Yellowjacket (Western or Common Aerial?)

Photos taken August 29, 2015 at Lethbridge, AB.

Field Notes

 Yellowjacket

Photo taken August 29, 2015 in Lethbridge, AB

I had noticed a particular area of my coulee walk had an unusual amount of dead grasshoppers in the area, and wasps surrounding them, yesterday afternoon. It appears that the wasps may eat the entire grasshopper, exoskeleton and all, since I failed to find debris from yesterday when I began looking for these insects again. Wind or other organisms could also explain missing remains.  Softer tissues are eaten first. Up to five eating wasps per prey organism were found. The clicking noise of these creatures chewing through exoskeleton is fascinating, if a bit morbid.

Western Yellowjacket-2

Yellowjackets. Picture used for species identification. Photo taken August 29, 2015 in Lethbridge, AB

The Literature

My first identification was done through a picture comparison of wasps at “Insects of Alberta“. This perusal allowed me to narrow my search down to the western yellowjacket and the common aerial yellowjacket. Once I had some wasp names to actually look up, I stumbled upon the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, and more specifically, “Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the northeastern Nearctic region“. This journal is very exciting because it appears to be open access as well as accessible, given that a glossary is included to help amateurs along in species identification. Despite this resource I still hesitate to make an identification between the Common Aerial and the Western Yellowjacket. If I had to guess, I would go with the western yellow jacket for the yellow eye-loops but I leave it to the reader to decide

Posted in Insects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunflower

Sunflower

Field notes: picture taken in late July. Grows in large batches, this particular batch in a construction site on dirt piles

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Calypso Orchid

image

Post Observation Notes
Generally if I have company on an expedition I feel sheepish making them wait for ten more minutes to make a list of observations, so post observation notes are made on my own time when I don’t have the plant in front of me anymore….and are therefore less accurate. This purple beauty screamed orchid at me the moment I saw it even though I don’t exactly know what would define an orchid. I was surprised too, since I had always supposed that orchids were confined to tropical regions. Single leafless stems, standing approximately 10 cm tall, came from the ground to support this distinct bloom. I’m estimating the bloom to be about 2-3 cm tall. One or two wide, dark green leaves with strong straight ‘veins’ are found at the very base of the plant. These blooms were found early June in Banff National Park in a shady area under conifers.

image

The Literature
This species was identified through picture comparison of a Google search on “Alberta Orchid”. A notable website for picture identification of orchids in Alberta (because orchids are apparently pretty common here!) is raysweb.net/orchids by Bruce and Donna Wakeford and Ray Rasmussen. While the site hasn’t been updated for a very long time, they have beautiful photos and a nice simple page on orchid bloom structure/identification. It’s drawbacks are a lack of pictures that could help identify when their plants aren’t flowering.

Posted in Plants | Leave a comment

Unknown, Banff

image

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Long-jawed Orb Weaver

image

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prairie Crocus

image

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment