Baby Food

A white-breasted nuthatch holds a multicolored Asian ladybeetle in its beak as it clings to a mossy tree in Bower Slough at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in June 2011

Another picture from 2011 and from another place near-and-dear to my heart, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This white-breasted nuthatch had snared a multicolored Asian ladybeetle (not native to the Pacific Northwest, I don’t think I ever saw a native ladybug in our many years there). While nuthatches do eat insects this meal I suspect was destined for the hungry maw of the babies in the nearby nest. I wish the picture had more depth of field but I was shooting as wide open as I could since I had forgotten my tripod at home and the light was dim under the canopy so I needed as much speed as I could muster.

I Am Become Death, Destroyer of Aphids

A seven-spotted ladybug on purple coneflower petals

I’ve mentioned before how it sometimes seems that everything you see is an invasive species, such as the cute little ladybugs in my yard that turned out to be an Asian species originally brought to America for pest control. But this little ladybug, fierce and ferocious (if you’re an aphid), is not the same species! Have I finally found one of our native ladybugs? Alas, no, it has two spots too few. The seven-spotted ladybug is closely related to its American cousin the nine-spotted ladybug, but the nine-spot is rarely seen these days. The seven-spot is native to Europe and, like the Asian beetles, was brought over to the States for pest control and then established itself in the wild.

This one established itself on the petals of my purple coneflower. But the aphids are on the roses! The roses! For the love of Sammy, the aphids are on the roses!

Ah well, I’ve gotten a little disoriented in foreign lands myself.