Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Coming Up For Air

I had my camera at work the other day, taking some photos of the red-headed woodpecker that’s nesting there.  Quitting time came, so I closed up the office and the field station and headed down to the pond for some after-hours photography before heading home.  The light was harsh and very bright, but it highlighted a bunch of animals popping their heads up out of the water all over the pond:

Tadpole surfacing

I thought at first that they were fish, but we don’t have fish in the Prairie Ridge pond.  The only other thing that made sense was that they could be tadpoles coming up for air, but I didn’t know enough about tadpoles to know if this is something they even do.  So I asked one of the Museum’s herpetologists about it and sent him this picture – and I was right!  Tadpoles apparently do this when oxygen levels are low.  If the hundreds of tadpoles I saw were any indication, the oxygen levels in the pond are pretty bad right now…

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: The Last Thing Many Aquatic Insects Ever See

If you’re a small, aquatic insect, fish, or tadpole, this image should make you fear for your life:

Dragonfly nymph

Dragonfly nymphs are pretty ferocious, so I imagine that something like this is the last thing many small aquatics ever see, right before that mouthpart snaps out, grabs them, and eats them…

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Welcome 2014!

This spider is happy it’s 2014, so he’s celebrating:

jumping spider

Dancing jumping spider

Hope you are too!  Here’s to a happy, productive, and wonderfully fun 2014 for you all!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Merry Christmas from the Dragonfly Woman

I know I’ve been terrible about blogging recently and it’s because I have a whole lot of family and personal stuff going on right now that is sucking up all of my free time, but it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas if I didn’t at least post a Christmas insect for you all!  This year, the hat went on one of my favorite beetles, the delta flower scarab:

Santa scarab-2

Santa scarab

I even got to use a Christmas toy to make this year’s Santa insect: my husband got me a Wacom tablet! Woo!

Hope all of you out there who celebrate Christmas are having a wonderful, spectacular day!  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you are having a wonderful, spectacular, everyday sort of day instead.

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Summery

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been cold lately!  It’s been chilly here, so today I thought I’d share an image that I took when the weather was warmer to make myself feel better about the cold:

Delta flower scarab, Trigonopeltastes delta

Delta flower scarab, Trigonopeltastes delta

That’s a delta flower scarab on the flower of a rattlesnake master plant.  These are, I think, my favorite beetles in North Carolina.  Granted, I haven’t done a whole lot of blacklighting yet, nor have I come across any of the eastern Hercules beetles in the wild, but I think these beetles are marvelous.  They also scream “summer!” to me!  Ahh, that was a lovely warm summer day.  Is it bad that I already miss summer when the winter hasn’t even begun?

In case any of you are interested, I wrote a blog post yesterday about aquatic insects and how they can remain active even in cold weather.  It’s up on the blog for my museum. Please feel free to check it out!

Hope everyone stays warm – and happy Thanksgiving to all of you ‘Mericans out there!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Livestock

I thought I’d jump on the ant bandwagon today and post a photo of an ant I took a few weeks ago while waiting for my husband to come pick me up after work:

big ant

Big ant

What sets my blog apart from the ant people who blog is the fact that I can’t tell you much about this ant apart from “huge” and “appears to be tending aphids.”   I can’t be completely sure that the latter is happening as I don’t know which ant species this is, but I suspect this ant was hanging around the aphids for their honeydew, a sweet liquid aphids excrete that many ant species love.  The way it typically works is the aphids benefit from having the ants herding them because the ants protect the aphids from would-be predators.  It’s a pretty neat system, so I hope that’s what was happening here!  Any of you ant people out there want to provide any additional information?  Would love to complete the story a bit more!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Fireflies on the Prairie

I grew up in a place that didn’t have fireflies that lit up at night, but I have loved them as long as I can remember.  I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, when I saw a firefly a few nights after I moved to Raleigh!  Finally, I lived in a place that has them and seeing them will no longer be a lovely benefit of visiting my relatives in the Midwest, but something I can indulge in every summer.  I rarely see hoards of them anywhere, just a few little flashes here and there, but then I did a firefly outreach program at work on Saturday evening.  There were hundreds out!  They were flying over the prairie, lighting up little patches of grass every few seconds and it was absolutely magical.  So, I packed up my camera and went back the next evening to try to get a shot that captured the wonder of that spectacle.  It was raining and my camera has some serious grain issues when I try to photograph things in low light, so I never did get the crisp photo I had hoped to get.  This was the best I could manage:

Fireflies

Fireflies

Still, every one of those yellow-green lights is a firefly, and those represent about a third of the fireflies flying over that one patch of prairie.  That patch was about 1/10th of the total area I could see, so multiply what you see here by about 30 in your mind for the full effect!  It was amazing.  One of the best nature moments of my life, truly and utterly beautiful.

In other news, I am seriously upgrading my camera gear!  As of tomorrow, I will have two new camera bodies (a Nikon AND a Canon this time) and a new lens (Canon MP-E 65!!!), so prepare to be inundated by bug photos as I play around with my new toys over the next few weeks.  Maybe I’ll even try the firefly photo again with the new gear and see if I can improve on the photo above!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth