Flowers and Flies

Exploring the world of insects is an excellent example of how digital photography has opened a door into a world most folks don’t give much thought to much less appreciate. A passion for bugs may start out innocently enough when one decides to photograph a flower and finds that it’s occupied by many creatures not noticed before. A closer look reveals some to be beautiful and fascinating in their own right and others downright scary. This may prompt one to make an effort to identify the bug just photographed which in turn often leads to an awareness of how much there is yet to learn about this small world. 

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Fortunately it doesn’t take an expensive camera to get a reasonable picture of a insect the size of the common house fly. We’re not talking macro-photography here, where one focuses on the dragonfly’s eye, but instead about a picture that will allow you to identify the insect and be good enough to share on social media. Our favorite of the small sensor “bridge cameras” is the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 or 300. With their fast lens and close focus capability they are a great all round camera for anyone starting out in nature photography. When one moves up from there to larger APS-C sensor DSLR’s you are looking at more money and bulk which may limit their appeal on long hikes. In the world of DSLR’s just about any lens similar to the Canon 18-135 mm will allow you to focus close enough to get a reasonably good shot. Longer lenses such as the Tamron 100-400 mm (more money still) will allow you to focus on subjects that won’t let you get close enough with a shorter lens. With it’s close focus capability perhaps the best all round bird/bug nature camera setup I’ve seen is the micro four thirds Panasonic G7 with the 100-400 mm Panasonic/Leica lens that my wife uses. It employs an excellent but smaller sensor than my Canon APS-C which is part of the reason for it’s admirable close focus performance. That being said I’m sure there are excellent camera setups that I’ve not had experience with.

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Unless stated otherwise the below pictures have all been taken close to home at Griggs Reservoir Park so the adventure doesn’t necessarily mean hours of driving to some exotic location. Almost all insect images have been significantly cropped.

(click on the image for a better view)

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A Bumble Bee enjoys Foxglove Beardtongue.

An nice illustration of the difference in size between a sweat bee and bumble bee, (Donna).

If you think this is an innocent little Bumble Bee you would be wrong in fact it’s a Bumble Bee Mimic Robber Fly no less ferocious than the one below, (Donna).

A more typical looking robber fly a little over an inch long. If you’re a small insect it will be a bad day if you run into one of these, (Donna).

Four lined Plant Bug, (Donna).

Eight-spotted Forester Moth, (Donna).

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Thimbleweed.

Moth Mullein, (Donna).

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A very small but beautiful Long-legged Fly.

It’s a rough world for bugs. A long legged fly falls prey to a robber fly.

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Water Willow at waters edge. Deer are known to browse the leaves and beaver and muskrat will consume the plant rhizomes. The submerged portion is home to many micro and macro invertebrates, (Donna).

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Little Wood Satyr.

Painted Lady, one of the most common butterflies found on every continent accept Antarctica and Australia, their favorite food plant on which to lay their eggs is thistle, they do not overwinter and they can have long migrations up to 9,320 miles long, (Donna)

Hackberry Emperor, a butterfly not usually seen on flowers but on a warm day may land on exposed skin, (Donna).

Question Mark, (Donna).

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Silver-spotted Skipper, one of the larger skippers, (Donna)

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The beautiful flowers of the Milkweed. A very import plant for many insects most notably the Monarch Butterfly.

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Milkweed Beetles, (Donna).

Great Golden Digger Wasp, (Donna).

Perhaps some type of wood wasp, (Donna).

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Black-eyed Susan’s.

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Golden-backed Snipe Fly, they can be found throughout Ohio, and are most often observed resting on low vegetation. They appear in the late spring and early summer, and have been observed mating in late May and early June, although timing likely varies across their range. Little is known about their life cycle.

Small hoverflies on fleabane.

Hoverfly profile.

Two Marked Tree Hopper. Click here to learn more about this fascinating insect.

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Common Mullein.

Northern Catalpa.

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Syrphid Fly Yellowjacket Mimic. The syrphid fly often mimics wasps or bees to gain protection from predators, (Donna).

The Green Bottle Fly is usually observed around less savory food items.

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Black-eyed Susan’s, (Donna).

Depford Pink, (Donna).

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Mating Candy-striped Leafhoppers, (Donna).

Mirid Plant Bug, (Donna).

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Butterfly Weed.

A field of clover.

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A Mayfly falls prey to a jumping spider. Normally slow moving jumping spiders are capable of very agile jumps, when hunting, in response to sudden threats, or to navigate obstacles. They all have four pairs of eyes, with the pair positioned closer together being larger.

Another view, (Donna).

A small moth on Canada Thistle.

If it’s real lucky this Orange Dog caterpillar may become a Giant Swallowtail.

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A field of fleabane.

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A rarely seen Orange Bluet, (Donna).

Female Twelve-spotted Skimmer, (Donna).

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Hairy Wild Petunia.

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It’s hard to believe what’s out there in that small incredible world that goes largely unnoticed by most as we pursue our daily lives. In the hierarchy of human affection warm cuddly animals seem to be at the top with insects being at the other end of the spectrum and usually not considered a welcome intrusion. But as with most things the more you know and understand the more you grow to love.

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A casual glance will not do. To discover wonder and beauty one must look closely with intention.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Contrasts and Abundance

This spring I’ve been struck by a couple of things. First, how we visually perceive some plants and animals to be very beautiful and others pretty ugly  if not repugnant. It certainly seems as though our brains are hardwired to discriminate, certainly not a new idea. In our distant past, were attractive things usually better to eat? Probably not. In many cases it may just be the subconscious association with attractive or repugnant things closer to home. Theories abound! As a result of many hours spent tromping through the woods I’ve developed an interest in lichens and fungi. However, I’d be the first to admit that most of the time their beauty doesn’t come close to that of even an average wildflower.

Secondly, along with Ohio’s biodiversity, which has always been a fascination, I’m in awe when I think about the sheer amount of life that comes into being every spring and summer in our northern latitudes. Forget about animals and insects for a moment and just think about everything else. Not too long ago while walking through some very lush spring woods, undoubtedly made more so by recent heavy rains, fresh translucent green was everywhere. We were in a completely different place than that which existed just a few weeks earlier when trees were bare and the ground largely devoid of life. What would we find if we could weigh the woods before and after? Interesting to think about. Pursuing this thought, and equally fascinating, is the amount of water that takes up residence in green living things this time of year and how that interacts with the rest of our environment.

So below are pictures taken around our yard and during recent walks along Griggs Reservoir. A celebration of that life, some beautiful and some not so much.

A Flicker keeps it’s distance:

Flicker 3460

Northern Flicker being elusive.

Flicker 3443

Northern Flicker a little closer in better light.

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A heron gets a mid-morning snack:

Great Blue 1 3471

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue 2 053014 Griggs cp1

Is it a hit or a miss? (Donna)

Great Blue 4 053014 Griggs cp1

Success! A bite size snack. Is that heron swimming? (Donna)

Great Blue 8 053014 Griggs cp1

Drying off. (Donna)

Great Blue 6 053014 Griggs cp1

Maybe they’re bigger on the other side of the reservoir. (Donna)

Great Blue 9 053014 Griggs cp1

Just enough energy in that snack for a flight across the lake. (Donna)

Great Blue 10 053014 Griggs cp1

Graceful! (Donna)

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Map Turtles and Red-eared Sliders take advantage of the morning sun.

Red-eared Sliders 3440

Red-eared Slider island.

Map Turtles 3439

Map Turtles enjoying the sun.

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I’m not sure even a mother could love this little guy:

Dead Man's Finger's 6721

Dead Man’s Finger’s

Flowering Dead Mans Finger's but not sure 6715

Could be the flowering portion of Dead Man’s Fingers but not sure

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This common lichen is a little easier on the eyes:

Candelaria concolor 6713

Candelaria concolor

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Fortunately we could take refuge in other sights:

Early Meadow Rue 3459

Early Meadow Rue

Common Foxglove 3449

Common Foxglove

Canada Anemone 3462

Canada Anemone

Red Clover 3447

Red Clover

Spring Azure 3456

Spring Azure, a very small butterfly.

View along the shore:

Cove Reflections 1 053014 Griggs fix

Griggs Reservoir cove, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Photos by Donna

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