For humans, the good points of Southern dewberries (Rubus trivialis) are obvious; they provide pretty flowers and delicious fruit. Unfortunately, berry pickers, nature photographers, or walkers cutting across vacant lots or fields inevitably encounter the plant’s most obvious bad point: remarkably thorny vines seemingly intent on ensnaring anyone who wanders within reach.
For the bees, butterflies, skippers, and various flies that suck nectar or collect pollen from the blossoms, the thorns pose no problem. They simply go about their business, flying among them with ease. But nectar and pollen aren’t the only reasons for insects to stop by a dewberry flower.
Here, a common, non-biting midge (probably Chironomus plumosus, named for the feathery, plume-like antennae of the male) rests on one petal, while a pair of hover flies do their part to ensure the continuation of their species. Remarkably, the one-inch long petal on which I found them provided more than enough space for the happy couple to enjoy themselves.
As an interesting side note, Shakespeare referred to dewberries in Act 3, Scene 1 of his comedic fantasy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The fairy queen Titania, having fallen for weaver Nick Bottom after imbibing a love potion, tells her fairies:
Be kind and courteous to this gentleman. Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes; Feed him with apricocks and dewberries, with purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries.
But, she might have added, watch out for those thorns.
Comments always are welcome.