What's for dinner?
If you're a praying mantis nymph, Stagmomantis limbata, perched on a sunflower, sometimes it can be a long wait. Breakfast fades into lunch, lunch fades into dinner...
First you scout out your territory and spread out (hey, look at me)!. Then you lurk in the shadows (don't look at me; I am not here)!
Where, oh, where is the prey?
And then it happens. Drama on a sunflower blossom.
This little nymph managed to snag what appeared to be a green bottle fly, or that's what it looked like at the onset. Toward the end it was as unrecognizable as whirled black-eyed peas and pureed ham hocks.
A fly might not be as tasty as a honey bee or a longhorned bee, but dinner is served. Bon Appétit!
A brilliant sunflower clinging to the red ring of autumn.
And here comes a common sunflower bee, Melissodes agilis (this is a female, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.)
The sunflower bee is a specialist on sunflowers (Helianthus spp.). Scientists know this as a long-horned ground-nesting bee, a member of Anthophoridae. Both the plant and the bee are native to the United States.
Melissodes agilis is commercially important. And it's common.
But there's nothing "common" about it when "sunflower bee" meets "sunflower."
The beauty is overwhelming.
If you're in the right spot at the same time, you may get a double bonus: a non-native bee and a native bee on a native plant.
We took this photo in Healdsburg last week of a non-native bee (the common European or Western honey bee, Apis mellifera) and a native sweat bee (Halictus ligatus) sharing a plant native to the Americas: the sunflower.
A golden moment.