Hummingcrow & Co.

insects

Seán ☀️ End-of-Summer Summary 🍂 Kate

oak leaf gradient

Now that two weeks of dense smoke have given way to both rain and blue sky in our region, an immense sigh of relief has swept across the land and through our bodies here atop the hill just in time for the autumnal equinox. We've also been treated to a flurry of bird activity over the past few days, as flocks of many species hop happily amongst the oaks and grasses, foraging and chittering after so many stressful stuffy days. The return of our Steller's jays, towhees, and robins signifies a much-awaited shifting of the seasons.

To be sure, summer brought energizing light and splashes of delight to hazy times, but the parting curtains of golden-brown leaves offer an opportunity for rejuvenation, deceleration, and transition. We'll have some big announcements to make about our autumn plans soon...

But before we wave goodbye to the last beams of the summer sun, we thought we'd take a bit of time to step back and reflect upon various happenings around the Hill during this year's dry months.

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Seán   #Meanwhile

A hover fly tours the snowberry blossoms as an olive-sided flycatcher leads a chorus of trills and chirps.

Seán   Mystery of the Swiss Cheese Leaves

Lilac leaves with holes

In recent weeks, we've been noticing more and more leaves around the garden which look as though someone's been going around hole-punching them. And while seeing punctured foliage usually elicits a sense of concern about pests and disease, something about the smooth, skillfully-crafted shape of these holes makes them seem benign to me... artful even!

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Seán   Little Paintings: A Bumble Bee Rests in the Sun

Little bee painting

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Kate  #Meanwhile

A bottle fly blows bubbles to the soundtrack of baby house wrens getting fed in their nest box.

Seán   #Meanwhile

A robber fly celebrates a successful heist by slurping out the liquefied innards of its ambushed prey.

Kate  Mystery of the Alien-Pod

A couple weeks ago, Seán found a mysterious, silvery pod on the ground beside the house, about the size of a lime. It appeared to have been there for a while, as it was very light and seemed dried out. We took our guesses: was it a plant-pod? Some kind of egg sac? I thought it might be an owl-pellet, due to it's hairy outside texture, shape and size. We decided to lovingly refer to it as the “alien pod”:

alien pod

There was only one thing to do in order to solve the mystery – cut it open:

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Seán   Springy Summer Visitors

Kate's new friend

This spur-throated grasshopper nymph may be a major agricultural pest, but it sure is cute and fascinating to behold up close in person at this instar. Not all species in this subfamily are considered problematic, but this particular individual seems to be a two-striped grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus), which are highly problematic crop eaters. That being said, it's also a tasty meal for birds... and perhaps for humans as well?

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Seán   Pollinators Week: BC Bees & Wanna-bees

A happy bee enjoying the offerings of a camas / kwetlal flower

As of today, Kate and I are officially on our way to becoming certified pollinator stewards thanks to Island Pollinator Initiative's wonderful new webinar series. The first session enlightened us about the importance of pollinators to food production and biodiversity, with a special focus on BC's native bees.

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Kate #Meanwhile: The ants go marching... with larvae  Seán

Millions of female worker ants carry the queen's larvae through a vast, treacherous landscape (known to us as 'the garden'). Watch them go...

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