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The last of the yellowjackets?

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On Friday, while walking to work I found this male wasp, cold and still on the pavement. This was a male western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, and he was in rough shape. Even here in Vancouver, wintry weather comes this time of year, and we have had freezing nights for almost a week.

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Males are easy to recognize, as they have long, 13 segmented antennae, and a long gaster with 7 apparent segments. Females have 6 segments on the gaster, and 12-segmented antennae. 

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With the freezing weather we have had, this male was not really able to fly, so he was cooperative for some photos.

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I have seen male yellowjackets later in the year than this, usually when their nest is within a heated home.

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Further south, western yellowjackets have year-round colonies, with multiple queens, but here in Canada they generally conform to the single-foundress colony mode, with a single queen starting a colony in the spring, and dying off in the winter after producing males and new queens.

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After this session, I found a nice sunstruck patch of moss, and laid down some honey (which I keep in a vial for ant photography) and let him have a last meal in the sun before the cold of night came to end his life.

 

 

 

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Hymenoptera at Sunset

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Last night I went for a ramble at Iona Beach in Richmond BC, looking for insects and inspiration in the sand dunes. I knew the sunset would be pretty, as there was a bit of light wispy cloud in the west, so I hurried out to the end of the beach where restoration efforts hadn’t ripped up the ground.

I found my subjects attaching themselves to twigs and vegetation, bedding down for the night.

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Coelioxys spp. (Megachilidae) preparing to attach to a dead, dried flowerhead. Next time you go for a sunset beach stroll, have a look for these and other sleeping insects!

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If you are a photographer, the combination of the setting sun and your flash can do wonderful things to highlight your subjects.

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An Ammophila wasp (Sphecidae), shot without flash, is but a silhouette against the darkening sky.

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I am not sure, but I think I may have gone overboard with this session! It seems like it could be an ad for a tropical beach vacation for insects.

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This slender and elegant caterpillar hunter is fast and nervous in the day, but wonderfully calm in the evening.

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As the light was failing, so were my flash batteries, but this unplanned blur of a cluster of male Colletes males is still cool!

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There are so many bees on this flower that it sags to the ground!

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The Colletes cluster against the darkening sky of night.

Next time you go for an evening stroll on a sandy beach, head up to the dune vegetation, and have a look for these wonderful sleeping wasps and bees!

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SEQ concours photos/SEQ photo contest

Par/by Guillaume Dury
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Chaque année, la Société d’Entomologie du Québec organise un concours photos, afin de trouver les couvertures du bulletin de la société, intitulé Antennae.

Pour aller avec le thème de la conférence de cette année “Entomologie et agriculture biologique; de l’écologie à la pratique”, j’ai choisi le thème “formidable prédateurs à l’action”.

17 photos ont été soumises au total, et les trois gagnantes ont été choisies par vote populaire des conférenciers. Puisque j’était en charge du concours, j’ai décidé du système de vote. Chaque conférencier devait donner son choix de trois photos préférées. 3 points ont ensuite été attribués pour un premier choix, 2 pour le deuxième et 1 pour le troisième. Chaque photographe ne pouvait gagner qu’un des trois prix. Je suis heureux de présenter les photos gagnantes.
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Every year, the Entomological Society of Quebec organizes a photo contest to find cover photos for its bulletin, called Antennae.

To go along this year’s conference theme “Entomology and organic agriculture; from ecology to application” (my translation), the photo contest theme was “formidable predators in action”.

17 photos were submitted in total, and the three winners were chosen by popular vote of conference attendees. Since I was in charge of the contest, I got to decide the voting scheme. Each attendee was asked to give his first, second and third favourite photos. I then counted 3 points for each first choice, 2 points for second and 1 point for third. Each photographer was only allowed to win one prize. I’m happy to present the winning photos.

First

Première position/First Place: Julien Saguez

Second

Deuxième position/Second Place: Roxanne Bernard

Troisième position/Third Place: Julie-Éléonore Maisonhaute

Troisième position/Third Place: Julie-Éléonore Maisonhaute

Félicitation encore aux gagnants!

Congratulation again to the winners!

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Reminder: get your ESC JAM photo contest entries in now!

A friendly reminder from  Adrian Thysse about the JAM 2012 Photo Competition!
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The deadline for submission to the 2012 JAM photo competition is October 30! All  JAM 2012 participants are eligible to enter, so why not submit your best shots now?

The theme for the competition will be Canadian Arthropods, and there are four categories:

  1. Dead – pinned or preserved specimens
  2. Alive – in the natural habitat
  3. Dead or Alive – predators with prey
  4. Alive with mites – insect mite symbiosis (Sponsored by International Journal of Acarology editor, Dave Walter)

$150 will be awarded to the winner for each category and the “Alive with mites” winner may be offered the opportunity to be a cover illustration for the International Journal of Acarology.

So far the judges include John Acorn, David Walter and myself, and we are looking forward to a wealth of submissions from all the many entomologists, amateur or professional, that will be attending JAM 2012.

Go check out the rules and submit today!

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ESC Photo Contest results are in!

The results of the Eighth Annual ESC Photo Contest have been announced!  Judges Kirk Hillier, Kenna MacKenzie, and Rick West faced a difficult task, selecting the winners from among 67 high-quality entries.

The top seven selection will be printed on the cover of all issues of Volume 145 (2013) of The Canadian Entomologist.  The photos were chosen primarily for their composition and quality, but judges also tried to spread the winning entries across insect orders, and to have no more than one winning photo per photographer. The final results are:

First Place: Bob Lalonde, “Halictid on fireweed”. A female Agapostemon sp. (Halictidae), foraging on fireweed in June on the UBC Okanagan (Kelowna) campus.

Second Place: Ward Strong, “Stinkbug eggs”. Stinkbug eggs found on the foliage of lodgepole pine, Tappen BC.

Third Place: Julian Dupuis, “Papilio larva on Artemesia”. Larva of Papilio machaon dodi (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae), on Artemesia dracunculus, near Drumheller, AB

Fourth Place: Crystal Ernst, “Stratiomys badia”. An impressive bee mimic, Stratiomys badia (Stratiomyidae) rests in a garden at dusk, in Chesterville, Ontario.

Fifth Place: John McLean, “Honeybee Drone pupae”. Late stage pupae of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. dissected as part of a search for breeding varroa mite (none found). Taken from a hive in the Gisborne area on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand, March 2012.

Sixth Place: Tim Haye, “Pachycoris klugii nymphs”. Nymphs of Pachycoris klugii on Jatropha cucras tree (Tehuacan, Chiapas, Mexico).

Seventh Place: Christa Rigney, “Dakota Skipper on Yarrow”. A gravid female of the Threatened Dakota skipper, Hesperia dacotae (Skinner) (Hesperiidae) perched on Yarrow, Achillea millefolium (L.) (Asteracea) in a tallgrass prairie northeast of Deleau, Manitoba

A slideshow of all of the beautiful photographs entered in this year’s Competition is now displayed on the ESC Website, here. Congratulations to the winners!!!

If you missed this year’s competition, don’t fret! There is still time to submit your own images to another ESC-sponsored photo contest! ESC (or other regional society) members attending this year’s Joint Annual Meeting in Alberta have until October 30th to get their best shots of the year in to the judges of the 2012 JAM Photo Contest.

Thank you one and all for your participation, and keep those shutters clicking!

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JAM 2012 Photo Competition: Canadian Arthropods

By Adrian Thysse, Photographer and  co-organizer of the JAM 2012 Photo Competition
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The Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Alberta and the Entomological Society of Canada will be hosted in Edmonton, November 3-7, 2012 . All participants of JAM 2012 are eligible to participate in the photo competition.

The theme for the competition will be Canadian Arthropods, in the following categories:

1. Dead–pinned or preserved specimens
2. Alive–in the natural habitat
3. Dead or Alive–predators with prey
4. Alive with mites–insect mite symbiosis (Sponsored by International Journal of Acarology editor, Dave Walter)

$150 will be awarded to the winner for each category and the “Alive with mites” winner may be offered the opportunity to be a cover illustration for the International Journal of Acarology.

So far the judges include John Acorn, David Walter and myself, and we are looking forward to a wealth of submissions from all the many entomologists, amateur or professional, that will be attending JAM 2012.

Nothing to submit? There is a whole season of delicious bug photography still ahead!

The closing date for submissions is October 30, so get your macro lens on and get cracking! We are looking forward to a biodiverse flood of entries!

Sympetrum sp. Photo by Adrian Thysse

Originally posted at Splendour Awaits http://bugs.adrianthysse.com/2012/06/jam-2012-photo-competition-canadian-arthropods/

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A Meager Existence Fit for a King

By Christopher Cloutier, Naturalist, Morgan Arboretum
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The Morgan Arboretum of McGill University, with its 245 ha of forest and interspersed field habitats, is home to nearly 50 species of butterflies. Over the past two years I have tried to document all species occurring within the Arboretum and made note of the date of their earliest appearance. Many of the butterflies observed are the “expected” species, such as the Question Mark, White Admiral and the Monarch.

Others, though, were much more exciting finds: the Banded and Acadian Hairstreaks, the Baltimore Checkerspot and the Silver Spotted Skipper to name a few. Of all the highlight species found over the past two years, one that truly stands out is the Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis).

Hackberry Emperor looking down from a high perch. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

Like many other butterfly species, the Emperor is specific to one type of host plant for its larvae. You guessed it: the Hackberry Tree (Celtis occidentalis). Although the Arboretum lies within the native range for this tree, it is one that is rarely encountered. It is found naturally on the outskirts of the property and nowhere near the main walking trails; that is, until about 10 years ago when the Arboretum planted several trees near the parking lots along the main road. The trees today are no taller than 4m but are growing rapidly. This represents nearly the entire habitat in which the Emperors were discovered back in 2010, and this is the tale of their unusual discovery.

Unlike most of the species which I have documented over the years, this one came as a report from a concerned visitor to the Arboretum. I remember this case vividly as it was quite unique. A visitor to the Arboretum came by the gatehouse to mention that they were seeing a large butterfly up close. In fact, the butterfly was landing on them with regularity every time they passed by a certain location. This was something I had to see for myself. Not knowing what to expect I followed the man to where he encountered this critter and sure enough we were standing right next to the Hackberry plantation. Within less than a minute a butterfly alighted on my shoulder, a species I had never encountered before. I quickly collected it with my aerial net and brought it back to my office for a closer look.

It didn’t take long to discover that this beautiful butterfly was indeed the Hackberry Emperor. After doing a little bit of research, I realized that this was not the first time that this species had been encountered at the Arboretum, but it was the first time in nearly half a decade. I decided to have a little photo shoot with the insect just to get some record shots. I then gave it a sip of grape juice and brought it back to where I first captured it.

Hackberry Emperor refueling after a photo shoot. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

I decided to have a closer look at the Hackberry trees scattered about on the grassy lawn. There were only five trees, not more than twice my height, and I quickly noticed why the butterflies were here. They were breeding. After searching the gall-riddled leaves of the Hackberries, I discovered several clusters of eggs as well as some recently hatched first instar larvae. Again, upon my arrival several adults were patrolling the area trying to frighten me away, or maybe trying to get a closer look at who I was. It didn’t seem to matter what colour clothing I was wearing, they just seemed interested in large silhouettes near their nursery.

Eggs and freshly hatched larvae of the Hackberry Emperor. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

Since this first discovery I have encountered Hackberry Emperors every summer since. They are typically active in mid-June and their activity time extends into July and August. Their dependence on a single tree species makes this butterfly quite interesting. Had we chosen to plant a different species of tree as a windbreak for the parking area, we may not have ever encountered this butterfly again. It seems now that we have made an ideal artificial breeding habitat for this beautiful insect, and hopefully they choose to use it year after year, that is, as long as they abide by our strict “no harassing other visitors” policy.