Tree Heliotropes are blooming along the coast. They’re not showy flowers but there are lots of them and the bees are all over them.
In a follow up to yesterday’s post, a few close up photos of the flowers, which were very popular with the bees.
When I got home from work yesterday afternoon, the sun was shining, the mock orange was blooming, and the bees were busy. So I took some photos, the last one of which was the top one, which is posted in response to Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge (see more responses here).
That photo is unedited for the challenge, but the bottom one shows how I’d edit it, mostly involving a crop to remove some dead space and put the bee in a better place.
A Sonoran Carpenter Bee forages on purple bougainvillea flowers.
This bee was burrowing in to get what was on offer from a clover flower.
A couple of years ago, a hedge made up of several small coffee plants was planted along the edge of the old homestead. The plants have had mixed success thanks to uncooperative weather and a surfeit of chickens and pigs in the neighborhood.
However, several of the plants have thrived and this year, for the first time, produced blooms. When I noticed them, I immediately walked over and stuck my head down there to see if they had any scent. I didn’t notice much, but what I did notice was a loud buzzing noise and I realized that, scented or not, the bees were having a field day.
So I withdrew my head and took these photos. I’m glad I did because the flowers were short-lived and a couple of days later they were gone.
I spotted this shiny creature on the trunk of a mango tree, but wasn’t sure what it was. So I searched online using the striking details – iridescent green, red on legs, Hawaii – and the first result was a post on whatsthatbug.com. It was headlined, ‘Emerald Cockroach Wasp from Hawaii turns Roaches into Zombies!!!’ (link here). That got my attention! Within that posting was a link to a longer post with more details (here).
In brief, the female Emerald Cockroach Wasp (Ampulex compressa) stings a cockroach to temporarily disable its front legs. It does this to buy time to deliver a second sting to a precise spot in the cockroach’s brain that controls the roach’s escape reflex. The roach isn’t paralyzed, but it just stays where it is, that is until the wasp takes it by the antenna and leads its zombie prey back to her burrow. There she lays an egg on the roach, before walling up the burrow’s entrance. Back inside, the roach just waits while the egg hatches and the larva eats its way inside the roach and devours the roach’s organs. Four weeks later, a new wasp emerges from the roach and the burrow.
I was astonished to learn about this, in particular how, for the second sting, the wasp locates the exact spot in the roach’s brain using sensors on the stinger.
The source of the whatsthatbug.com description comes from Carl Zimmer who has a great article here. More information about this remarkable wasp can be found here, here, and here. And finally, a must see video of the wasp in action, including leading the cockroach to its lair, can be seen here.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘White.’ See more responses here.
In the top photo, frothy surf barrels ashore at Upolu in North Kohala. Below that, a cattle egret surveys the scene in the middle of a water fountain. The third photo shows turbines at Hawi Wind Farm against a backdrop of snowy Mauna Kea. And the bottom photo features a bee collecting on a Maiapilo flower.