Ebb and Flow

Summer in Maryland was apparently a temperate, rainy affair this year. On our recent trip we saw the evidence of this everywhere we went. The Great American Lawn was resplendently lush and green, weedy vegetation was rampant, wildflowers were plentiful. A wetter than average summer in Britain can be bad news for insects since the average summer is wet enough to begin with.

In the often very hot and very sticky mid-Atlantic USA, rain is clearly a boon, keeping vegetation from drying out – which ensures a good supply of food for insect herbivores (and by extension their predators) right through the season. Insects were abundant this September, predominately big ones like the cicadas and crickets mentioned in my last post, and a superb variety of large hymenopterans which I admired but have not begun to identify, if you’ll excuse the uncaptioned photographs. The strikingly handsome Goldenrod soldier beetle seemed to be in the peak of its mating season.  Add in warm and humid conditions that prevailed throughout most of our stay and it felt a lot like high summer still held sway.

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By my own reckoning this summer has been a considerably more average one for insects in Britain. I should try and get hold of some numbers or more expert opinion to back that up, but for now it’s a feeling based on the way summer seemed to get away from me so quickly. Most flowers and their six-legged attendees paid the briefest of visits, evident for only so long before fading back into memory and hopes for return next year. Perhaps most species made it out in reasonable numbers, and I just never quite caught up with things.

Then, just when it felt like the end of my bug-hunting year had been marked by wheels up at Baltimore Washington International; the sun came out in England. Late second blooms of all kinds of flowers emerged from out of the lifting fog and already drifting leaves; carder bees reappeared and recommenced their buzzing; a large white butterfly came barreling down our street. Autumn ebbs, summer flows, if only for a few days, and a usually shade-loving fellow finds that the sun now brings hope. Provided I have a hat to cover my head and a net close at hand, I’m ready to squeeze a bit more out of the receding season.


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