Big

The Photography 101 topic for today asks participants to explore the concept of big, either by showing something really big, a part of something really big, or making something small very big.  I will, of course, always choose the latter!  I found a fly crawling around on a metal pipe in my house last night and got some shots of it.  This is my favorite:

Fly

Fly

It really highlights the bizarre mouthpart of some flies, the strange sponging device that they use to regurgitate onto their food and suck up the resulting mess.  This pipe was apparently rather dirty (nothing like a really close up macro photo to highlight the dust and grime you never noticed!), so the fly spent several minutes wandering around and slurping up dog hair and whatever else is on this surface.  Gonna clean that off with some cleaner ASAP!

_______________

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

Advertisements

Solitude

I wasn’t able to get this online yesterday, but this is my photo for the Photography 101 theme “solitude:”

Fly on flower

I spent a lot of time on my recent trip to Arizona looking for insects, and happily it was just late enough in the year for a few to be out.  It was also the middle of the bloom, so I spent a lot of time wandering from clump to clump of flowers looking for insects.  This lovely fly was the only insect on a cluster of these fabulous yellow flowers.  It had a huge group of flowers all to itself and I think it exemplifies the idea of solitude.

I believe this is a tachinid fly, but I would welcome any corrections from those of you who know more about flies than I do!  You know who you are. :)

_______________

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

Friday 5 (a day late): Insects on Holly

I never managed to get this finished when it was current, so everything in this post happened about a month ago now. But it was also just sitting there, one paragraph away from completion, so here goes!  Can’t let a nearly finished post go to waste!

The holly trees have bloomed in Raleigh and are now headed toward producing the lovely red berries they’re so well-known for. The bloom was spectacular! It wasn’t because the flowers were all that impressive as they’re small blooms that blend well with the foliage.  You can barely even tell a holly is in bloom looking at it. But, walk by one of the blooming trees and you know instantly. They positively hum with all the life that surrounds them! The flowers attract dozens of different pollinators, all eager to drink their fill of nectar, and I found some amazing things lurking among the leaves. Allow me to share a few of them with you.  We’ll start with…

Fly Number One

Fly on holly

Fly on holly

I’ve essentially given up trying to ID flies from photographs because I never look at them closely enough in life (bad habit!) nor collect enough specimens to feel confident in my identifications. It’s one of those things that’s been on my “Someday, when I have more time…” to do list for ages, but then I never seem to have more time. That said, I really want to say this is a member of the Bibionidae, the March flies.  Assuming I’m right about my fly’s ID, these are water-loving flies! You all know how much I enjoy insects that appreciate water.  :)

Fly Number Two

Fly on holly

Fly on holly

I was initially drawn to the particular holly bush where I found all the insects pictured here because I walked past it and caught this fly out of the corner of my eye.  I ran inside to get my camera, but by the time I got back it was gone.  I spent kept looking for another one because I liked the pattern on the wings so much.  Thankfully my persistence paid off! I only got the back of the fly in the photos that weren’t horribly blurry, but such is life sometimes.  At least you can see the gorgeous wings that drew me to this fly in the first place.  What a beauty!

Mantid

Mantid on holly

Mantid on holly

There’s something about this mantid that I found especially adorable.  It wasn’t doing the normal mantid thing where it nervously skittered away the moment I brought the camera near it.  Instead, it just sat there on the leaf, boldly holding its ground as I stuck the camera right up in its face.  I imagine the blooming holly was a very, very good location for a little mantid nymph to set up shop, like an mantid all you can eat buffet of little prey insects.  I never did get to see it eat anything, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Maybe his sluggishness was due to overeating?

Longhorn Beetle

Longhorn beetle on holly

Longhorn beetle on holly

Who doesn’t love a good longhorn beetle? They look so elegant with their slender antennae that nearly double the length of their bodies.  This particular longhorn is in the Typocerus genus (likely T. zebra), a group of longhorns that feed on wood as larvae.  I’ll be honest though: I mostly snapped a photo of it because I thought it was pretty.  Sometimes you just have to admit these things to yourself.

Scorpionfly

Scorpionfly on holly

Scorpionfly on holly

I’ve made insect collections for four different classes at this point, two in Colorado and two in Arizona.  I have also taught classes that included insect collections as part of the requirements.  I can say with confidence that the insect in the photo up there is one of THE most coveted insects for entomology students in the southwest.  There are no scorpionflies in the southwest, so they are precious. You have to either go visit family or friends further east or have family/friends collect and send them to you if you want to have scorpionflies in your collection.  If you’re lucky enough to have extra specimens and are willing to trade them for other things, you can trade a scorpionfly for nearly anything else you might want because they’re “worth” more than most other insects in southwestern collections.  Imagine my delight when I learned that they’re a dime a dozen in North Carolina! I’ve seen loads of them at this point.  That said, I doubt that there will ever come a day where I don’t squeal with childish glee every time I see one because I’m always going to remember how I wanted one SO badly for my collection, but none of MY friends or relatives ever sent me one…

There were dozens of other species hiding in the holly while it was blooming, predators, nectar feeders, and insects that simply sought a place to rest for a moment or to seek shelter from the near constant wind.  The bush was absolutely crawling with insects!  I’m sure this image will be horrifying to some of you, but I thought it was marvelous.  What a sight!  Can’t wait to see it again next year.

_______________

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Enormous

You know an insect is BIG when you can get it to fill most of the frame of an iPhone shot without any sort of macro lens attachments.  Check this crane fly out!

Crane fly

Crane fly

That’s enormous for a crane fly.  I think they’re fun, but I know a lot of people are terrified of them.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these flies can’t hurt you!  Most of them can’t even eat as adults, so they got nuthin’ to bite you with.  Nuthin’!  You’re totally safe around these guys, no matter how big and leggy they are.

_______________

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: I Can See Myself in That Fly’s Butt!

Really the title says it all!  I took a photo of a fly on a flowering shrub over the summer and the abdomen was REALLY shiny:

Fly on bush

Fly on bush

So shiny, in fact, that I could see my reflection in the fly’s butt!  Check it out:

Fly butt up close

Of all the things you thought you might do today, I’d bet staring intently at a fly’s derriere wasn’t one of them.  :)

_______________

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

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, NIESTHREA LOUISIANICA

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

Running Behind

Yesterday was a crazy busy day and I didn’t have a chance to finish the post I was working on for today.  I’ll post it tomorrow instead!  In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at an image from the post:

Midas Fly

Midas fly

Until tomorrow!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © TheDragonflyWoman.com