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06 July 2010 @ 08:23 pm
Garden Brief  
I've discovered a few interesting visitors in my garden lately, including two familiar moths and two new wasps.

While sitting on the back deck one afternoon I noticed a couple of wasps coming to the lantana I have growing in containers beside the stairs. It turned out that one was actually a hover fly of some sort....it was a larger species, and sipped the nectar from the flowers while hovering above them. Since it refused to land, I didn't get any photos that would help me to identify it.

The second one actually was a wasp. Christine identified it for me as a paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) whose Latin name means "dark, smoky-colored". While the adults feed mainly on plant nectar, they also kill caterpillars and other small insects in order to provide food for developing larvae. This species nests in woodlands and savannas, but can also be found around human habitations, especially where exposed wood is present and can be used for nest material.


Like other wasps, paper wasps may sting humans and pets when aggravated. However, they are beneficial to have in the garden because they pollinate plants and feed on caterpillars and other insects.



Paper Wasp


Later that weekend I came across another wasp in my yard, the Great Black Wasp (Sphex pennsylvanicus). Fearsome in size and appearance, I thought his blue-black colour quite handsome and unusual for a wasp. They feed on nectar and/or pollen, and as such can be found visiting flowers in fields and meadows. Like the paper wasp, the Great Black Wasp also preys on insects to feed to its larvae.



Great Black Wasp


One of the two moths I found was the Bog Lygropia, which I first photographed on June 25th.



Bog Lygropia


The other was the beautiful Small Magpie Moth. He's been hanging around my yard for about two weeks now.



Small Magpie


In the plant department, my ivy geranium is developing buds now. Of the three I planted, only two survived; the other died after being dug up repeatedly by the squirrels. The two Schizanthus (also known as Poor Man's Orchid) plants also succumbed after having their roots torn out of the ground and exposed by the squirrels' digging.



Ivy Geranium


Finally, my beebalm is in flower now and looks really pretty. I like the bold, vibrant pink blossoms better than the purple; the purple ones haven't developed as quickly and are just beginning to develop buds now, too.



Beebalm