Yesterday afternoon I took a short walk before some much needed rain clouds settled over western Massachusetts. I came to a patch of bluets (Houstonia caerulea), common wildflowers that often don’t seem to have much going on with them in terms of insect pollinators. This patch seemed to be no exception, but I decided maybe I just wasn’t looking closely enough.
Sure enough, all I had to do was kneel down and I started spotting little specks moving about on the flowers. The first turned out to be a tiny chalcid wasp:
I mostly only see these when they emerge from galls or leaf mines I’ve collected, having parasitized the insect I was trying to raise. Ross Hill on BugGuide.net identified this as a pteromalid and suggested that it is a hyperparasitoid–a parasitoid that parasitizes other tiny parasitoids. The next insect to which I turned my attention was a fly:
John Carr quickly identified this as a wood midge (Micromyinae), a member of the gall midge family (Cecidomyiidae), but one whose larvae feed on fungus in fallen wood rather than dwelling in galls. The tiniest specks I saw wandering around on the flowers were globular springtails of a sort I haven’t seen before:
I sometimes wonder how the intricate, colorful patterns of springtails appear to their tiny, simple eyes. I don’t know if these springtails had any particular interest in the flowers, but they were the only things I saw more than once while I was studying the bluets. The last bug I was able to photograph was a thrips. I normally think of these as feeding on the juices of leaves and petals, but this one was definitely going in and out of the flowers and picking up pollen on its back as it did so.