Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sugar's end, Spring's beginning

I've decided that the end of sugaring - maple syrup making - is the official start of spring. The sap has run up to the branches and plans on staying there causing the flowers to bloom and the leaves to unfurl. With so many posts on making maple syrup featuring knee deep snow and taps intact, I thought it would be fun to show you what our forest looks like at the end of the season.

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Small wasps sipping from the tap.

Warm weather wakes up the insects which head to the taps to refuel. It's a fascinating way to do a bug survey. This is the big reason I removed the taps in some trees that were still not 'green' because they were swimming with bugs! Don't worry, I rescued them.

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Literally swimming in bees and wasps: all set free.

A closeup of a couple native bees:

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Small native bees: two types. Let's see (PS though I like bugs, I haven't had much opportunity to learn their names. There was also a plethora of flies: some shiny blue, some striped, some dull black etc...) um, I'm going with sweat bee and the cutest bee ever (no, not an official name). All educated guesses welcome.

Look at this cool one! Believe it or not, I actually loved bugs before I loved plants. In fact, I liked rocks before I liked bugs. Thankfully all these interests are intertwined and growing plants as a hobby is a much better conversation starter than check out the folding in this gneiss or wow a cow patty fly.

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Ophion wasp which are short tailed Ichneumon wasps is my guess

The variously named beer or picnic beetle. I guess it depends on what your outdoor tipple looks like:

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Glischrochilus quadrisignatus

The first bugs to the buckets are the owl-faced moths (P.S. This common name which captures their faces well, does not appear to correspond with pictures I found on google so it might be a local name). This one is passed on but you can see why people round here call it owl-faced.

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Recently deceased after I'm going to assume a short but hedonistic life.

Flower break - Hepetica:

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These are sharp leafed hepatica and they were quite colourful this year ranging from pink, to blue-purple to white.

Hoverfly 'crying wasp':

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Another tap shot:

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Um, Andrena (yellow-orange haired one) and some sort of little parasitoid wasp?

There were also mourning cloaks and comma-type butterflies along with assorted flies, fireflies, green stinkbug, a two spotted black and yellow ladybug, and tiny tawny metallic beetles along with moths.

Now we clean the buckets and spiles and put them away until next year's thaw. In the meantime, hard work and mother nature have filled our larder with many jars of delicious maple syrup!

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It really appears like the kids were helping in this photo doesn't it? Don't believe everything you see… They did have fun however.


Pollinator Partnership Illustration of Native Bees
Bug question? Bug net
Maple syrup insect survey PEI
Sugar Shack Bugs
David Suzuki pollinator guide
The Bee Genera of Eastern Canada
Parasitoid wasps from omafra
Microgastrinae Wasps of the World (those are parasitoid wasps - this person is really into them and hails from Ottawa! it seems. I should probably just send him my pictures.)