Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Leprechaun Day

Female timema from oak tree, 3/14/15  
Oaks have spring flowers too. Yellow male catkins dangle from the tips of oak branches the better to release their pollen in a breeze. Oak flowers don't have decorative petals because they are wind-pollinated and have no need to attract insects.  While examining the catkins of a coast live oak, a tiny green critter jumped onto my hand.

Dangling male catkins of a coast live oak getting ready to release its pollen to the wind.
Quercus agrifolia, 3/14/15   
I took a few hurried photos of the spring green visitor and then it disappeared.  Fortunately, I met one of these small unusual walking-stick creatures on my porch last summer to know that it was a female timema.

Male dance fly with nuptial gift
Empis sp., 3/14/15   
Later on the same day in a shady forest next to a pond, I saw a small white dot following a jazzy black dot in the air. They landed and turned into a dark fly 0.5 cm long clutching a ball of white foam below its abdomen.

What do you think?
Is that foam package empty or does it contain a bug bon-bon?   
Thanks to ID help of a nerdy Facebook friend, I found out this was a male dancing fly (probably Empis sp.) displaying his nuptial gift. Inside the frothy secretion there may be a captured insect as a gift for the female dancing fly while they mate. Although sometimes the package is empty.

Cicada 2/21/15   
A few weeks ago while I was adjusting a wildlife camera, this bright green cicada landed on my boot. It was slow and delicate and looked freshly hatched. I set it on a branch to enjoy the rest of the spring.

See Bug Guide for a discussion and Jack Owicki's great macro photograph of a dance fly found at the nearby Monte Bello Open Space Preserve.


  1. Oh, delightful. =) What a little beauty. And now, apparently, I've got to go outside and check our oaks! Might as well, as it's cloudy, so my afternoon plans to photograph Ca poppies are canceled.

    Delightful mix of bugs, and what a beautiful cicada! =)

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I'm on the lookout for the male Dancefly now! :)

    1. MizGreenJeans - is that because you like food presents wrapped in sticky excretions?


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