Saturday, July 10, 2010

Insects on Coneflowers

A few days ago, I wrote about the insects I found on milkweed plants at Rutgers Gardens. Another plant where I often find a variety of insects is the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). This common native plant grows in gardens and wild meadows. For me, it is one of the characteristic plants of summer. In late summer when the flowers wither, the seed heads become a food source for American Goldfinches, which breed late in the season to take advantage of the late summer seed crop.

At the height of summer, the flowers are much loved by nectar seeking insects. In this post, I am showing a few of the ones I have noticed. Large bees such as this Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) or bumblebees might be the most obvious.

Smaller bees like this one, which appears to be a sweat bee of some sort, are also abundant around the flowers.

I have also found larger sweat bees like this one, which appears to be an Agapostemon sp. These are easier to notice than the smaller sweat bees but harder to photograph because of a combination of their small size and wariness. You might notice that the flower looks worse for wear. I think the reason for that may be that Japanese beetles have eaten the petals.

Butterflies and moths also like coneflowers, as one might expect. Here is a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) nectaring at one.