I went for butterflies, and came back with some sort of hornet, probably. Or mebbe a beehive. Dunno. All I know is, it was a big blob in the tree branches that got my attention.
Up til then, I hadn’t had much luck. I’d come over to the Seattle Times building because it’s close, and there’s a park, and I’ve had good luck seeing butterflies there in the past. I yearned for butterflies. There haven’t been that many in the places I’ve been this summer. Nor dragonflies, although the backyard is full of them. They don’t land on my porch railings often. When they do, it’s always when I don’t have a suitable camera handy. So I popped down to the park when I needed walkies, and had a lovely encounter with a fluttery white butterfly that zipped back and forth past me for a while, but didn’t ever land. No photographs, but plenty of happy.
On the way back, I noticed a great blob hanging in the branches of one of the trees, and decided to investigate.
How beautiful! And no, I wasn’t worried about getting stung – the thing was up fairly high, and there weren’t many little critters flying about. I figured if I didn’t poke ’em with a stick, we’d be copacetic. And we were. The few crawling about on the nest didn’t mind my presence a bit.
I love the patterning – it reminds me just a bit of liesegang banding, although this is clearly life-made. From what little reading I did on the subject, it appears that this is made of chewed-up bark. But we’ll know more if one of you are able to identify these critters.
Because of the distance and the branches in the way, it was hard to get any shots of these house-building cryptopods. And it was really hard to see from a distance – I couldn’t even tell until I looked at the zoom that there were any there. But I got a couple of shots that may aid in identification.
As far as I can tell from a desultory internet search, this kind of hive looks like a yellow jacket hive. But these don’t look like yellow jackets – too much black and no yellow.
I have no idea. But I like them better than the bee that’s been buzzing round my place at least once a day, all curious about what I’m doing and wanting to get all up in my business. I had to eventually whap it with a duster dealie to make it go away. The duster dealie doesn’t hurt it a bit, just tells it to get gone. And it does – until the following day. These guys, on the other hand, were very mellow, and had a “we’ll stay up here as long as you stay down there” philosophy.
I took one last, lingering look, and then headed back toward home. I didn’t get far, though, before running in to a herd of bright-orange butterflies dining on clover flowers. They were completely adorable and delayed my departure by some time.
I love these moments in urban nature.