Saturday, August 5, 2017

DYSTOPIAN WALLPAPER: the Lives of Birds and Insects

Life changes fast.  Life changes in an instant.  You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

Joan Didion

This quartet of images is to be repeated side by side / up and down to create wallpaper.  The immediate impression is quiet and pleasant, but close observation reveals deadly problems in this peaceful landscape.

The upper left grouping:
The central focus is a European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) in the act of devouring a bumble bee.  The bumble bee is also being eyed by a beewolf  (genus Philanthus) and a Conops quadrifasciatus.
Two different, highly predacious,  assassin bugs sit to the left and right of the poisonous black hellebore, stalking two herbivorous leaf beetles.
The columbine leaves that interest the leaf beetles have already been attacked by leaf miners, usually the larvae of moths, sawflies (a type of wasp) or flies.

Stationed at the corners of each square are four species of ants ready to go to war.

Upper right grouping:
Attracting 3 house flies to their deaths in a pitfall-trap is the beautiful North American pitcher plant (Genus Sarracenia).  Just above are two groups of three seeds from the poisonous, vespertine, moonflower plant  (Genus Datura). Flanking the pitcherplant are the leaves of the sweet pea (Laythyrus odoratus)whose seeds are toxic.
Flying over the pitcher plant is a cicada being followed by a Cicada killer - a solitary wasp which will paralyze the cicada then lay eggs on it that will provide food for the larva when it hatches.

Lower right grouping:
A green hummingbird flies over the leaf of the poisonous castor bean plant, right into the waiting arms of a large, carnivorous, praying mantis.  The leaves by the wings of the mantis are from the bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), which can cause skin irritations.  Sitting on the leaves are lady beetles (Family Coccinellidae) ready to attack three aphids.

Lower left grouping:
A blue warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) from the deep woods of North America somehow has run across a yellow pansy butterfly (Junonia hierta) from the paleotropics. A pair of  common green darner dragonflies (Anax junius) are also interested in a butterfly lunch.
Seated in the center of a white opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is a white crab spider (not an insect) which doesn't spin a web, but grabs its prey when it comes to the flower.  In this case, it is a doomed white cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae).
Around the poppy are the poisonous leaves of the choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) and deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna).