Many insects are found in tidal marshes and the adjacent upland. Some insects spend part of their lives in the water as aquatic organisms, while others are terrestrial living only out of the water. The most common insects observed at the Teaching Marsh are dragonflies and butterflies. Less conspicuous are native bees, wasps, moths, beetles and ants. Some of these are attracted to the pollen and nectar of blooming native plants in the bay-friendly garden. Salt marsh mosquitoes are not a problem as long as there is a healthy fish population in the shallow water community.
Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
The eastern tiger swallowtail lives in deciduous woods along streams, rivers and swamps. Females lay single green colored eggs on the leaves of woody plants. The caterpillar is brown and white when it is young; when it matures it is green with orange and black false eyespots.
Monarch butterfly larva feed on milkweed. Adults gather nectar from flowers. The monarch is not a very pleasant meal for predators. Eating milkweed causes the monarch to store alkaloid. This makes it taste horrible to predators!
In the spring and summer, the monarch butterfly's habitat is open fields and meadows with milkweed. The monarch butterfly is a long-distance migrator! It migrates both north and south like birds do. But, unlike birds, individual butterflies don't complete migration both ways. It is their great-grandchildren that end up back at the starting point.
Dragonflies & Damselflies (order Odonata)
Usually found in fresh water wetlands and water bodies, few species adapted to brackish water; nymphs are aquatic, adults easily observed flying low over wetland habitats; patrol well-defended territory with perching on the tips of tall plant stems; aquatic nymphs feed on mosquito larvae and other small aquatic invertebrates; adults feed on mosquitoes, midges, and other insects; preyed on by birds and other dragonflies; Common Green Darner dragonfly and Emerald Jewelwing damselfly abundant species; Long-legged Green Darner, Dwarf Skimmer, Southern Sprite, Seepage Dancer are rare species in Virginia’s Coastal Plain.
Small, black and yellow fuzzy bees up to 1 inch; two pairs of wings held together to look like one pair; often confused with carpenter bees which have shiny, fuzz-less abdomen; females have a stinger, but they are not aggressive and rarely sting; 20 species in Chesapeake Bay watershed; take pollen and nectar from flowers; eaten by small birds and various insects but most threatened by pesticides, habitat loss, disease and climate change.