Phylum arthropoda, to be exact...
Very near to where the Habenaria macroceratitis grow is a population of another woodland orchid, Triphora trianthophora, also known as the Three Birds Orchid (owing to the fact that robust plants will sometimes have three flowers crowding out the top level of the plant). This species blooms sequentially, with one to three buds ripening at a time only to open for one day. Another common name for this species, Nodding Pogonia, speaks to the fact that plants are often encountered after or before this blooming day. All the plants in a colony will bloom in sync, with the next set of buds ripening after that, to bloom in sync yet again. Hence, your chances of seeing this species in bloom at any one time is about one in seven to one in fourteen (1-2 weeks between flowering flushes). On the day we saw the H. macroceratitis in flower, we found the population of Three Birds Orchids in typical nodding, non-blooming pose. Rewind back two years ago, when the H. macro's were already out of bloom, and then we found this colony of little Three Birds in full flower...three or four individuals had flowers just beckoning us to photograph them. The tallest plant was about three inches tall, pictured here:
You can see the next bud next to the flower getting ready to open within the next few days. As we were setting up for a closeup shot, I noticed a bit of movement in the air near the flower. A small, wasp-like creature was zeroing in on the flower. I hurriedly set up and hoped I would catch the insect in action. As it turned out, my timing was good and I got a shot of it right as it was entering the flower:
Below is direct crop from the center of the image, showing the detail of the insectiferous creature:
While at first glance, it might appear to be a smallish wasp, closer examination shows that it is more likely a type of fly with a shape and coloration designed to appear waspish. The bulbous, flyish eyes were what gave it away. I attempted to identify it on my own using on-line insect ID sites, but to no avail. Finally, I ran across the page of Dr. Gary Steck of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who kindly identified this fly for me as Stylogaster biannulata, one of the 'thick headed flies'. the young of these flies are parasites on cockroaches and/or grasshoppers/crickets, while the adults are often found drinking nectar from flowers (like my little guy/gal).
This was my first good capture of pollinator and orchid flower together. Far too often, the visitor had already left by the time I had set up for the shot, but this day...this day was different. So, long odds for just finding T. trianthophora in flower, and then multiply that by the odds of catching a pollinator near the flowers, then multiply that by the odds of getting the shot timed right to capture the pollinator...Providence was definitely smiling on me this day.
Attracting and Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators, Part 2 - By Laurie Sheldon For the beginning portion of of this blog, please refer to the following link: *Native Pollinators, Part 1* Creating habitat for pollina...
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