Monday, September 21, 2009

Burying Beetle

Yesterday I found a dead grey squirrel by the roadside. It was close to the roadway so I decided to move it into the ditch expecting in due course for a turkey vulture or crow to find it and clean it up. So I grabbed a stick and flung the carcass into the ditch and it uncovered a pair of unusual beetles. I didn't have a camera so couldn't take their pictures for better identification, and I am not inclined to kill them so was not able to identify them better that two black beetles with 4 orange spots. My Bugs of Ontario book identifies them as a species of Nicrophorus or burying beetles with interesting behaviours. Unusual for a beetle they actually pair up and take care of their young. Typically when they find a smaller carcass such as a mouse they will bury to hide it from competitors. This squirrel carcass was obviously far too big for these two 15 mm sized beetles and the roadside shoulder gravel was likely too hard to bury in.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Many Bees sighted in the Golden Rod

Goldenrod is now in full bloom and we have several patches of it in the abandoned field west of our house. One particular patch was very busy with what looked like the common honey bee [Apis mellifera]. This is probably the first time that I have definitively identified this bee on this woodlot -- I usually find bumble bees -- and the first time that I have seen so many, so active in one patch. This patch must have had one insect per plant, it was a busy place and time.

A Caterpillar eating a Milkweed Leaf

Today I did a visit and inspection of all the Canker resistant butternut trees in the woodlot. All but 2 are found and accounted for. Of the remaining 8, two are dead. The cause does not appear to be the disease but rather trampling by wildlife, or poor soil conditions. All will be reported on their respective blogs. On my way out I came across this very interesting looking caterpillar. I immediately associated it with the monarch butterfly which also eats milkweed, however it turns out that the monarch feeds on the milkweed when it is still young, and besides I have not seen any monarch butterflies around.

It turns out to be the Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar [Euchaetes egle], the caterpillar for the Tussock Moth a.k.a the Milkweed Tiger Moth. This caterpillar feeds on older milkweed plants and indeed this is approaching the end of our vigourous growing season.