Readers’ wildlife photos

March 7, 2017 • 7:30 am

This is the 16,000th post I’ve put up since this website started in 2009. Next landmark: getting 50,000 subscribers!

I am posting part 2 of reader Loren Russell’s photos of insects he found on the snow in a hike in Oregon. Part 1 was posted yesterday with this introduction:

A new camera and an email from a friend in Montana prodded me to combine two of my old pleasures — insect hunting and cross country skiing.  The pictures attached are from three recent forays to the snow-covered meadows and noble fir forest”

He’s added this (The information given for each photo was what was supplied; I’ve asked for more data.)

I had to bite my tongue to avoid going full monolog on my text.  Marys Peak is a wonderful place for odd arthropods — It has a mandibulate moth, semi-terrestrial dragonfly larva, a fully terrestrial caddis-fly larva, and much more. Back to the snow, there is a very elusive grylloblattid [ice-crawler]  — in fifty years no one has obtained an adult male to complete its ID.  I got a tip for the ice-crickets from a another skier, who has seen them foraging on the snow at night.
Years ago, I found ice-worms [Mesoenchytraeus sp.] — like the insects, heavily pigmented and coming to the surface as the snow becomes granular.
H. brevicaudus:

H. brevicaudus (male):

Hydrobius (a beetle):

Leiodid (a beetle):

Mating (what are these?)

Omalorphanus (a beetle):

Trichocera (a winter crane fly):


Nicole Reggia sent a photo of the Moon taken on Sunday night, and included a helpful guide to the visible craters. Her notes are indented:

Moon: First Quarter. Illumination : 50%.

Selenography is the study of the surface of the moon. Craters were first named by Jesuit astronomers (Grimaldi & Riccioli) in 1651. The same guide is used today. I’ve included a map to go with my pictures.





22 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Again, fascinating. Bugs in the snow. I have no idea what I am talking about, but the unidentified mating insects look like mosquitoes. Or something closely related?

    Nice to see some more astronomical pics. I’ve been meaning, for years now, to try my hand at imaging the moon, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, etc., through my telescope, but haven’t figured out how to do it without spending a good bit of money.

    1. Yes – I would have said fungus gnats but they mate tail to tail facing away from each other (they live in flower pots by my desk) but I cannot see the antennae?

      love the moon pics too.

      Thanks both for sharing…

    1. Depends on how much you want to spend. A good point and shoot that has some capabilities in that direction can go over $300, but they cannot be expanded. They are still a lot of fun, and are very versatile. Another route are mirrorless or SLR cameras that let you put on longer lenses. These are expandable, but cost more.

    2. Patrick, a lot of it depends on what it is you are trying to achieve. For the most part, one should be happy with a Canon sx50HS (no longer made-but readily available used). The new Canon sx60hs is not supposed to be quite as good. Nikon makes a similar model, but is quite a bit more expensive. No one that has that camera that I know, is unhappy with it. That being said, if you are primarily a photographer and will be looking to “pixel pick”, you won’t be happy until you spend (well the sky is the limit)thousands on a Canon (or Nikon) dslr and tele (400mm or up) lens. There are mirrorless choices as well, some that have adapters for sale that allow you to use an array of their lenses. The quality is not yet up to the dslr and tele level, but that may soon (a few years) be changing. I think that the Canon sx50hs is a choice that most would not be unhappy with and they would always have it (good for travel) even if you graduate to a dslr and telephoto lens(es). Good luck.

      1. I totally agree.
        I have a Canon DSLR and expensive lenses. Instead of going to a more expensive macro lens, requiring ring lights and awkward poses in the field, I got the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and have never been happier. I can use the LCD screen or the viewfinder, I can skew it about for those awful places that bugs like to be, the resolution is great, color is awesome, and it is so portable (I have damaged the DSLR so frequently in the woods). I carry an inexpensive speedlite with me, though (interchangeable with the DSLR) and it helps a lot, especially for night mothing. I see now on Amazon that they are now less than half the price that I paid. Sigh.

  2. I never heard of selenography –

    “Ancient Greek σελήνη ‎(selḗnē, “moon”). So called because of its chemical analogy to tellurium (from Latin tellus the earth).”

    And now I feel complete.

    Any camera hardware notes?

    Thanks RWP contributors – I have them stacked up.

  3. Great pics, and it’s lovely to see another pic of the moon. Cute map!

    You science-y people probably wouldn’t describe them like this – heck, you probably don’t even see it! – but beetles have the creepiest legs. Any god that would invent those would have to be malevolent, and clearly has no love for mankind!

  4. I’d love to know the elevation, temps, anything else on where these were found. I’ve found snow fleas and snowflies here (northeast Vermont), but nothing else in the winter. And those were only when temps got up into the 30s, in full sun, near a building. I can’t get to the cliffs through the snow to see if bugs show up there on the same days (would rocks in sun attract bugs like a warmer building?). Fascinating diversity there and great shots.

    1. The summit of Marys Peak is 4000 feet [highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range], and these insects are mostly in the open forest and meadow-edge above 3000 feet. Snow cover is possible from late October to early May, and I can see the meadow area from town. There’s a weather station at the summit, so I can also check the temperature before I set out.

      Best conditions for insects on the surface occur in mild [mid-30s F] overcast weather a few days after snowfall — as the snow metamorphoses.

  5. As I was reading this, I was realizing: Ooh, Grylloblattids!! These are an enigmatic insect order; related to walking sticks, mantises, and roaches (but in a unique order, different from those). Years ago a group of graduate students in my old entomology department had gone to a big entomology meeting in Las Vegas, and on a whim they rented a car and drove into the mountains somewhere from there, in the winter, with the express purpose of finding some ‘Gryllos’ in a location where they are known to occur. They actually succeeded, and brought several live ones back to display proudly in our departmental office. It drew quite a crowd.

    1. They make great pets, if you have room in your refrigerator. I kept one female [from a site about 30miles north of Marys Peak] for about 18 months at around 48 degrees F. She did nicely on chicken breast and canned cat foot.

  6. The first two pictures are of another strange insect, winter scorpionflies, aka snow scorpionfies (family Boreidae). These are related to the more conventional scorpionflies (family Panorpidae). This is a good find! I would love to see me some of those!

    1. Thanks, Mark

      I’ve been studying boreids off and on for 40 years and they still fascinate me.

      Just a note– boreids are probably much more closely related to fleas than they are to panorpids and other ‘conventional’ Mecoptera. Among a long list of characters linking them with fleas is the characteristic hop, in both cases executed via resilin in what was once the wing hinge.

  7. The flies mating are Phoridae. The nematoceran named “Trichocera” is actually a Cecidomyiidae. 🙂

  8. Both pix of the chunky leiodid beetle are Hydnobius [not Hygrobius] matthewsii.

    Hydnobius are winter-active, probably feeding on subterranean fungi [“false truffles”]. Other members of the modestly diverse Leiodidae are nest inquilines of mammals [including one ectoparasite, Platypsylla castoris] and social insects, feed on slime molds, and notably have radiated as troglobites.

  9. If he wants to photograph Box Elder bugs (true bugs) on snow, he is welcome to come over to my place outside Eugene where they congregate by the thousands

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