Looking through some old bee pictures and found this Bumble bee portrait. I think this is probably a Yellow-faced Bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii), but the Obscure Bumble bee (Bombus caliginosus) looks very similar and can’t be ruled out with the photos I have.
I’m not very good at identifying bees so I’m going to try and work on that this summer. If anyone knows any good resources for bees of British Columbia, or anything specific to Vancouver Island I would love to hear about it.
This is a subspecies of the Common Ringlet, a butterfly that is widespread and common worldwide. The insulana subspecies is limited to the Pacific Northwest and in Canada is only known from Vancouver Island and some of the Gulf Islands. It is a red-listed species in Canada, at risk of being extirpated.
This butterfly was one of the most abundant butterflies on Vancouver Island in the 1950s, but now their population has plummeted. They require short native green grasses for their larvae to feed on. Sites need to have enough moisture for the grass to stay green through the summer, but not so wet that it floods during the winter. Like most species, habitat loss is responsible for their decline. Suitable habitat has been urbanized or invasives such as Scotch Broom has taken over.
Despite being red-listed they are not a hard butterfly to find if you go to the right habitat. If you visit Island View Beach on a hot sunny day you can easily find 40-50 of them fluttering around the back fields.
A Western Leafcutter sleeping on a dead Puget Sound Gumweed stalk.
These bees nest in hollow twigs and burrows in the sand. They create a series of cells, each cell containing some nectar, pollen and an egg. They line the cells with leaf fragments to prevent the nectar and pollen from drying up. This is where they get the leafcutter name.
It was nice to get a good macro session in last night at Island View Beach after work yesterday. The dune and shrub ecosystem makes for some really interesting arthropod diversity. There are many plant and arthropod species/subspecies that are almost endemic to the beach since it is a unique ecosystem for the area.
After a successful dive the dippers will typically emerge with aquatic insect larvae (caddisflies, stoneflies, etc) stuffed in their beak. Sometimes they may also catch salmon fry (Coho/Chum) or in the fall they often come up with mouthfuls of Chum eggs.
I haven’t been down to visit the dippers in quite a while. It may be worth a visit soon though because they will probably have fledglings out in the river at this time of year.
A Willow Flycatcher photographed yesterday morning.
Willow Flycatchers are a recent migrant to Vancouver Island. They belong to the genus Empidonax. Empidonax species are notoriously difficult to tell apart from each other visually. In the case of the Willow Flycatcher there is a closely related Alder Flycatcher. These two species are essentially identical and vocalizations are required to tell them apart.
I hope to photograph more flycatchers this season. They are a group I seem to overlook each year.
A Blue-green Sharpshooter sitting on a Himalayan Blackberry leaf.
These bugs use their piercing mouthparts to get at a plant’s xylem tissue and feed on the fluids. Any excess fluid gets forcibly shot out of their rear end like a squirt gun. This is how they get their name.
This beetle is an introduced species from Europe. As adults they feed on leaves. Females lay 150-200 eggs in the soil where their larvae, called wireworms will live for five years feeding on roots. After five years of burrowing around they pupate during the summer.
The new adults go right into diapause after pupating. This is like a state of suspended animation where no growth occurs. They remain in diapause through the winter until the following spring. Then they go about their lives. Eating leaves and clicking themselves upright when they get stuck upside down.