It's the Fourth of July, and amid our celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776 and our glorious nation, we celebrate the red, white and blue--the colors of our flag.
But in the insect world, we can also celebrate the red, white and blue:
The red: The firecracker red flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata, a common dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to western North America. We love to see it perched on a bamboo stake in our pollinator garden.
The white: The delicate, petticoated cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, common throughout much of the world, including North and South America, Europe, Great Britain, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Beauty? Yes. It absolutely glows in the late afternoon sun. Beast? Yes. The caterpillar or larva is a serious pest of our cole crops, including cabbage, kale and mustard.
The blue: The blue spots in the tail of the Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, a common swallowtail butterfly of North America. Its range stretches from much of North America, from British Columbia to North Dakota in the north to Baja California and New Mexico in the south, according to Wikipedia.
We've never been able to capture an image of a flameskimmer, cabbage white butterfly or Western tiger swallowtail in the same photo, but they don't need to be. Individually, their colors are strong and independent, just like our forefathers who signed the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago.
Today we celebrate the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day.
History books tell us that on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring the 13 colonies a new nation and no longer part of the British Empire.
In the insect world--specifically the monarch butterfly world--independence day occurs with eclosure. The monarch wiggles from its chrysalis, dries its wings, and gains its freedom. Metamorphosis is considered the greatest symbol of change, and indeed it is.
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."--Richard Bach.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/butterfly.html
Happy Independence Day!
Hurray for the red, white and blue!
One more day until we celebrate the birth of our country, Independence Day, and the patriotic colors will be out in force.
Insects, also, can be red, white and blue.
Take the red flameskimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata). The male is firecracker red, as bright as the stripes on our American flag.
Take the Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon) butterfly. It's as blue as the starry background on our flag.
Take the white cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae). it's a white as the stars on our flag. Okay, it's a pest, but its colors are appropriate on July 4.
Just think, when the members of the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, there were all those red, white and blue insects flying around.
We mark the holiday with fireworks, family reunions, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and the like, but if we look closely, the insects are there, too!
It's the Fourth of July--a time to celebrate our nation's Independence Day.
Hurrah for the red, white and blue!
That also covers red, white and blue pollen collected by our honey bees.
If you look closely, you'll see their "patriotic" colors.
"The importance of pollen to the health and vigor of the honey bee colony cannot be overstated," writes emeritus entomology professor Norman Gary of the University of California, Davis, in his best-selling book, "Honey Bee Hobbyist, The Care and Keeping of Bees."
"Honey satisfies the bees' carbohydrate requirements, while all of the other nutrients---minerals, proteins, vitamins and fatty substances--are derived from pollen. Nurse bees consume large amounts of pollen, converting it into nutritious secretions that are fed to developing larvae. During an entire year, a typical bee colony gathers and consumes about 77 pounds of pollen."
Gary adds: "Pollen in the plant world is the equivalent of sperm in the animal world. Fertilization and growth of seeds depends upon the transfer of pollen from the male flower parts (anthers) to the receptive female parts (stigmas)."
Our honey bees are not native to America, but they've been here so long that many people think they are. European colonists brought them here to Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1622. Honey bees were established here before our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
So, today, a time to celebrate the Fourth and a time to celebrate our honey bees, Apis mellifera.
Today's the Fourth of July and folks are splashing in their pools.
So, what happens when a bee falls in?
Sometimes they get lucky--if there's a human around to rescue them. And sometimes their luck extends to a floating leaf.
This tiny female sweat bee, genus Halictus (probably H. tripartitus, as identified by native polinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, fell into our pool and then managed to save herself by climbing onto a cherry laurel leaf.
If you look closely, you'll see another sweat bee, an even smaller one, trying to climb onboard, too.
The scenario ended well. The bee coasting along the leaf dried her wings and then flew off.
Luck be a lady...