This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Fleeting Moments.’ See more responses here.
The orange and black spiky thing is a Passion Vine Butterfly caterpillar, which I saw munching on a passion vine, as they do. The fly didn’t register with me until I processed the photos, but it was definitely a fleeting moment.
I spotted these two lady beetles on the underside of a passion vine leaf. The top one is a Seven-spotted Lady Beetle, the other a Variable Lady Beetle. But what got my attention was the fact that they appeared to be interested in the yellow spots on the leaf, as were several ants.
I knew that some passion vines produce these colored bumps to make it look like butterfly eggs are already there. Butterflies don’t like to lay eggs where another butterfly has already done so, though the leaf bumps aren’t foolproof in this regard (see here).
What I didn’t know was that the bumps produce nectar, which attracts ants, as was the case here. And the ants will defend this food source against caterpillars munching on the leaves. Isn’t nature fascinating!
This is a caterpillar with a message and the message is ‘Back off.’ This is illustrated by the orange and black coloring and black spikes, which in this case conveys that these caterpillars are poisonous. Fortunately, I wasn’t hungry at the time so no harm done. Passion vine butterfly caterpillars, on the other hand, seem to be permanently hungry. Whenever I see them they’re munching leaves like old time video game characters.
Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Past Squares – Spiky.’ See more responses here.
Passion vine butterflies lay eggs on passion vine leaves because that’s what the caterpillar is going to eat. Mostly, a butterfly will lay one egg per leaf so some passion vines have developed yellow spots to try and convince butterflies that the leaves are already egg laden. I haven’t seen this strategy working too well.
Once a caterpillar emerges it will begin a life of voraciously eating passion vine leaves. There’s an early video game quality about this as the mouth chomps back and forth across the leaves, cutting one arc after another.
However, despite the presence of caterpillars, butterflies continue to lay eggs on the leaves. So what happens when a caterpillar comes across an egg? It makes no distinction and down goes the egg. So long cousin Billy!
Sonoran carpenter bees are big. They’re the kind that, when I see one, I automatically flinch because I don’t want it to bump in to me and have it leave a bruise. Truth is, they’re pretty docile. This one is a female and has a stinger, but will only use it if provoked. Males are brown and somewhat smaller and don’t have a stinger at all.
Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.
At Upolu Airport, where I go walking a lot, there’s a mock orange hedge with a passion vine running through it. I check this hedge to see what’s happening on it and lately, it’s been overrun by flies. I don’t know why this is, but I wasn’t surprised when I noticed two praying mantises stationed in the hedge. They were having a field day.
The flies would flit around as flies do, but when one settled, a mantis would strike. Their success rate was quite high, but the flies were easy targets. The safest place to be was on one of the mantises, but that wasn’t a long term solution.
The scene remained the same over three or four days, and then, though the flies were still around, the mantises disappeared. I guess that’s understandable. I mean, how many flies do you think you could eat before you’d start looking for something different?