Small Things in the Yard

By: Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

You don’t have to go far for a nature-study field trip, so over the holiday, I decided to see if I could find some small organisms in the yard that I could photograph. 

I turned my yard into a native thicket, which was bare grass 10 years ago.
I turned my yard into a native thicket, which was bare grass 10 years ago.

Walking slowly, I was able to photograph some small organisms, both familiar, and new to me. 

Long-legged Fly.
Long-legged Fly.

I identified this little colorful fly as a Long-legged Fly.  These metallic-looking predators are only about 1/4 inch long, and feed on very small prey like aphids, mites, and smaller flies. 

Blow Fly.
Blow Fly.

Another fly I found was a Blow Fly.  Blow Flies are used in determining the age of death for crime scene investigators, since their larva are carrion feeders and arrive at a carcass at predictable times after death.  The adults are usually pollinators of flowers.

Asiatic Multicolored Lady Beetle
Asiatic Multicolored Lady Beetle

This species should be familiar to you, but did you know that this species is an import from Asia?  This aphid predator is used in biological control of aphids in certain agricultural industries, but could possibly be displacing our native Lady Beetles.

Enchanter's Nightshade.
Enchanter's Nightshade.

This is a common native flower called the Enchanter’s Nightshade.  You might notice the little  seeds stuck to your socks on a nature walk later this summer, but right now, they are flowering.  A good close-up look at small flowers can reveal intricate details.
 

Take a slow walk in your yard and see what surprises you can find!   Take along a digital camera for close-up photography and use Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America for flower and insect identification.

Upcoming programs with the Delaware Nature Society include: Pine Barrens Wildflowers – July 18; Butterflies for Grownups – August 1; Dragon Run Full Moon Canoeing – August 6; and Hike and Happy Hour at Newark’s Cooch-Dayett Mills – August 14.  Visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org for more information.

Leave a Reply