Along the Air Line... 2018 - Summer, Part 15
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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September 16th.  Foggy morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dew on spider webs.

 

 

Suspended among old cattail stems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 17th.  A short walk east of Cook Hill Road in Lebanon.

 

 

Cattle at the old dairy farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) beginning to bloom.  Poisonous.

 

 

Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella).  On the move this time of year.  They overwinter as caterpillars.

 

 

Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis).

 

 

 

 

 

Asters blooming.  I'm not sure which species.  (Those are not the asters' leaves.)

 

 

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana).

 

 

Appears to be a Dingy Cutworm moth (Feltia jaculifera).  Note the pollen on the very active antennae, and the proboscis deep in a Goildenrod (Solidago sp.) flower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 19th.  Remember the five Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) caterpillars I found on July 20th?  If not, see: https://performance-vision.com/airline2018/airline-summer-18f.htm  A week or two later they made their cocoons where they were expected to remain as pupae until spring.

 

 

Today, two large parasitic Ichneumon wasps (Family Ichneumonidae, Subfamily Ophioninae) emerged, one each, from two of the Cecropia cocoons.  Sadly, I expect the other three cocoons will also host these wasps.

 

 

At BugGuide.net, I read "Females have a very compressed abdomen and a short, very sharp ovipositor. The ovipositor can penetrate the human skin; most other ichneumons can't 'sting'."  I learned this lesson a few hours before reading that quote, after grasping one of the wasps between thumb and forefinger.  Not a lesson I'll soon forget, though the pain did not persist very long.

 

 

Cecropia cocoons have outer and inner layers of pale silk (here seen slit open).  Instead of a moth pupa within, I found the Ichneumon wasp's own dark cocoon - a third layer.  You can see the round cap the adult wasp cut from the cocoon to make its exit.

 

 

Here's the wasp cocoon with its lid at the left and the shriveled caterpillar skin at the right.