Wildlife in the Garden

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures in my garden lately; June is a great month for seeing lots of different insects! Although my butterfly garden hasn’t attracted any hummingbirds or interesting butterflies yet (i.e. any species OTHER than the common, non-native Cabbage White), it has attracted a lot of other pollinators such as hover flies, fruit flies, bees and moths. Of course, these insects attract other types of insects….the predators that feed on them, rather than the pollen or nectar of flowers. As usual, there are lots of different types of spiders in my backyard, including a couple of very small orbweavers. I hope they grow large and fearsome like the Banded Argiope that spent a couple of months in my back garden last fall. The only dragonfly I’ve seen in my yard this year is a male Common Whitetail, similar to the one that spent an afternoon here last year.


Even at the end of June my columbines were still blooming. The yellow ones have gotten so tall and spindly compared to the purple ones. I’ve seen a few Bumble Bees visiting them, but little else.

Columbine

This is my cat Jango. He (and his sister, Phaedra) love to go outside. I never let them out in the backyard unless I’m there with them, for the chipmunk still makes occasional visits to my bird feeder and I’d hate for anything to happen to him. Normally my cats are content to eat the grass and watch the occasional bird flying over, but this time Jango became interested in my Arrowwood Viburnum shrub and started to eat the leaves of that instead!

Jango eating my viburnum

One day I noticed a small damselfly in my yard. I was quite surprised (but happy) when I identified it as a Fragile Forktail. Although they are considered “uncommon and local” in Ottawa, I seem to find one everywhere I go. And I do mean “one”, for these damselflies are not as abundant as their close relative, the Eastern Forktail. This species prefers slow streams and ponds and is often found skulking in the vegetation at the edge of the water.

Fragile Forktail

That same day, while I was photographing the columbines I noticed a small bug inside one of the flowers. This was my introduction to a colony of small but lovely stink bugs living in my backyard. I managed to coax him out to where I could get a good enough look at him. Since then I’ve discovered many more of these pretty bugs in my backyard, including many mating pairs.

Two-spotted Stink Bug on Columbine

Also known as the “twice-stabbed stinkbug” because of the two red markings, this widespread species is found in Canada and the United States. It is most abundant in July and August, when it is often seen visiting flowers. The Two-spotted Stink Bug overwinters in the adult stage among dead leaves on the ground (another good reason not to clean up the garden too much at the end of the season), but may also seek shelter inside of buildings in especially harsh winters.

Two-spotted stinkbug

Another surprise visitor was this Goldenrod Crab Spider sitting in my Bee Balm. This is the first time I’ve seen this species in my yard, making me wonder just where it had come from. So far I haven’t seen it catch anything.

Goldenrod Crab Spider

The sweat bees have returned to the flower box on my deck railing. I usually see them nectaring on Butterfly Weed or Veronica, as shown in the photo below. These small, metallic green bees build vertical burrowed nests in the ground, usually in clay or sandy soil. Although they are solitary creatures, each building its own burrow, the females may dig their nests close together, sometimes even sharing a common entrance tunnel.

Sweat Bee

I’ve seen a few interesting moths in my yard lately, including this Small Magpie Moth. I had one in my garden last year; I am unsure of whether this is the offspring of last year’s moth or one that found its way here this year. I wasn’t able to get any photos of this lovely moth in the garden, so when I found one sitting near the light on my front porch one evening, I brought my camera out and took a few photos.

Small Magpie Moth

This moth sitting on my house was also familiar to me. I had seen one a year ago during the night-time insect outing at the Beaver Trail led by Diane Lepage. The Double-toothed Prominent Moth has two generations per season in the Ottawa area; the first appears from mid-May through June, while the second appears in July through August.

Double-toothed Prominent

A new species for me was this Maple Looper Moth. It is found in deciduous forests across eastern North America where its larvae feed on a variety of trees, including birch, maples, and walnut.

Maple Looper Moth

It’s wonderful to see so many neat things in my yard, considering that I live at the edge of the suburbs and several streets away from the closest source of water, a couple of storm water management ponds. It just goes to show that even a tiny townhouse lot can provide habitat for a wide variety of species!

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