Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 14th, 2012

Sometimes a mild and useful vegetarian

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For the past couple of days you’ve been hearing me say that while people may not be attracted to the tiny flowers of snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata, insects are. As a third piece of evidence, I give you this photograph of an assassin bug, Apiomerus spissipes. You may remember, perhaps with revulsion, the way I described this kind of insect in a post showing an assassin bug on eryngo: when one of these bugs attacks its prey, it brings out an appendage that it normally keeps folded back under its body, and it uses that “sword” to pierce its victim and suck out what’s inside. But it turns out that this assassin bug isn’t all assassin, and the same deadly weapon serves as well for sucking nectar from flowers, which is what you see the bug doing here (and maybe lessening your earlier revulsion and endearing itself to you a little now: thus are swords turned into flowershares.) Notice the yellow pollen clinging to the outside of the assassin bug’s appendage and also to the tips of its front legs.

Today’s picture—the final one in this miniseries showing how insects are attracted to the tiny flowers of snow-on-the-mountain—is from the same August 30 photo session along the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County that brought you the two pictures of a queen butterfly yesterday.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2012 at 6:05 AM

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