The Bugs of August

September 2, 2017

             Late August and early September seem to be a time of significant bug activity, but these performances are carried out by­­­ a cast of characters quite different from those featured in the dramatic hatchings and swarms of late spring and early summer.

            It is in August that I first start to notice the intricately patterned webs of orb-weaving spiders.  The webs spring up seemingly overnight at the corner of a window frame or strung from the branches of a garden shrub.  I expect that the spiders have been present for a while, but that it is only now that they have grown more numerous that I have become aware of them and their work. 

            Yellow jackets, insects that I had never noticed in June or July, now slip one after the other from a spiraling paper nest that I had not known was there. Maybe it had been there, only small, but the yellow jackets–their numbers increasing exponentially as each batch of newly hatched workers helps to raise the next–have made the nest suddenly huge and obvious. 

            Amongst the familiar crowd of pollinators visiting the last blooms of the oregano is a new-comer, a beautiful, blue-black wasp with an astonishing, thread-like waist.  It too was not there before.    

            And, of course, the crickets, the stars among the late-summer insect musicians, only begin to strum their haunting mating calls in August.  Now, with the season progressed, the bolder males take the risk of calling during daylight hours, increasing the chance of attracting a mate, but upping the risk of being seen by predators.

            Vivid as all this end-of-summer life is, it will not last long; the first killing frosts almost always come by mid-October.

Shadows in the grass—
Spiders guard eggs, wasps their nests,
crickets call by day.

Male cricket sheltering in grass.


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