The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Spirea SHINY

When you live in the country and you’re lucky enough to get beautiful weather in April/May, it means you have lots of spare time to stroll in the woods, admire nature and take photographs to share on your blog work to do.   For the last little while, every spare moment has been devoted to yard work (which is why I’ve been MIA…I had over 60 posts on my reader to catch up on!!!).  

Some of the plants we’ve installed over the five years we’ve lived here are really coming into their own.  We have a fondness for trees/shrubs with showy springtime flowers; cherries, crabapples, spirea…they provide beautiful colour after the dreary winter and, as an added bonus, they attract all kinds of six-legged creatures.   

We had a good soaker of a rain this morning (perfect – no need to water the new flower gardens!) but the sun started to peek out around noon.  I ventured out with my camera to see if any of our just-starting-to-blossom beauties had anything interesting for me. 

And they did: 

Pollen! OMNOMNOM

We have one large spirea whose branches hang heavy with tiny white blossoms in the spring; it’s one of our favourites.  The yellow-centered flowers are softly fragrant and attract all kinds of insects, from flies to bees to beetles.   Yay, beetles!  

This beetle (Cyrtophorus verrucosus: Cerambycidae) is a really interesting critter.  When I first spotted the lean black body between a few flowers I thought it was a large black ant…but then I noticed the long antennae peeking out between the petals and realized I had something even better (sorry, ant guys): a longhorn!  I turned the stem to get a better look… 

Cyrtophorus verrucosus

The rounded pronotum and distinctive pattern on the elytra, combined with their unique, swift style of movement are all terribly suggestive of an ant.  Indeed, these are considered ant-mimics, and I must say that they do a darned good job of it.  

 

The longhorn had a dinner guest feeding just as enthusiastically on pollen a mere inch or so away: 

Pollen! OMNOMNOM

This smaller beetle is also a mimic of sorts.  It belongs to the family Oedemeridae: the False Blister Beetles.  These beetles share the same soft wings, elongate shape and warning colouration indicative of chemical defenses found in many Blister Beetles.  While they do not “ooze” blister-inducing chemicals like the true blister beetles, their bodies do contain irritants that can harm human skin if they are squashed.   Interestingly, all known species of Oedemerids worldwide are obligate pollen feeders as adults. 

 

And lastly, a dose of familiar Cute: 

Pollen! OMNOMNOM

The lovely Coleomegilla maculata, the Pink Spotted Lady Beetle.  

So much SHINY in one shrub!

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8 responses to “Spirea SHINY

  1. mthew May 3, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    Handsome beetles.

  2. Ted C. MacRae May 4, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Lots of beetle goodness. I see an “An Inordinate Fondness” submission in its future!

  3. Amber Coakley May 6, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Oh, what wonderful photos! All of that pollen that your beetles are consuming has been kicking my butt this spring. I’m reduced to sitting inside and looking outside, longingly. I very much enjoyed this virtual tour of your garden’s beetles and blooms, especially since it didn’t leave me in an itchy-sneezy-snotty mess!

    • TGIQ May 7, 2010 at 1:21 PM

      Oh dear. Allergies can bite my butt sometimes too, but more often in late summer. I’ve found that my allergies have been MUCH better since moving to the country…weird, since there’s MORE pollen, not less.
      Either way, I’m glad you liked the photos. I’ve got a few more from the same bush up today, and probably get a few more before the blooming period is over 🙂

  4. Joy K. May 19, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    I would have been totally fooled by the ant mimic.

  5. Pingback: See ya, 2010… « Fall To Climb

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