Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Biodiversity

Living together in harmony?

I wasn't sure how she was able to fly with her load of pollen.

ID still needed. Will post on BugGuide

Is it all because of the exotic and invasive and beautiful Verbena bonariensis?

The last week has seen unprecedented butterfly activity on the terrace, and the verbena is where they hang. A few years ago I designed a garden for a Park Slope rooftop where we planted New York ironweed (Vernonia novaboracensis) as a native alternative (although it is far too robust to be an aesthetic stand-in) for tall and slender V. bonariensis.

I think it's time to check on that roof garden again, and to ask whether insects have been attracted to those flowers. I'm not sure that the owner would notice. I sit and work close to the open sliding door, so that the flutterings outside have been a constant distraction/inspiration.

The Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae) are new this year.

Constantly on the move, but not as fast as the little skipper (Herspiriidae family), below, poised for take off. Apparently many skippers look similar, so another candidate for BugGuide submission.

The skipper, again.

Here was my cunning swallowtail butterfly trap: parsley, center stage.

..so it went for the fennel?

At last, where she belonged:

Oscar, the offspring; only surviving member of the family, in fact...

Now...

Grab a drink, a strong one.

Up on the farm...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Jumpin
' Je-hosaphat.

I had seen this...this...Thing, through the skylight from the apartment below, and thought it a curled up leaf.

No. It was a caterpillar, longer than my middle finger and fatter. And perfectly matched to the black cherry tomato's stem. Which was bare of leaves. A caterpillar that eats tomato leaves? I suspected a mothy heritage, not sure why...size, maybe. I get big moths in lily season. The tomato connection made it very easy to look up, of course.

Tobacco hornworm, I think: Manduca sexta (7 white stripes). Very similar to Tomato hornworm, which ought to be more common here.

Child of moth indeed. Carolina Sphinx Moth if it is the tobacco hornworm...And I've found pictures of them actually eating the tomatoes themselves. Wait! Yesterday I found a black cherry half eaten. Grrrrrrrrrrr

Once I got over the initial revulsion, I found it to be quite beautiful. But did it have to pick my favourite tomato? Still, I weighed tomatoes over chrysalis-observation and the possible chrysalis won. For now.

I'm already changing my mind...
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