Encounter With A Mydas Fly

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Mydas Fly 80420” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

A the movement of a shadowy predator catches my attention at Kanawha Falls.  I’d actually come here looking to see if the mushrooms I’d spotted in July were still around but they were gone. The creature moved again and at first I thought it was a Mud Dauber wasp but something was wrong with the flight pattern. It didn’t move like a wasp should move. It’s was at that point I began to suspect that I was being lied to.  Mud Daubers are generally non-aggressive even when I’m close to their nests. Sometimes they’ll hover close and try to intimidate you but I’ve never had one actually land on me.  Mud Daubers can fly in a curve but tend to prefer flying in straight lines.  The dark insect before me now moves in curves and circles like a fly. Still, getting stung by any wasp isn’t really my idea of a good time. So I took out my long lens and zoomed in for a better look.  The first thing that struck me was the club like antennae and an abdomen that wasn’t connected to the body by a slender waist. The insect looks like a robber fly but is huge compared to the robber fly. The distinctive reddish orange spots on the abdomen were also an identifying trait. This is a Mydas Fly. Image Titled “Mydas Fly 80420b” showing the iridescent blue sheen on the wings.

The Mydas Fly buzzed me a few times and flicked it’s a few times in an effort to convince me that I was about to be stung. I called it’s bluff and moved a closer.  It charged me and pulled away st the last second.

Most likely it’s there simply to lay eggs in the rotting log.  It needs to do this because it’s babies are predators. The larvae actually resemble the Graboid monster from the movie Tremors. The maggot has an armored head with powerful looking jaws and it hunts beetle larvae.  There’s actually over 400 species of Mydas Flies and some lay eggs in the soil instead of wood. Because they hunt destructive grubs they’re being studied as a natural control on pests.Image Titled “Mydas Fly 80420c” showing the “claws” on the hind legs.

My internet research says that the adult Mydas Fly is also a predator. A closer look at the hind legs shows that they are built like the front legs of a preying mantis. The claw structure is pointed forward suggesting that the a Mydas Fly overtakes it’s pretty in mid flight.  There’s actually controversy in the scientific community about the feeding habits of Mydas Flies because they have been seen pollinating and eating nectar. I suppose that nobody has considered that they might be omnivorous.

After a few minutes I decided it was time to leave the Mydas Fly to go do Mydas Fly things in peace. Perhaps at some point I’ll be able to photograph one with prey and put an end to the controversy.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

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Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

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I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

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Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

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Sunshine And Roses Part 3

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “A Kiss Of Sunshine 71020a” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Over the past few days I’ve learned quite a bit about the carpenter bees. One little factoid that I’ve left out is that how dependant some flowers are on carpenter bees and bumblebees. These two species are more likely to crawl deep into the flowers than honeybees and thus more pollen is caught in the Bee’s fur to be transferred to the next blossom. Certain flowers are designed to take advantage of carpenter bee’s feeding habits and are so adapted that if the carpenter bees are lost then these flowers are lost as well. Furthermore, some garden plants like eggplant and tomato benefit from the strong vibrations produced in the carpenter bee’s powerful thorax. The vibrations set up a sympathetic resonance that shakes lose more pollen than smaller bees. According to the Honeybee Conservancy the economic value of bee dependant crops in the U.S. is around 29 billion dollars. Native Bees like the carpenter bees are responsible for15% of the harvest.

Image Titled “Carpenter Bee In Flight 71020a”

And yet as valuable as they are when they begin boring holes into your home they become a huge problem. So for the third and final part of Sunshine And Roses I wanted to cover a few mitigation and control methods.

When I first noticed a spike in the carpenter bee population in my area it seemed to correlate with a decline in honeybees. I have not seen any studies on this so I am just guessing here. In researching for this article I learned that the size of a carpenter bee’s brood is proportional to the amount of food she’s able to forage. And even though an individual carpenter bee out performs an individual honeybee by large magnitudes there’s far more honeybees in a healthy hive. Remember that only 15% of overall crop production is done by native bees and carpenter bees are only a fraction of the %15. So I propose that if a person us so inclined that learning how to keep honeybees just might have a control effect on carpenter bees. This would be because they are capable of limiting the available forage and thus the carpenter bees have smaller broods.

Mason bees and leaf cutter bees are also highly competitive rivals for the carpenter bees and they’re pretty much care free. Make or buy a special habitat for these bees and place it areas where bee food grows. The wild varieties will show up and limit food access to the carpenter bees. Plus these types of bees don’t make new holes in wood but instead take over holes that are already there.

The true bumblebees live in underground tunnels. And they actually out perform the carpenter bee on a one on one basis. However, in order to attract bumblebees you need bare ground and they have to like that spot. There are tame bumblebee hives available but there’s a significant risk that they will transmit disease to the wild ones.

Finally there are the more traditional methods of control.

Chemical pesticides such as pyrethrin are used to kill a nest on contact and then the hole is plugged with a dowl rod.

A few sources say to use orange oil to make the wood unpleasant for the carpenter bees. An alternative is peppermint oil. In strong concentration the peppermint is said to overwhelmed the bees sense of smell and make them uncomfortable. However, I seen carpenter bees pollinating mints.

Simply painting wood surfaces with a good paint or stain makes it unsuitable for nesting by the carpenter bee. If it’s a surface that you want to keep natural then a clear coat is better than nothing.

There are traps you can make or buy that uses blocks of wood attached to a bottle. The idea is that the carpenter bee will explore holes drilled in the wood that leads to a clear bottle or jar and can’t find their way out again. These are hung near the home and because there’s already a hole that’s the right size the bees will try to save energy by taking over that hole. Carpenter bees only live for one season but the brood will return to same hole and expand the tunnel. Several years of this will destroy the structure eventually and it makes it vulnerable to fungus.

Regardless of the control methods that’s right for you I do ask you to remember that carpenter bees are part of nature and important to some wildflowers that support the other life in the forest. So leave them some space on the edge of the forest well away from your home. Simply drilling 1/2 inch holes in a stump or block of wood and placing it in the right place will both draw them away from the home and keep them out there working as pollenators.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

Leafhoppers And The Box Fan Trick.

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Candy Striped Leafhopper 61520a” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

One of the tiniest creatures in the mountains is also one of our most colorful. The Candy Striped Leafhopper. I always thought that they reminded me of a Neon Tetra sold at pet stores. But this colorful little critter with it’s sweet sounding name is responsible for major damage done to certain timber crops as well as crops like brambles and roses. The insect lands on a leaf and like a vampire sucks the life from the leaf. What’s left behind is a dead, dry curled up leaf that almost looks mummified.

A single Leafhopper by itself does relatively little damage but they can arrive in dense swarms. In late Spring and early Summer we often see clouds insects flying in corkscrew patterns around outdoor lights. Closer inspection will show that a large portion of the swarm to be Green Leafhoppers which have the same feeding patterns as the Candy Striped Leafhopper.

So what do you do about them? Well, I’m in favor of as much natural controls as I can make work. One trick that seemed to have a marginal amount of success in reducing a large number of nocturnal insects was that fan trap. A fan trap is simple to make. You simply take a cheap box fan and attach a thin cloth to the side that blows out. Then a bright light is hung directly in front of fan intake. The insects are drawn to the light and pulled into the fan which pins them to the cloth. The airflow dries them out and they die.

I found that the local songbirds absolutely love the free meal if you empty the cloth in a place where they can find it.

As seen in the video the fan trap can be used in the daytime too. The main things to remember is that you want to protect the fan from the weather. Most box fans are not rated for outdoor use and not only could unexpected rain ruin your fan but there’s also a risk of an electrical fire or shock if the connections get wet. It’s also likely to catch beneficial insects like lacewings in the trap so try to keep an eye on what types of bugs are caught in it.

Of course there’s the insecticidal soaps and systemic chemicals. I try to avoid those because they often kill honeybees and other pollenators. Running the fan traps at night really reduces the risk to honeybees since they’re not normally out at night. And setting up a timer makes it easier to shut the fan trap down before sunrise.

Hey Friends! Just a quick reminder that Lloyds Lens Photography is available for portraits!

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To book me simply reach out using the Contact Page and we’ll set a date. If you’re within a 50 mile radius of Summersville West Virginia all travel fees are waived.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

The Organ Pipe Mud Dauber

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “The Art Of Two Masons” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Scattered throughout the barns, sheds and attics of Eastern North America are clusters of nests that look like something from science fiction. Deep within the clay tubes the brood of a winged predator sleeps. Their armor is shiny black with blue highlights. Hidden within the tail is a venom that completely paralyzes it’s target but doesn’t kill. It’s sleek body moves through the air effortlessly. It’s eyes see into ranges that we can’t perceive. But this strange creature isn’t interested in world conquest. It simply wants to exist quietly and unnoticed. And if you’re one of millions of people who are put off by spiders the Organ Pipe Mud Dauber is your best friend.

As a kid we just called them mud daubers. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that not all of them make tubes like ours do. I remember the first time I heard that high pitched humming outside of my grandfather’s bedroom window. He got a kick out of watching my look around for the source of the noise. Eventually he told me that it was just a “Dauber” talking. It’s really amazing to watch them work as they land on the edge of a puddle or pond or anywhere that they can find some wet clay. The wasp digs around and makes a little pellet of mud which it carries back to just the right spot to build a nest. They need a place that’s out of rain where the mud won’t be washed away. They need to be close to plenty of spiders and their favorite prey is the black widow. The female builds the nest with special mouth parts that actually have little paddles on the end for shaping the mud.

I have left this one at full size so you see the little paddle on the end of the mandible.

I have always assumed that the high pitched buzzing sound that they make was the wings drying out the fresh mud. However the wasp seen here was “singing” even though it’s wings were not moving.

Mud Daubers are actually downright friendly when it comes to humans. The one here was really curious about the giant who was watching her work. She actually flew up and looked in the eye before going back to work. I was always afraid of wasps but the mud dauber wasps are as tug at as honeybees. I’m sure that if I’d tried to interfere with the nest that she would have become defensive but she didn’t really seem to mind me being right on top of her while she worked. Like a rattlesnake the mud dauber usually gives us a warning that we’re making them nervous. They’ll flick their wings as if to say “back off!” I really wouldn’t recommend pushing them but it seems to be a bluff. I have never had one make good in the threat. They’re almost domesticated. Venom is biologically expensive to produce and they need it to breed. The tubes are sectioned into cells and each cell contains a living but paralyzed spider for the young to feed on.

Nobody wants to have them inside the house but when you see that alien looking mud tube on the side of a shed or rocky outcrops near the home then it only means they’re out there keeping the spiders under control.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page!

The String Of Diamonds

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my blog. Tonight’s feature image is “Morning Treasures” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The soft mists float through my Appalachian Mountains after a night of heavy drizzle. The morning sun breaks through the clouds revealing clusters of shimmering diamonds on silk strings. They are scattered all over the abandoned strip mine. If not for the fact that I was heading into my day job, I would have thought that I had stumbled upon some fairy treasure trove in the dreamworld. But this isn’t the work of elves and pixies. These magical tapestries are woven by the spiders.

Each droplet seems to float in the air forming a perfect sphere. Most of the webs are chaotic teepee shaped masses but one stands out from the others. One is an Orb-weaver.

All spiders are genetically programmed to make whatever kind of web it is that they weave. But the Orb-weaver seems to blend engineering and art. Regardless of how the web is anchored the spacing between the chords comes out even. Well, most of the time. Nobody gets it right the first time. Everyone has to practice and even then everyone makes mistakes. Even those who are genetically programmed with the engineering pattern. Young spiderlings have the pattern but mot the experience.

Though I don’t really want them in the house I do try to tolerate them in gardens and around the property as part of my pest control. Especially the Orb-weaver spiders whose webs continue to work to catch pests well after the spider has moved on.

Most people today are aware of how strong a spider’s web is. What looks like a monofilament strand of silk is actually a spun cable made of multiple fibers. But there’s more. A spider web is held together with two types of liquid. There’s the sticky goo that we’re all familiar with and there is a natural preservative. Spiders wrap up their prey in silken cocoons to preserve it. Science has confirmed that the second liquid has antibiotic and antifungal properties. If you’ve ever heard that in folk medicine to put a clean spider’s web on a cut there’s more to it than just covering the wound and stopping the bleeding. A fresh spider’s web might actually prevent infection.

The dew covered web has been on my “target list” for a while and I want to get different angles and aspects as opportunity allows but for now the clock is ticking and I only have a few minutes to get what I can before I start my shift. As I snap a few extra clicks of the shutter the vibration of my smartphone alerts me that I’m out of time. Whith any luck this spider will keep this spot for a while and I’ll have another opportunity to see water droplets glistening in the sun.

I should also give a shout out to my favorite spider of all time on YouTube. LUCAS!

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Click the web to go tohttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page!