In town the other day with time to spare I climbed up Snake Hill. Once home to several garter snake dens, the hill hosts few if any snakes now but perhaps on such a warm day I might find some.
I visited the spot where I found the gorgeous clematis early in June. Now the seeds heads are unfurling, like mop-haired cartoon characters, the feathery plumes just beginning to show.
Next I set off on one of the trails that crisscross the hill to see what I might see. On my climb I found a couple of cow parsnips. On the pungent white flowers insect sex was, so to speak, in full bloom.
The participants were yellow velvet beetles aka flower longhorns. A new beetle to me. They were so busy making little beetles I couldn’t get a good photo of the pile on, but when the heat of the moment passed several quieted down enough to have their picture taken.
What I took to be pollen on this beetle turned out to be very fine yellow hairs. Its species name, chrysocoma, means gold-haired. Good choice.
Walking back to the main trail I spotted a grasshopper. Another find. Not an adult yet (no wings — just stubby bits that foreshadow what’s to come). Best guess? A two-striped grasshopper. The eyes are gorgeous, warm and brown-filled with tiny tan spots.
Further along the trail another cow parsnip and another new beetle — a round-necked longhorn. Several of them of varying sizes were wandering around the flowers. No sex this time (but perhaps I came late to the party).
The striking pattern, reminiscent of a sad face, made it easy to ID. In side view you can see the rounded, almost hump-like neck which gives it its name.
The black and yellow colours, reminiscent of wasps, means it’s sometimes mistaken for a wasp. But no worry. The adults don’t sting or bite, preferring pollen and nectar.
I found no snakes on my rambles. Still, it was a lovely afternoon on the hill. Gotta do that more often. 🙂
Blue clematis Clematis verticellaris var. columbiana
Cow parsnip Heracleum lanatum
Round-necked longhorn Clytus ruricola
Two-striped grasshopper Melanoplus bivittatus
Yellow velvet beetle/Flower longhorn Lepturobosca chrysocoma
(formerly Cosmosalia chrysocoma)