Sunday, May 16, 2010

Inverts of the Arboretum

As promised, my last trip to the Arboretum in Montreal also revealed plenty of invertebrates.

Mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) are among the earliest butterflies to emerge in the spring, as they hibernate as adults. This one was spending most of its morning sunning on the pathway.
The quarry, where I usually look for salamanders, is full of water this time of year. And I think we found enough mosquito larvae to annoy the entire island of Montreal! The pond was literally teeming with invertebrate life. Mosquito larvae, daphnia, fairy shrimp (a.k.a. sea monkeys), water tigers (diving beetle larvae), caddisfly larvae, water boatmen, etc. There are two fairy shrimp in the middle of this photo, surrounded by mosquito larvae, and all of the light specks are daphnia.
As we walked along, we came across some other interesting characters. I had only ever seen a bee fly (Bombylius major) once before in the wild. A calm tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata) was a rare treat. These beetles are usually so twitchy and flighty, it's difficult to even get a glimpse of them. But due to the cool morning, it was content with sunning itself (perhaps sleeping?) on a small dirt mound. After several photos, my friend and I decided to go in for the poke. Once we touched its legs, it took off as expected.My favorite find of the day was a swarm of springtails (Collembola) on the surface of a large puddle. Thousands upon thousands of them were huddled on the surface tension, hardly moving except where the breezes blew them. I dipped my fingers in, and they stuck!I had often heard of springtail congregations, but had never seen a group like that myself.

It was a very scientifically satisfying day :)

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