Monday, November 10, 2014

Elaeagnus pungens Supporting Insects In Late Fall

November 8th, 2014. Many years ago, we planted elaeagnus plants along the fence line to form a windbreak. The plants were labeled as Elaeagnus umbellata but they look more like Elaeagnus pungens (Thorny Olive) with…

Spotted buds and flowers, and…

Ovoid fruit.

At a time of year when most wildfowers have finished blooming for the year, these elaeagnus bloom profusely and fill the air with an overpowering fragrance and, apparently, provide nourishment for a number of insects.

Honey bees are the most numerous visitors. The bushes hum with the sound they make as they harvest nectar.

A few butterfly species – usually just a few individuals – also visit these bushes.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis). I couldn’t get a photograph of these on the elaeagnus. These photos were taken several years ago on butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii)

Some Variagated Fritillaries (Euptoieta claudia) also visit.

A group of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) stopped by on October 28th and I saw another individual yesterday (November 9th).

The most unusual visitor has been a black Carpenter-mimic, Leaf-cutting bee (Megachile xylocopoides). I had no idea what bee this was in spite of searching the internet. I submitted the photograph to BugGuide last Saturday. Their experts identified it by the end of the day.
Fortunately, these E. pungens plants haven’t spread in our area and, hopefully, they won’t. They do, however, appear to serve as a late-season source of food for several species, particularly honey bees as they gather food for Winter.

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