Sphecius speciosus (Eastern Cicada Killer) – Not So Fast!

Sphecius speciosus (eastern cicada killer) — Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis)

CORRECTION: I misidentified this insect. After writing the article I posted these images on iNaturalist and someone suggested it is Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis) rather than Sphecius speciosus (eastern cicada killer). Within a few hours two others on iNaturalist agreed this is Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis).

So all the interesting details do not apply to the insect in the photographs, except of course for when and where I spotted this creature.


When I first spotted this insect this afternoon I thought it was a yellowjacket. But as I approached closer I saw it was huge, about 1.5 inches long. Actually I had seen one of these odd insects along the driveway near the front porch on July 6 but did not get a good photograph that day.

I believe it is Sphecius speciosus (eastern cicada killer), a solitary wasp common in Eastern United States. Because of the size I think this is a female.

Sphecius speciosus (eastern cicada killer) — Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis)

Cicada killers are not particularly aggressive to humans but they sting and paralyze cicadas before carrying them back to the nest. The female lays an egg on the cicada, which will become food for the larva when the egg hatches in a couple of days.

Interestingly the mother cicada killer anticipates the sex of the egg and provisions the nest with one cicada for male offspring, two or three for female offspring.

Sphecius speciosus (eastern cicada killer) — Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis)

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Zinnias have been reliable as easy bouquet builders this summer and they continue to bloom gloriously. But for something different today I feature two other garden mainstays, echinacea and rudbeckia.

A small out-of-bloom Phalaenopsis orchid tucked into a shiny glazed black container was the starting point of this design.

A freshly emerged purple coneflower was inserted next. Many coneflowers are dotted around the garden, most of which are sporting dried seedheads at this point in the season to the delight of the local American Goldfinches.

Three stems of Rudbeckia laciniata or green-Headed coneflower were tucked among the dark green orchid foliage.

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

A couple of patterned Lemon Lime warneckii leaves were used to add some height and color variation.

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

Materials

Flowers
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Foliage
Dracaena deremensis warneckii ‘Lemon Lime’
Phalaenopsis Blume (Moth orchid)

Vase
Glazed ceramic pot

In A Vase On Monday – Late August Glow

As always a big thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

Solar Eclipse

To follow up on last week’s solar eclipse I thought I would share a few pictures. Yes, I do wish we had bought glasses so we could have viewed the eclipse directly, but we had fun.

Here is an image through a pinhole in a paper cup.

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017 – paper cup pinhole

My husband’s hand.

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

And, a kitchen colander.

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

Spider Lilies

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

A surprise appearance in the southern border this week is Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily).

Planted in October 2014, these are from six bulbs ordered from White Flower Farms. I purchased them using a birthday gift certificate received that summer from dear friends Bill, Cecy and Susan.

I have loved spider lilies since childhood. My grandmother had a few bright red ones that erupted through a mossy patch where I often played.

In late summer to early fall, flowers of L. radiata appear first, later to be followed by the leaves. For the past 3 autumns since planting time in my garden, only foliage had emerged each October, signaling there would be no blooms that year. As consolation the foliage overwintered before disappearing in spring.

Foliage of Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily). November 2, 2016.

So it is a delight to welcome the flowers this year. More coral pinkish than the bright red I had expected, the blooms are quite beautiful.

Sometimes known as surprise lily I accept this apt moniker as indeed they were a surprise.

Having decided these probably were not going to ever bloom I took a chance on using their designated spot to tuck in an extra tomato plant in early summer. Recently I read one should not plant lycoris too deeply, bulbs necks should be above ground to encourage flowering. Perhaps in planting the tomato I disturbed the soil enough to expose the bulbs.  Or maybe it was just time.

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily) Rising Through Better Boy Tomato Leaves

 

Monarch Sighting

 

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

This was my first local Monarch sighting this summer, not in my garden, rather at a nearby community shopping area.  This gorgeous Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was spotted mid-day today dining from a streetside planter, Southern Village, Chapel Hill, NC.

I am not sure what this little pink flower is that has caught the butterfly’s undivided attention. [Thanks to Kris for identifying this flower as Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’.] In the background is a mix of various colors of Angelonia and Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Heart).

Watch the video to see the lovely wingspread. [Thanks to Eliza for noting insect is a male: black spots on hind wings and thinner webbing.]

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

It is a special Monday: Eclipse Day, Monday, August 21, 2017.  Not since 1918 has a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the United States. Those lucky enough to live in or able to travel to an approximately 70-mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total solar eclipse lasting up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Chapel Hill is not within the path of totality, but the entire United States will experience a partial solar eclipse for up to a few hours today as the moon passes in front of the sun. Here the spectacle takes place between 1:16 pm – 4:06 pm, with maximum coverage at 2:44 pm. We did not get any special viewing glasses so we will not be looking directly at the sun, yet the effect is sure to be felt.

I was swept up by sunlight on Saturday. In the morning I had gathered zinnias and dahlias and left them on a counter in a canister for conditioning.

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

Before I had time to arrange the blooms, late afternoon sun began spilling across the room from westerly windows, illuminating the flowers and accentuating the colors.

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

Creating an arrangement seemed secondary to enjoying the light as it played on the petals.

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

Materials

Flowers
Dahlia sp.
Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again Mix’
Zinnia elegans ’Cactus Flower Blend’

Vase
Red coffee canister

 

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

In A Vase On Monday – Sunlight And Color

As always a big thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday – Mini-Mood

In A Vase On Monday – Mini-Mood

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

In A Vase On Monday – Mini-Mood

Although Monday is long past, I finally have a minute to share a mini-container of zinnias for this week.

In A Vase On Monday – Mini-Mood

Materials

Flowers
Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again Mix’
Zinnia elegans ’Cactus Flower Blend’

Vase
Black matte container, integrated pin holder (approx. 2-in diameter)

And what excuse for being so tardy? My sisters invited me to spend a few days with them at the beach. As you can see from the video, it was magical. Thanks sisters!

Morning On The Beach

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.