Sunday 6: The Photographer and the Annoying Little Seed Beetle

Well, getting this up yesterday clearly didn’t happen, but what can you do? Seeing as I didn’t get a single dragonfly swarm report all week and have nothing to report for Swarm Sunday, I’m going to do my Friday 5 post today. Sunday is just as good as Saturday anyway.

Some of my favorite beetles in Arizona are the seed beetles in the family Bruchidae. Someday I’ll write a post about a fantastic behavior they have that one of my classmates works on, but for today I’m going to tell you a story in photos. This is the story of the Photographer and the Annoying Little Seed Beetle. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time, there was a photographer. She liked to do studio portraits of insects as a way to practice using her camera flashes, so she brought many insects into her house to photograph them. One day, she came upon an adorable little seed beetle. “What a fabulous beetle!” she exclaimed! “I MUST photograph that one.” So she scooped it up and brought it inside, determine to get a great photo of the little beetle.

She set the beetle down inside the studio, but it played dead!

I’m dead!

“Look at me!” it mimed. “I’m a dead beetle, and not very tasty, so leave me alone!

The photographer wasn’t fooled. “These beetles play dead. I will have to wait for it to start moving again and THEN I will get my great photo!”

So she waited. And she waited. And she waited some more. Suddenly, whoosh!


The beetle had righted itself and run across the kitchen counter in the blink of an eye! The photographer had to scramble to catch it before it jumped off the counter and was lost, but she grabbed it and put it back in the studio. It played dead again.

Nothing to see here… Just a dead beetle…

So the photographer waited. And she waited. And she waited some more. Suddenly, whoosh!

Run run run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the seed beetle man!

Once again the beetle had jumped up and run across the counter. Once again she grabbed it right before the beetle disappeared off the counter and placed it back into the studio.

“Maybe now I will get my good shot,” the thought.

But it wasn’t to be. The beetle played dead. The beetle ran.  When it ran, it ran full-bore across the counter like its very life depended on it. She began to despair that she was never going to get her great shot, when she got one she was excited about:

Upsie daisy!

It was an accident though. She had wanted to take a photo of the beetle playing dead, but the beetle jumped up right when she pushed the shutter release button. She ended up getting a shot of the beetle in the process of flipping itself right side up.

In the excitement of getting the shot, the beetle jumped off the counter and she had to search for it on the floor. Thankfully she found it! Her husband never would have forgiven her for releasing insects into the house.

The photographer spent over an hour photographing the little seed beetle. As adorable as it was, it wasn’t cooperative at all, so she never did get the photo she wanted. She imagined that the beetle was laughing at her.

Ha ha!

She finally decided to put the beetle back outside and start again some other day. Maybe the next seed beetle would be more cooperative…

The End

And that, my friends, is the story of how I was defeated by a stupid little seed beetle. That was the most frustrating insect I’ve ever tried to photograph! If it wasn’t playing dead, it was on the move. Normally when I’m irritated that I can’t get the shot I want it’s because I haven’t considered a camera setting that would work better, i.e. it is my fault. This seriously annoying photo shoot was all the beetle’s fault! And then I moved, so I never did get the really great shot. Sometimes that’s just how life works though.  If there’s a moral to the story I shared, that’s it.

If you haven’t already entered my contest and would like to do so, the deadline is tonight at midnight, Pacific time. There are some great entries already, but I’m excited by the great ideas that you all have come up with so far and I’d love to see more!  Good luck!


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

Friday 5 Delayed Until…

Saturday!  I ran out of time before I got Friday 5 done today.  However, because I’m posting on Saturday and it works with my alliterative tendencies, I’ll give you Saturday 6 instead.

Until tomorrow, I leave you with a photo of the underside of a mushroom, complete with fungus gnats:

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats

Happy weekend everyone!


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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: The Moth Says Hi

I don’t know why, but this was my very favorite photo I took at Bug Shot this year:

happy moth

Happy moth

There’s something about the moth’s expression that appeals to me and makes me smile every time I come across this photo in my collection.  Doesn’t it just look happy?


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


Today’s post marks my 450th post and I think that is cause for celebration.  It is thus time for another contest!  Up for grabs this time is a breakfast set – a generous cereal bowl and coffee mug:


The set – large cereal bowl and a mug sized for a true coffee or tea lover

featuring my crawling ants pattern:



Here are the rules, and they’re super easy:

1. Contest runs through 12am Pacific time Monday, October 15.  Get your entries in before then.

2. To enter, simply leave a comment below with an answer to the following question:

If you could pick any topic that you would like to read about on The Dragonfly Woman, what would it be?

The topic you suggest must have an insect theme to it to be eligible for the contest, but the sky’s the limit otherwise.  It could be about aquatic insect photography techniques,  an insect craft project, a hard-core insect science topic – anything that you’d like to read more about!  You give me a suggestion for a topic that you’re interested in reading about here and I’ll give you a chance to win the breakfast duo.  Easy peasy!  Just be sure to leave a working e mail address so I can contact you if you win.

3. I’ll pick my favorite topic from those suggested and write about it next Monday.  The person who suggested the topic wins!  In the event that two or more people suggested the same topic, the first person to make the suggestion will be declared the winner.  I’ll send the winner an e mail asking for a postal address so I can mail the bowl and mug set.  Send me your address and I’ll send you the loot.

And that’s it!  Let the topic suggestions begin and good luck!


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

Swarm Sunday (on Monday) – 9/30/2012 – 10/6/2012

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

It was yet another slow week, with swarms reported from only the following locations:


Fairhope, AL
Noank, CT
Pensacola Beach, FL
Cherry Hill, NJ
South River, NJ
Woodbridge, NJ
Scarsdale, NY
Yonkers, NY
Alexandria, VA

You’ll notice most of these swarms occurred in the northeast with only a few in the south.  They were nearly all static swarms too, so the dragonflies seem to be staying put for now.  Maybe we’ll see more migratory movement next week?


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


Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!


Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

Friday 5: Five Insects in Five Minutes

I am constantly reminded of just how many insects there are on our planet, both in terms of their diversity (the number of species) and their biomass (the total number of individual insects).  This was yet again brought to my attention a few days ago.  I had trekked outside to snap a few photos of the narrow leaf sunflowers that are blooming all over the prairie now for the “blog” I write for the field station where I work.  I took a quick, 5 minute detour to check out the small garden area near the offices on my way back inside and found quite a few things!  The following five insects were among those I photographed within 5 minutes of observation:

Unknown Fly

fly on stinkhorn

Unknown fly on stinkhorn. (A little help here Morgan?)

The stinkhorn fungi have been quite abundant recently, popping up in areas that have been mulched with wood chips.  I found the gorgeous fly you see in the photo sitting on one of the stinkhorns, the stinkhorn that wasn’t completely obscene looking.   (If you’ve never seen a stinkhorn fungus before, everything you need to know about their shape is in their genus name: Phalus.)  I love everything about stinkhorns, but the fly diversity they attract is especially impressive.

Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae

Cloudless suphur

Cloudless suphur on bee balm

I’ve always enjoyed seeing these butterflies.  They might be as common as dirt, but their color is fantastic.  They’re beautiful!  And they’re especially beautiful when they’re sitting on bright, flaming red bee balm.  If you zoom in on the photo (click to make it bigger), you can even see the proboscis reaching inside the flower.

Scentless Plant Bug Nymphs, Niesthrea louisianica

Scentless plant bug nymphs

Scentless plant bug nymphs on a Hibiscus bud

I was so thrilled when I saw these little guys sitting on a Hibiscus!  There are multiple ages of bugs in this image if you look closely – eggs, first instars, and two individuals of a later instar.  I thought they might be something rather special based on their coloration.  Then I started looking around and found many, many more of them on the other Hibiscus plants  and flower buds near it, including this pair that was making even more:


Scentless plant bug adults on Hibiscus bud

The adults of this species are quite beautiful too!  It took me a while to figure out what these bugs were, but I have since learned that this species it known for munching on Hibiscus.  They’re not special at all, but at least I’ll know where to find them in the future!  Their presence probably doesn’t bode well for the flowers inside those buds…

Long-Tailed Skipper, Urbanus proteus

Long tailed skipper

Tailless long tailed skipper

This poor little skipper was probably nearing the end of its life.  It’s was quite large for a skipper and still beautiful, but it was rather shabby too.  This species should have two long, thick tails extending off the back of the hind wings, but this individual had completely lost his/hers.  Because I’m me, I immediately started thinking about the ways the butterfly could have lost its tails and ended up making a crazy story that would be suitable for a wild children’s story, but unlike anything that happened in real life.  Yep, I just can’t help myself.  Sometimes my mind goes to really weird places.

When I started making up crazy butterfly stories in my head, I knew it was time to get back to work and headed inside.  Still, it was quite a productive little jaunt into the little garden patch and I learned a few new things about the world to boot.  What a great 5 minute break!


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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Easy Pickings

You know when the best time to catch dragonflies is?  When they’re swarming!  Check it out:

Anax junius

Green darner, Anax junius

I caught this one on the first swipe.  A miracle!  Then I let him go.  I really just wanted to see if I could catch one, and having proved that, I didn’t really need to keep him.  What a stunning animal!


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