This young praying mantis was perched on an agave attenuata, but its tail-up pose, and the direction of the photo, give at strange appearance.
I’ve posted about agave attenuata before, in January of last year (here). The plants are blooming again and, once again, the bees are all over them. This year I wanted to focus on the bees in flight, just before they settled on the flowers to forage. This resulted in a fair number of bees buzzing around my head, but I worry less about that than I used to. I took a lot of photos, most of which were free of bees, or featured bee blurs.
These were a couple of my favorites, each capturing a bee just before plunging into the bounty within.
Agave attenuata is native to Mexico, but is commonly seen in Hawaii. It’s also known as lion’s tail agave, swan’s neck agave, or fox tail agave. These names stem from its long flower stalk which rises from the center of the leaves and arches over. Most agaves bloom and die, but agave attenuata blooms annually without dying. Also, unlike many other agaves, agave attenuata leaves don’t have leaves with sharp points or spiky edges.
The progression of the flowering process can be seen on one agave attenuata plant. In the second photo, starting at the base of the flowering stalk, there is a bare section where the flowering process has finished. Above that is a brownish section where small brown pods have been set. Some of these, that remain attached to the stem, will turn into green fruits. Near the end is the portion of the stalk that is currently flowering and at the end are buds that have yet to flower.
I was drawn to these plants, not just because of their striking flower stalks, but because in the mornings, bees were all over the plant. The top photo shows a bee clambering through a tangle of stamens and pistils. In the third photo, there were lots of bees working along the flowering portion of the inflorescence. Below, sometimes it’s hard work getting to grips with the task in hand.
I know about surface tension, but I still like to see raindrops beading up. These are on an agave leaf.
The leaves of agave sisalana are used to produce sisal fiber, which is used in making ropes amongst other things. However, what draws attention are the tall flower stems reaching 15 or 20 feet into the air. Around here, strong winds often blow the stems over, temporarily blocking roads and driveways.