June 14, 2011

A Study in Pink

This poor evening primrose is desperate for a pollinator, so the very edges of the petals have turned pink. I've never seen this before. Normally the flower opens up at dusk, a moth visits, and the flower shrivels as it begins the task of setting seed. Each day a bud or two further along the stalk opens up to entice more moths.
Evening Primrose
The flower on the left is the "king flower" of our stand of evening primrose, and it's 3 days old! The moths don't seem to be aware of this rich nectar source yet. Subsequent blooms won't go unrequited though, as the sphinx moth in the picture below will be sure to tell friends about The Backyard.
Nessus Sphinx Moth on Soapwort
Bee flies (Bombylius major) are parasitoids, following leafcutter bees back to their nest and laying eggs there. Not only does the bee fly larva eat the provisions gathered by the leafcutter mother, it also eats the leafcutter bee egg or larva.
Honey bee on 'Rose Queen' sage which, unlike 'Mainacht', adorns the bees' heads with pollen.
Bumble Bee on 'Biokovo' Hardy Geranium
Orange Belted Bumble Bee on Buckeye Tree carrying orange-belted pollen!
Ultragreen Sweat Bee on Jupiter's Beard (Catmint in the bkgd)
Morrison's Bumble Bee Sleeping on Late Lilac
Focusing on honeybees for a moment, they will forage on most of these flowers but not all. The exceptions are those with nectaries too deep for the honeybee proboscis: the evening primrose and the lilac. There's a good shot showing the long tongue of a White Lined Sphinx Moth in the What's Blooming web album (in the Gallery) but I've got a great one archived. I'll post it later when I'm not at work ;)

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