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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Things That Like Coreopsis

On a gloomy mid-morning not so long ago I was passing by the patch of coreopsis grandiflora and noticed how gaudy their gold-yellow petals looked in the half-light. I mean, they actually kind of hurt my eyes. Apparently their attraction to insects is not diminished and possibly enhanced in low light to certain species, based on the numbers and variety of species found settled on or nectaring at the flowers on this darkish day. Of the six species observed in about 10 minutes, five were flies. I saw no bees except one expired honeybee. Too cold for bees and butterflies maybe.

The tachinid fly, Peleteria sp., competed with a drone fly Eristalis tenax for space on what to them I suppose were the prime flowers. The larvae of the drone fly are known as rat-tailed maggots and feed in water fouled by organic matter; I'm sure this must be in the neighbors' yards not mine.

A red and white crambid moth, maybe Pyrausta volupialis, rested colorfully nearby. No one seems to know or is willing to tell what the larval habits of this species are. They are quite common here during summer, so maybe I will discover the answer to this pressing question.

The all too common green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata, is often found hanging out on flowers when its not laying eggs on dead or injured flesh somewhere in the neighbors' yards. The tiny but fancifully patterned fruit fly, Neotephritis finalis, is said to favor flowers of the daisy family. Not sure but maybe these are one of those species whose larvae burrow into the seeds of compositae such as sunflowers. There was a cactus fly, Copestylum mexicana, but I failed to photograph that one; here's one from last November. They lay their eggs in rotten cactus leaves or stems. Again, must be the neighbors!

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