As you may remember from my post early this month, we were fortunate to have a monarch mama visit the backyard in May, and lay eggs on our native milkweed plants. The eggs hatched, developed into little caterpillars that ate, and ate, and ate up the milkweed leaves. Eventually there were only fifteen caterpillars that made it to fifth instar. One by one they left the milkweed plants, crawling out of the pots in which the plants are growing. I kept searching for the caterpilla
One afternoon last week I heard the familiar chatter, screech and trills of Bewick Wrens. But there were also some other cheeping sounds. I then saw a fluffy bird perched on a garden pole on the patio. Because of the fluffiness I didn't recognize what kind of bird it was. It sort of looked like a wren. Meanwhile an adult Bewick Wren foraged in the potted blueberry shrubs. The adult flew up to the fluffy one and fed it something in its beak. That's when I realized that the flu
Another first in our garden - a California Bumble Bee Bombus californicus ! I was doing my usual thing, walking around the garden with my camera, when I spotted the bee. It spent a long time visiting flower heads on the De La Mina verbena. With the two yellow stripes it closely resembles the Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee. BUT, unlike the Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee, it has black hairs on its face and on top of its head. Each time I observe a species not seen before in our garden it is
And what a fuzzy one this leaf cutter megachile bee is. It is collecting pollen from the face of a Serpentine Sunflower Helianthus bolanderi. These are such fascinating bees with their hairy bellies. They transport pollen on these hairs. This must be a male leaf cutter bee because its face is covered with dense, pale hair, and the tip of its abdomen is blunt. You know when you have leaf cutter bees in your garden because they cut uniform circular holes along the edges of flow
At first glance doesn't this look like an exotic flower with a lot of petals? That's what I thought at first until I realized that the Cabbage White Pieris rapae was feeding on the nectar. The butterfly was there for several minutes, and fluttered in the breeze along with the flower. I have no idea what the flowers are, because a former tenant must have planted it in the plant bed. I think it is a bulb plant that blooms in the early summer.
My what big eyes you have! This is a male California Carpenter Bee Xylocopa californica. There is some pollen caught on its hairs. In urban gardens carpenter bees visit wisteria for pollen and nectar, and salvia and lavender for nectar. We don't grow wisteria, but we have both lavender and salvia plants. The mystic spire shrub is the tallest of our salvias, and seems to bloom throughout the entire year, as long as it is deadheaded and is regularly fed with compost.
I'm very excited to have observed for the first time in the garden a masked bee Hylaeus rudbeckiae. This one is a female on the blossom of a bee plant Scrophularia californica. These bees may have been visiting the garden for the past couple of years that we have lived here, but they are so tiny that I haven't noticed them. They are called masked bees because of the distinctive yellow markings on their faces. I only have a photo of this bee from the side, so you can't see the
The wool carder bees Anthidium manicatum are back in full force, now that the lambs ears are blooming. Although they forage for nectar in our salvia and native lupines, they are constantly monitoring the lambs ears. I think this one is is a male, because of the lighter face. It was resting for several minutes on the lambs ear before it was back in flight, chasing other bees away from the lambs ear blossoms. It's so hard to photograph the females scraping fiber off the leaves
Another cheerful Umber Skipper Poanes melane in the garden, this time perched on the top of a Chiapas flower stem. There are many of these skippers visiting our garden all day. They seem to be very curious because sometimes when I am taking photos in the garden, they will land on a plant directly in front of me, and remain for several minutes. Because these lovely creatures are in abundance in the garden, I was very surprised to learn recently that although they are common in
All hail the mighty little Ivory Banded Digger Bee Anthophora urbana ! These solitary bees nest i the soil, often in flat, bare ground. Their peak flight activity is from June through September. The flowers of choice for them are lavender and salvia, but I often see them around the De La Mina verbena plant, as in the image above. These bees are almost constantly in flight and dart very quickly, which makes it very difficult to photograph them.