Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nature in the Neighborhood - Can you say "yellow," "bees," "bug guide?"

June seems to be a great month for big yellow flowers in my neighborhood.  The sunflowers remind me of France and the cultivated rudbeckia remind me of roadside Black-eyed Susans.  I took the following photos on morning walks and it seems I was not the only fan for the big Sunflower and the Rudbeckia!  The bees also made good use of what these plants have to offer.

Sunflower -- June 17, 2011
Sunflower close-up with Sweat Bee -- A Lowcountry bee species -- June 17, 2011

Possible Mining Bee on Rudbeckia -- June 17, 2011

Possible Mining Bee on Rudbeckia -- June 17, 2011

And how do I know the names of these bees?  Well, I have three sources -- two go-to "bug men" and a book that they wrote with another "bug man."  These bug men do not kill the critters.  They celebrate them!  Merle Shephard is professor emeritus of entomology at Clemson University's Coastal Research and Education Center here in Charleston.  Keith McCullough is a naturalist with Charleston County Parks and Recreation.  I know both men from bird walks at Caw Caw Nature & History Interpretive Center and through their involvement in activities with our Charleston Natural History Society -- Charleston Audubon Society.  When you go on a bird walk at Caw Caw with these two, you are also going on a bug walk!  It is quite informative and fascinating.  Their passion for these critters is infectious, as well!  And I can promise you, you will not miss a bug!  You will certainly see some impressive bug behaviors also.  I will never forget how quickly the praying mantis devoured the moth -- it was gone in seconds.  And I would never have seen this if Merle had not been there to point it out!

  These two men co-authored with Edward Farnworth, another professor of entomology at Clemson University's Coastal Research and Education Center, an insect pocket guide, Common Insects & Spiders of the South Carolina Lowcountry, published by Lowcountry Biodiversity Foundation.  This book has now become our "go-to" book when we come home from our treks in the field and need to ID an insect that we have photographed.  You can read reviews of the book on-line, if you google it, or on the Lowcountry Biodiverstiy Foundation site.  You do not need to take just my word for it, Rudy Manke is also a fan of this guide!  This organization is a non-profit whose mission is "to promote educational, scientific and economic activities that support the awareness, value and conservation of the Lowcountry's rich biological and ecological resources."  This book is a first in a series which they are publishing to help us all understand better the nature surrounding us here.  Proceeds from this book will help to fund the publication of subsequent issues in the series.  I wonder what they will do next!  The book is available in several local bookstores including the Caw Caw Visitor Center.  Or, you can send $18 to the Lowcountry Biodiversity Foundation.  The address can be found by clicking on the link above.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love that book, we have one at work and it's very useful! Sometimes you have to take a moment to stop and smell the flowers... then identify everything on them :)