Robber Fly

 

I noticed this insect while out hiking.  At first appearance, it looked like a large, innocent looking fly, but after doing some research, I discovered that it is a type of Robber Fly, and innocent it is not.  Robber Flies catch flying insects such as bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and other large flies and insects in mid-air.  Then they use their short snout (proboscis) to pierce and inject the prey with saliva laced with toxins and enzymes. This mixture paralyzes the prey and begins breaking down their innards.  The snout is then used to suck out the soupy insides.  Not a pretty picture, but I guess even Robber Flies need to eat.

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.”  ~Plato

Dragonfly Days

The dragonflies seemed to know that the warm, sunny days are numbered and will soon be coming to an end.  They were out enjoying the sunshine, patrolling their territory and, undoubtedly, taking advantage of the abundance of mosquitoes in the area.  Occasionally they would rest on floating leaves or vegetation near the lake’s edge.

“Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?”  ~Woody Allen

Still Standing Strong

Since our house faces the west, we get to see some beautiful sunsets when we step out on the porch in the evening.  Between our house and the sunset stands a tree.  There was a time when it was a pretty tree with two long, full branches and companion trees standing at its side.  However, at least a couple of times over the last few years,  straight-line winds have come through and done major damage to parts of the tree and taken out some of the other trees.  Still, today, the tree is thriving, and continues to stand strong in the foreground of many a sunset photo.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patiently waiting

We spotted these two beauties sitting in their own individual webs, located near each other in a flower garden.  Black and Yellow Garden Spiders are also known as zig-zag or writing spiders because of the thick silk pattern which is found near the center of their orb-shaped webs.  The pattern is thought to deter birds from flying into the web and messing it up, as well as, perhaps, to camouflage the spider.  These colorful spiders are not harmful to humans and, in fact, are beneficial since their webs catch many flying insects which are nuisances during the late summer and early fall.

“Normal is an illusion.  What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”  ~Charles Addams

Looking back

‘Tis the season — snake season that is.  While walking to a shed in my backyard earlier in the week, I felt impressed to look back along the path I’d just walked.  Glancing back, I saw this snake outstretched, with his head held high and his tongue hissing.  Though not poisonous, it was, nonetheless, a bit unsettling to have such a close and unexpected encounter.  Today as I walked along that path, I knew to keep a close eye out for my new found friend.

“Look back, and smile on perils past.”  ~Walter Scott

Adaptability

This juvenile skink was contently basking in the warm afternoon sun.  With his neutral color and distinctive stripes, he blended in well with the dried pine needles and grass — all except for his bright blue tail, which gave him away.  Fortunately for the Five-Lined Skink, if a predator grabs him by the tail, the tail can fall off, allowing him to run for safety.  A new tail will soon grow back.

“When something goes wrong in your life just yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.”  ~Molly Weis

Immature Dickcissel

These photos of an immature Dickcissel were taken back in May along the Mississippi levee road.  Though hard to see, the bird has a small, green insect in its beak.

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated … but stupid lasts forever.”  ~Aristophanes

A quick stop

While we were passing by, we decided to stop and take a quick drive down one of the roads in the Moss Island Wildlife Management Area.

Following the gravel road that led in, we were immediately greeted by a large field of colorful sunflowers.

An old rustic-looking barn, surrounded by tall weeds, sat back on the curve of the road.  In front of us, a deer quickly darted across the road, into a field of soybeans and out of sight.

Tickseed lined the roadway and covered the fields in a beautiful yellow hue.

As we were leaving the area, we spotted a bird sitting high up in a tree.  It was an adult Mississippi Kite keeping a sharp eye out for insects and small prey.

Though we didn’t have much time to spend here, hopefully we can return another time and further explore the beauty that this area has to offer.

“And to this day I wish I had lingered … But we stupid mortals, or most of us, are always in haste to reach somewhere else, forgetting that the zest is in the journey and not in the destination.”  ~Ralph D. Paine

Nest site

A couple of ospreys in a nest built on top of a platform in a national wildlife area close to the Tennessee River

“Great things take time to build.  Great accomplishments come over time, through hard work, diligence, and effort.  Nothing is instantaneous, at least nothing of value. ”  ~Matt Loper