Tag Archive | Vancouver

“Too many bugs! Have to put down cement!”

IMG_9326I was delighted to discover that right across our street is a thriving metropolis of solitary bees (my guess is Halictus   EDIT: my guess was wrong! Thanks Erin! These are likely from the family Andrenidae). I was out taking some shots of these insects, when an elderly woman (from Italy I think) paused to look at what I was doing. I often get looks when photographing in public, so I explained how happy I was to see these bees right next to a community garden, and how cool it was to watch them work. She replied: “Too many bugs! Have to put down cement!”, and walked off.







I am sure the owners of this apple tree do not mind the bees!



BC Day Long Weekend part 2: Bees in the garden


A second feature of this past weekend was getting out to various gardens and plantings to see some flower visitors. I first stopped off at the Strathcona community garden, then some gardens near Commercial drive.


Early morning on Echinacea: often bumblebees don’t make it home in the evening, and I find them dew-wettened, clinging to the flowers they were visiting the previous evening. They are in no mood to fly in this state, and I get the opportunity to experiment with lighting.


With a diffused flash to the left, and a reflector card on the right, this bee gets the beauty treatment, despite her bad hair day!


For some reason, this bumblebee looks to me like she is enjoying a belly laugh.


The advantage of working with immobilized insects cannot be overstated. This shot mixes in the dawn light, hence the sunbeam!


I found a few other creatures in the garden, such as this awesome sac spider.


This flower longhorn was one of the few non-bee insects I ended up shooting at Strathcona.


Here is a dew-wettened honeybee on some kind of mint.


And a dry honeybee foraging on Echinacea.


Later, during the heat of the day, I went to Grandview Park near Commercial Drive. This is our native paper wasp, Polistes aurifer.


There were a whole lot of the introduced wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum) foraging and stalking on catmint. Here is a male on his lookout perch, where he watches for rivals and females to chase.


One of the few times they are still is during copulation, wherein the male violently grabs the female while she feeds. I believe the white tuft on the male tibia has something to do with shading part of the female’s eye.


They seem to be having a good time.



I do not normally chill insects, but this male I chilled for a short time to see what would happen. they are normally out on such hot days, it stood to reason they would be sensitive to chilling. This procedure allowed about a minute of shooting, and in not such terrible positions either.


Here he is, looking fierce and about to fly off.


Booty duty: this natural light shot shows a megachilid with a scopa full of pollen.


Pretty boy: finding the male of Agapostemon texanus is a wonderful thing. The combination of the striped abdomen and brilliant green is hard to resist. They would steal my heart from Coelioxys if they weren’t so damn fast!

BC Day Long Weekend part 1: Camosun Bog


This weekend was a long weekend here in BC, and I managed to get out of the house quite a bit (I also completed revisions to my thesis as well as 1 paper). I took so many photos I will have to break them up into several posts. This first set comes from Saturday evening, when Catherine and I visited Camosun Bog, a small bog in Pacific Spirit Park.


A geometrid caterpillar rearing up in response to being disturbed,


A female Phrurotimpus borealis, a gorgeous corinnid which we saw previously at Mt. Tolmie in Victoria.


Some eggs under bark in the forest.


A linyphiid on her web. I find these some of the most challenging spiders to shoot well.


Evening was coming on, and as the dark approached, the jumping bristletails started appearing.


Our coolest find of the evening was a bunch of assassin bug nymphs. These are in the subfamily Emesinae, in the genus Empicoris. Look at the awesome hook-like hairs of this nymph, which will hook on to debris to make a Ghillie suit kind of camouflage.


Emesines are slow-moving ambush predators, and it is not hard to get them to pose.


Here is one of the adults we found. While not difficult for photography, it eventually got sick of the shooting and flew away.


This shot shows the raptorial forelegs to good effect.

Hymenoptera through the day


Bombus vosnesenskii, probably the most common bumblebee in Vancouver.

Here are a series of images I shot during the course of a summer day in Vancouver. All are hymenopterans, which, in addition to being tasty, are of course the best insects out there.


A nest I uncovered of Myrmica specioides, a recent introduction on the West Coast.


A big Megachilid.


Myrmica rubra against the sky (bribed with a bit of honey).


I have always wanted to get a shot of one of these chrysidid beauties. I believe it is Pseudomalus auratus.



A gorgeous Philanthus beewolf, showing just how much they really do love flowers.


A queen and workers of Myrmica rubra, the European Fire Ant.


Myrmica rubra tending aphids, a few of which appear to be mummies.


Ammophila wasps at sunset, shot with the 300 mm lens.


Weekend expedition 46: A few shots from Vancouver


Catherine and I have been in Vancouver for a few days, catching up on some school-related business at SFU, and saying hello to our friends. We made a special trip on Sunday to say hello to Stanley Park with our friend Samantha Vibert, and here is what we saw!


Samantha with a juvenile Araneus diadematus. Shortly after this shot was taken, the spider ballooned right off her finger!


A Golden-crowned Sparrow.


A bright eyed and eager-looking Towhee!


This long-jawed orbweaver was tricky to capture with a non-black background, as I had forgotten to charge my second speedlight’s batteries.


A red velvet mite looking red and velvety, which they like to do.


Ensatina! ensatina! (That is how you spell it right?)



This brown Green Lacewing (Nothochrysa californica) was freshly emerged, and looking rather wonderful. Thanks to v belov for the ID!



A mystery egg sac. Any ideas what it could be?


Amaurobiids are extremely abundant in the old firs and cedars of Stanley Park (and everywhere on the coast).


This one has a cool-looking carapace.


Catherine doing some knitting on a gorgeous spring day.


Red-throated Caracara talk at Beaty Biodiversity Museum this Sunday!

Red-throated Caracaras are way cool because

If you happen to be in Vancouver this coming Sunday, please consider dropping by for my talk at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

The talk is at 1 pm at the Museum’s lecture hall. The talk is geared to a general audience, and will be filled with cool videos from our recent paper, as well as other unpublished stuff about territoriality and social behaviour.

Here is the blurb:

Red-throated Caracaras are way cool because…They are the wasp-murdering superheroes of the rainforest! Not many animals like to attack and eat social wasps because the stings of these insects are usually an effective defense. The Red-throated Caracara manages to overcome this defense daily, bringing 9 to 15 wasp nests per day to its chicks, and somehow avoiding a painful death from wasp stings. Sean McCann, PhD student at Simon Fraser University and his team investigated the nesting, territorial, and wasp predation behaviour of these wasp specialists over five years to get a better picture of the fascinating life history of these amazing birds.


Weekend Expedition 35: A short trip to Lynn Canyon


This Weekend Expedition was a bit rushed, as things were both busy and tiring for me, with the Spooktacular on Saturday, followed by a 5 h bout of Barn Owl tracking all night on Saturday-Sunday. As I slept in til nearly noon, and had a vehicle, I took Catherine out to Lynn Canyon, in her fabled homeland of North Vancouver.  The place was absolutely crawling with people, as are most natural areas on the North Shore are on nice weekend days. A major infestation! For this reason, Catherine and I stuck to the woods high above the river.



Although it was a nice dry, sunny day, the understory was still quite wet and teeming with fungal life,


Fungi, such as this Ramaria added colour to the forest floor.





Even the crevices we examined for spiders seemed to be full of fungus.


Most of the spiders we found were small Linyphiids or Araneids, but we did encounters some larger Amaurobiids, such as this pretty one. I really love the silky look of their abdomens.



We even found a Jumping Bristletail on an old cedar trunk.


We say several large slugs, but not much else in the way of arthropods except for some stray, sunning Leptoglossus and fungus gnats.


Despite the crowds, getting out to the woods was good for us, as recently life has felt rather hectic.


Weekend Expedition 33: Fall in Stanley Park


Here we are, it is already  Arachtober, and fall weather has definitely arrived. While the rains last week kept me from going out shooting, this weekend we had a beautiful Sunday, perfect fall weather for some photography in Stanley Park.


Migration season has arrived, and all the Canada Geese are definitely in flying mode. There are takeoffs and landings every few minutes on Lost Lagoon in the morning. Go south, oh poopy ambassadors, and spread your green, cylindrical, gifts across America!



This may very well be my last jumper of the year…I found her under some bark on an old cedar stump.


A Snowberry leaf makes a nice perch for this spider.


Termites are of course still to be found in rotting wood. I hope all the Entomology students pay attention: if you do not have these in your collection by now, you aren’t looking hard enough!



A couple crow shots, because i can’t help it…



Flipping logs is something I have been doing since I was a little kid…And this Ensatina is a good reason why!


Ensatina eyes are some of the prettiest of salamander eyes. They are almost like the eyes of a doe.


This is a very odd fungus I found on an old stump. I wonder if it might be a really young fruitbody of a Hericium species.


A tiny Uloborid spider, likely Hyptiotes gertshi.


Looking elegant, stretched out on a grass blade. Metellina?


Some more crow portraits


Some of my favourite photographic subjects to revisit periodically are crows.  These bold black birds seem to me unusually expressive, with minor variations in posture and plumage conveying very different feelings photographically. I like to get in close, to show their eyes and plumage. In the following shots, you can see that some are molting countour plumes around the face. In another month or so, they will be at their sleekest and blackest, and I will probably go out for some more crow sessions.











Exile in Port Moody


Well, after last week’s successful field trip to Island View Beach, Catherine and I returned to find our apartment full of water and smelling like a mouldy swamp. It turns out that the genius who lives upstairs had a toilet overflow (for an unknown number of hours) and the water leaked down (it does that) into our place. This bright star living above us thinks nothing of it, mops out her bathroom, and calls it a day. Or three. Meanwhile, the damage is done. Many gallons of water have flooded our carpets, eaten away the ceiling, infiltrated the walls, and rotted for three days. The upstairs tenant calls no one, and we return to a minor disaster.


Smartypants upstairs claims she didn’t know about the flooding. Where did the footprints come from? A mystery!

After the landlord, insurance adjusters and emergency contractors storm in, we realize that to get this fixed will take 4-6 weeks minimum, and that we cannot be there while this happens. Because we have no renter’s insurance, no one will cover the monetary cost of our enforced exile (the landlord has been great though, refunding our rent and offering for us to stay with him).  So we are moving. Back to the smaller place I had, near Commercial Drive in Vancouver. It is probably a good thing; it will save us money and get us access to a 140 lb Rottweiler. In the meantime, we are staying with Catherine’s Aunt in Port Moody, east of the school.  It is really not so bad here, it has a great view and borders a really wild ravine. I have been taking some pics (of course) to try to keep sane. I hope you enjoy!


The view from here.


Tom the dog showing off the view.


Moth in the nighttime!


Mites on a millipede?


Uloborid spiders (Hyptiotes gertschi) mating. Thanks to Robb Bennett and Chris Buddle for the ID!


A Male Drumming Katydid.



Male Araneus diadematus.


Isopod with friends.


Isopod with frenemy?


Tom and Kong!