Friday, May 30, 2014

The Butterflies and the Bees

Honeybees- there are plenty of these girls in my urban prairie
I've been struck by the depauperate native bee community in my vacant lot prairie, especially when compared with the countless butterflies I encounter on my walks.  At first I thought I simply got up too early for them. Native bees tend to fly mid-day, and I do most of my walking around dawn. However, after scoping out the lot at various points in the day, my species list of native bees did not greatly improve. I became concerned-- what do the bees know? Did someone salt the earth of this vacant lot? Is it a superfund site?

...Probably not. While it seems strange that there would be such a mismatch in bee and butterfly richness, in reality bees and butterflies have very different needs. It's true that both are invertebrate pollinators that feed on nectar. However, butterflies don't build nests, and bees don't have free-ranging larval stages dependant upon a few host plants.  I can't help but wonder if butterflies, being less limited by parental responsibilities in their travel (heck- think of the monarch migration!), range further and exploit more isolated stands.

That said, I have seen a ton of honeybees foraging in the dense blooms of the vacant-lot prairie.  There must be a hive nearby. Beekeeping is illegal inside Fort Worth city limits, so we either have a renegade beekeeper or a feral hive.  I'm hoping there's an outlaw apiarist in the community. I like the sound of it, and any feral honeybees around here are likely to be africanized.

The two species of native bee I've seen are one male Svastra spp. and one carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginiana). I wish I had pictures of the diverse butterflies to include in this post, but they are simply too quick for my camera (especially when they are fleeing my snap-happy puppy dog's pointy teeth). I did, however, manage to collect a specimen of the Svastra.

Svastra petulca (?) male, collected on Gaillardia pulchella
Clasping-leaf coneflower, Dracopis amplexicaulis
I have documented 25 species of blooming native wildflower in the vacant lot so far, plus 2 more in the surrounding neighborhood. See more pictures of this week's 3 additions to the vacant-lot wildflower list after the jump. 

Horse mint- Monarda citriodora

Tentative ID: Lance-leaf loosestrife, Lysimachia lanceolata 

Common Name Latin Name Date Observed
antelope horn Asclepias asperula 17-May
green antelope horn asclepias viridis
evening rain lily Cooperia drummondii 17-May
hill country rain lily* Cooperia pedunculata 17-May
engelmann daisy Engelmannia peristenia 17-May
indian blanket Gaillardia pulchella 17-May
scarlet gaura Gaura coccinea 17-May
prairie verbena Glandularia bipinnatifida 17-May
texas blue weed Helianthus ciliaris 22-May
ratany Krameria lanceolata 17-May
lantana Lantana urticoides 17-May
texas bluebonnet Lupinus texensis 17-May
sensitive briar Mimosa nuttallii 17-May
yellow-puff Neptunia lutea 17-May
pink ladies Oenothera speciosa 17-May
texas frog fruit Phyla nodiflora 17-May
prairie parsley Polytaenia nuttallii 17-May
prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera 17-May
two-leaf senna Senna roemeriana 17-May
carolina horse nettle Solanum carolinense 17-May
diamond flowers Stenaria nigricans var. nigricans 17-May
green thread Thelesperma filifolium 17-May
western spiderwort* Tradescantia occidentalis 17-May
texas vervian Verbena halei 17-May
horse mint Monarda citriodora 28-May
clasping leaf coneflower Dracopis amplexicaulis 28-May
lance-leaf loosestrife Lysimachia lanceolata 28-May

No comments:

Post a Comment