My interest in flies (order Diptera) has been increasing the past few years. Here are a few I've come across recently. All pictures were taken with my iPhone in and around Minneapolis in June.
Bug Guide there are five North American species. P. trivittatus is the only species found in MN pictured at Bug Guide. They are regular summer inhabitants around our compost bin.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
A number of years ago I was witness to an odd animal sight; two small painted turtles, Chrysemys picta basking on a floating snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. Nobody really believed me.
But this week I saw a similar sight (and with witnesses). This time it was one painted turtle with one snapping turtle. The snapper was mostly submerged with just its snout out of the water. The painted turtle was floating just above it. Occasionally the painted turtle took a good nibble at the snapper. We all expected retaliation from the snapping turtle, but none came. The snapper barely registered the bite.
So what was happening? We entertained a few ideas before coming up with a plausible explanation. We speculated that the painted turtle was eating leeches off the snapper. Later I looked for some information on this behavior. I found a few references to this behavior, including a scholarly article from the journal Canadian Field Naturalist. I wonder if this is a rare interaction, or maybe only occurs in certain types of water bodies. Or maybe it's a common, but rarely observed because snapping turtles spend so much of their lives at the bottom of lakes and pond.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Polyphemus Moth - Antheraea polyphemus
Both moths happen to feature a character from Greek mythology in their names. Nessus was a centaur whose trickery led to the death of Heracles. Polyphemus was a cyclops from the Odyssey. There's a tradition of naming moths the larger North American Silkworm moths after figures from Greek mythology. A few sphinx moths have myth inspired name, but not consistently so. If anything, many N. American sphinx moths are named after their caterpillar's host plant.