Monday, June 8, 2009

SMALL FLY, BIG BENEFIT!

A few minutes ago I was busy taking a close-up shot of the minute blooms on a magenta spirea when this colorful insect appeared in my viewfinder—giving me a momentary start. The black-and-yellow fly was no more than a quarter-inch in length. Its eyes were prominent and bulging, a deep burgundy. Wings were clear, the abdomen flattened. As I watched, the tiny fly—using its two front legs—grasped one of the flower’s hair-like stamen filaments which it then bent towards its mouth. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it appeared the fly was eating pollen or something off the anther’s tip. At first I thought the creature was some sort of bee. Later, when I looked it up in my copy of The Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, I narrowed it down to a species of hover fly—which further research convinced me was probably Toxomerus geminatus. Some texts call these insects syrphid flies, or “flower flies.” The latter name is pretty logical since the little flies are most often found on flowers where they feed on nectar. That’s what the fly was doing when it seemed to nibble at the stamen tip—drinking nectar. Hover flies (they do “hover” over the flowers—hence their alternate name) are totally harmless, being unable to either bite or sting. Interestingly, the larva of these hover flies feed on aphids; my Audubon guide says hover fly larva are probably as important as ladybug beetles when it comes to controlling aphid populations. The adult flies are quite beneficial to farmers as crop pollinators. Even when observing the minuscule, it’s never wise to judge something on looks alone! There's also a profound truth to the notion that the closer you look, the more you see. Yet so often we fail to look at things unless they're big or bright or bold. Thus we look only at birds and blooms and gaudy sunsets…and in doing so we miss the wonder and beauty of the diminutive. We gaze at a tree and overlook the splendor of its leaves. We recognize the magnificence of a sweeping beach, but never see the exquisite details in its grains of sand. I was focused on the flowers—and almost missed the dainty elegance of the little hover fly. I guess we all need the occasional reminder.

18 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Thanks for the gentle reminder.
This reminds me of the story "Horton Hears a Who."
Horton hears a speck of dust talking to him but the speck of dust turns out to be a planet.
There are entire worlds within worlds out there that we just don't see. Or maybe we don't take the time to look.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-
Beautiful photo, amazing 'capture'. And the 'lesson' about this striking black and yellow Toxomerus geminatus is fascinating. Thanks for the shared research.

And yes, we often see the 'big picture' and miss the little details that make whatever even possible. I love how you connect the wonder of nature to life - you are quite a guy!

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Wanda said...

...it's hard to believe but just like with the "German Shepherd size spider"...I took a similar photo...there is a slight difference in size...but they have the same cartoon like face and colorations...I'm not very familiar with flies and have no idea what mine is...but if they aren't the same fly...they're cousins.

I find some don't even notice the obvious things...let alone the dimimutive world.

Jain said...

Remarkable photo, and so true, what you say!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Good old Horton!

Worlds out there…and worlds right here, under our feet, just beyond the tip of our noses. So much life and beauty and wonder!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Thank you, as I always seem to reply, though no less sincerely.

Connecting "the wonder of nature to life" is why I write and take photos…and, really, why I get out of bed every morning. I blog as much for myself as for you and every other reader—because it makes me look and see and think; because the wonder and reason and joy in life is in making the connections.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Hey, it's not difficult to believe at all.

I started out this morning to write and post (I kid you not!) a piece I'd titled FINDING THE PATTERN…then saw your posting and saved mine as a draft for another day. I can't tell you how many times Carolyn over at "Roundtop Ruminations" has beaten me to the punch (by hours, not days!) and posted something so similar to what I was about to do that I couldn't help but laugh.

You'd think with all the stuff to write about, we'd never overlap so closely—but the truth is, the nature-tuned mind often takes a similar path at a given time. (Okay—I have no scientific research to prove this, of course, but how else can you explain such coincidence…spies, elves, magic? Nope, I say great minds think alike!)

It's true—some folks regularly overlook the obvious…and occasionally that distracted can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees fool is me.

P.S. Let's see your fly shot…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Easier to photograph than a pileated woodpecker, I'll have you know—though considerably smaller.

And sporting fewer legs than those dastardly arachnids, too!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Just like that fly...reminds us to take time to smell the flowers, enjoy the nectar of life...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

A sweet drink in a sweet-smelling place…then wing on to the next one. There's definitely a lesson in there somewhere!

A good thing to be reminded of in these trying times…

Delwyn said...

Hello Mr Grizzled...

this is a wonderful shot. He looks as if he is walking on stilts...

I love that serendipity when you think you are focusing on one thing and you are alerted to another...

Happy Days

Bernie said...

Oh what a beautiful picture, and your lesson on the fly....taught us all some science....reminds me of the story of the fish swimming around who said "I wonder where this beautiful river is that everyone is talking about" Your post are similar to Wanda's and I enjoy her blog so very much.....
Thank you for sharing.....:-) Bernie

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Delwyn…

Welcome to the riverbank…regardless of whether you've just found your way here via some circuitous route, or been a silent reader for some time. Either way, you're among friends.

I like and agree with what you said about the serendipity of thinking you are "focusing on one thing and [becoming] alerted to another..." That is indeed so often the case—and it is only when we open our mindset to this serendipitous path that we regularly find the wonder and magic.

I'm pleased you liked the post and photo. And glad to have you aboard!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Comparing my blog to Wanda's is high compliment, indeed. I'm delighted to be considered in such company.

Life must be consider in context, in milieu and location and season. The experience of things is enriched a hundredfold when we see with eyes and hearts and minds. The "beautiful river" surrounds us daily.

Jayne said...

It's so true, isn't it? Not seeing the forest for the trees? :c) Glad he flew in front of your lens so you could share him with us.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

I suspect most of us—myself included—miss far more than we notice…close up, far out, over our head, under our feet; the world teems and we're all but oblivious to most of what's happening.

I'm glad that little hover fly came by, too.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Beautifully written and a timely reminder Scribe. I think often the clue is to be still - stillness seems to produce a clearer mind and a sharper eye to see the little things.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Learning to be both quiet and still are two infallible keys to seeing more. To see well is to be focused mentally as well as visually—something my father began teaching me from almost the day I was born, and for which I've been ever grateful.