|The pattern on this one reminds me of something that would be painted on a '70's volkswagon bus! This is the very pretty Ailanthus Webworm Moth. While feeding, he doesn't look anything like a moth for a reason. He mimics a brightly colored beetle by wrapping his wings tightly around his body. This is another of nature's defensive techniques-pretty cool! This moth's name comes partly from the name of the tree that it likes to feed on-the Ailanthus Allissima (Tree of Heaven). This weedy-looking tree was introduced by central and South America to the United States back in the 1700's and now can be found growing wild just about anywhere, even in the cracks of sidewalks or growing out of old abandoned buildings. Lucky for us this elegant little insect has taken a liking to this very invasive tree! The Ailanthus Moth was originally an exotic species that was imported into the U.S. from China for the silk industry in the 1800's. During the caterpillar stage, they spin silky webs within the leaves and they were raised to produce a coarse grade of silk. |
The following pictures that I'm including in my "Color Me Beautiful" post are anything but beautiful...in fact, they are downright terrifying. I am including them here because of all the cicada activity going on this time of year.
I was photographing some birds when I heard a loud buzzing and big commotion in the leaves of a branch just above my head. I looked up and witnessed a Cicada Killer paralyzing and capturing a cicada.
For those that have never seen one, a Cicada Killer is a very large wasp that digs a burrow in well-drained soil in areas that are largely exposed to full sunlight. Their evacuations begin shortly after the cicadas begin singing. These large wasps look very intimidating, but they normally pose little threat to humans. The males cannot sting, but may dive-bomb people's heads as they display territorial behavior. The females are not aggressive and will rarely sting, but if intentionally provoked they can inflict a painful sting.
The following pictures show how a female captures her prey and then transports it away to her burrow. Some of the pictures are a little blurry due to the fast motion of the cicada killer during the attack:
|This first picture shows the female flying in like a torpedo, claiming its victim by inflicting a sting that instantly paralyzes the unsuspecting cicada.|
|The picture above and below show the cicada killer flipping the victim over and straddling it. This is the usual way in which a cicada is prepared before being transported away.|