Watch out for flying insects – Times News Online

Posted on June 19, 2021 at 6:37 am

last week, while mowing with my garden tractor, I witnessed a binge eating. It wasn’t a “Jaws” scene.

I actually watched barn swallows and deer catch flying insects in the air.

Mowing back and forth across this field chased small moths and other unidentified winged insects from the grass, and once a swallow found the flying pieces, the word was out.

In about 20 minutes, at least half a dozen barn swallows and a few tree swallows were catching food for their young. I am sure that when the local farmers cut the hay, they are also joined by these helpful birds.

In our local forests and woodlands, many species of birds are adapted to catch flying “insects”. The midges that buzz so much around our eyes and ears are the favorite food of blue-gray midges. These little birds are constantly soaring from one limb, snatching a gnat in the air, and 5 seconds later, repeating it.

I keep wondering how many midges are needed to support all of the midges’ activity, but it has to be enough. Flycatchers also join the forest understory flycatchers, double-crested flycatchers, flycatchers, eastern peewes and a few species of warblers. These all specialize in catching flying “insects”.

Phoebes and cedar waxwings prefer to feed near streams where they catch emerging mayflies and their parents. While fly fishing in Pohopoco Creek a few years ago, I watched a dozen cedar waxwings soar from their perches by the creek, fly just above the water, catch an insect and return to their perches. There were waxwings in the air all the time and unsurprisingly I missed a few trout coming up for my dry fly as I was busy watching all this activity.

A variety of dragonflies fly over ponds, streams, and even fields or your backyards. They too are our allies, helping to control flying pests. If you were an insect you would need “your eyes behind your head” to avoid anyone looking for a tasty meal. We are not bugs, but you can walk around “your natural space” and see all of this activity for yourself. Get out. …

Test your outdoor knowledge: True or False: All birds that eat insects during the warmer months continue to eat only insects when they visit their wintering areas in the tropics or regions of the world. South.

Answer to last week’s questions: Water spiders (misnamed water spiders) have six legs and are insects, not spiders.

Contact Barry Reed at [email protected]

Left: With a nest full of hungry baby birds, try to imagine how many insects barn swallows catch in a day to feed this brood and themselves.

Right: This eastern phoebe nested under a bridge along Wiild Creek and feasted on emerging moths and insects near the creek.

Those people who cast their dry flies in the next couple of months should be looking for cedar waxwings that cross the water to catch bugs.

Tree swallows, our first species of swallows to arrive, will finish nesting and leave our region around July 8, but not before feasting on thousands of flying insects in your garden.

Look for redstart, a species of warbler, which flies from branch to branch to tear off gnats and mosquitoes. They usually nest in moist areas, especially near small mountain streams.

The elegant barn swallows can be seen running through the hayfields feasting on insects, look out for their feeding frenzy when the Troxell or Gaston farms start cutting their hayfields.

Not all insectivores are birds. The white-tailed dragonfly patrols fields and stream banks, catching small insects all day. BARRY REED / SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Usually perched on a post, fence, or low shrub, Spanish mackerel soar from their perch, catch an “insect” and return to the same perch over and over again.

Above: Nesting in abandoned woodpecker holes, the great crested flycatcher is one of our forest insect catchers.

Above: Nesting in abandoned woodpecker holes, the great crested flycatcher is one of our forest insect catchers.

The smallest ’empid’ (type of flycatcher species) is probably the smallest flycatcher, living in the understory of the forests around our region.

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