The defining insect of this hike was the sweat bee. Sure there were cicadas in the trees (but not like the last trip at ALL), and the wonderful cricket, and lots of butterflies, but the sweat bees were an unavoidable nuisance. There are two on my leg and several more on my shoe in this picture.
So, Ester was looking at one rather closely one day, and she said, "It doesn't look like a bee. It has fly eyes and fly mouthparts."
Huh. I'd never looked that closely before. Actually, I haven't seen too many of these since I was a kid, and I'm not a fanatic about insects the way I am about plants.
Anyway, it turns out she is right. These are actually hoverflies. There are lots of kinds of them. It might be Episyrphus balteatus, or maybe not. I didn't collect any for further study (unless I find some dead ones in my gear somewhere). I bet Ester has a few folded in the tent!
They can not bite or sting, but they certainly tickle. They like to just sit on your sweaty body and touch you gently, hoovering up the sweat. Tickly things make me nuts!
However, they are really good. Their larvae eat tons (probably literally) of aphids which damage all kinds of plants.
So, I learned something really interesting. Any my request is that you try not to swat the sweat bees. I think I only killed a couple when I just couldn't stand it any more.
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