 eggs were randomly dropped and abandoned around the shore of the small island, surprisingly ignored by birds and  squirrels.5650 Goose plus one lost egg

I’m now told the geese often do this for no apparent reason!

Today (5/8) I saw different families of one, three and twelve goslings each.6118 Two goose famiilies 3 n 12

But on the grass there was a simple pile of down telling of some sinister happening5865 lost down


There is one lively squirrel who repeatedly travels a treetop route every day – too quick to catch in mid-air with my cell phone camera but I keep trying.  Keith at kindly morphed my two separate photos, taken seconds apart, into one ‘before and after’, showing the proper gap between the trees – see below:flying sqrl 001

He then offered me the choice of two images of what I saw, or what I thought I saw. They’re both so great I can’t decide between them:

flying sqrl 002
flying sqrl 002
It also eyes the bird feeder and approaches, claw over claw, on the window screening. Alice the cat enthousiastically watches that.5888 Squirrel at feeder

The magnificent Red Trillium is open.

5937 Red Trillium green leaf

Its leaf (Later: I think it is the ‘Sepal’ rather than the leaf) sometimes carries a beautiful blaze of red also

6038 Red veined green leaf T

The flower reportedly has a carrion odor that attracts flies for pollination.

6022 fly on Trillium

To me it smelt more like baked ham. Does anyone know the odor of Ontario’s white Trillium?

For years I’ve pulled dandelions in the front garden.5920 misc dandelion roots

Looking closely I now see where a new leaf and flower stem can readily grow from where the old root snapped during the previous weeding.5921 new D on old root

Ohio State Extension says you need to pull 4 to 6 inches (100 to 150 mm) of root when weeding this alien invasive. They say that even then it might still regrow, in which case they simply recommend pulling it again. Good thing I’m retired and have nothing else to do!

A little further along Water Street, beside the X-Country ski trail, are two “Vernal Pools”6045 Vernal Pool

In Spring they fill with water and teem with life, then dry up in the summer. Not being connected to the river, they have no fish and so a very different ecosystem can flourish. Scooping a small net immediately catches many strange, to me, creatures. They are so small that water to them is viscous and they swim with peculiar, jerking motions. Hard to persuade them to keep still for my simple 50x magnifier photos. The scale is in mm with the bug immediately below being about 2 mm dia.6065 Pregnant Bug

I presume the one below is a just hatched egg from the one above.

Later: Naturalist, Karen S. kindly id’d the one above as a Water Flea, and one of its progony below.

6072 Baby bug

She says the next two are Mosquito larvae.

6070 Bug no 46067 Bug no 36066 Bug no 2

And the last Spring Surprise shows a good reason to keep your meadow grass short and your feet shod, though lacking a rattle tail I doubt it was dangerous. At about 30 inches (750 mm) long I could not immediately identify it on-line. Any suggestions?

Later: Nat S. says it’s a Garter Snake, paler than usual because it might be preparing to shed it’s skin – Thanks Nat.6091 2pt5 ft snake

6097 Snake Head

This one was more anxious to hide in the shrubbery than to attempt to eat the photographer.