Readers’ wildlife photos

March 19, 2020 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from reader Mark Sturtevant, whose words are indented (note the hint to “embiggen”):

Here are more summer pictures of arthropods. Clicking to “embiggen” is generally recommended.

The first two pictures are of a large female walking stickDiapheromera femorata. In the first picture I tried to blur the background, and I think it turned out ok. This particular walking stick is the same one I had used a while ago here in a “Spot the Walking Stick” post.

It seems appropriate to follow with the next insect. This may resemble a walking stick, but actually it is a thread-legged assassin bug (Emesaya brevipennis). I well remember the surge of amazement when I turned up a leaf and there it was, with a body nearly two inches long and with its raptorial forelimbs stretched out in front. It then set out walking with surprising sure-footedness over the branches with those impossibly long legs. It was hard to get an acceptable picture!

The insect shown in the next picture is fairly despised. This is a mid-stage nymph of the marmorated stink bugHalyomorpha halys, which is an invasive species in the U.S. They can gather in significant numbers around houses late in the summer, and home-owners see them indoors all winter long. But just look at this “teenager”! It must be admitted that the youngsters are temporarily adorable. In it I see a kind of fusion between glam rock and punk rock.

Next is the tiny ant-mimicking jumping spiderSynemosyna formica. These are fairly common on the undersides of leaves in forests. Recently Jerry had mentioned that ant mimicry is given its own specialized name: “myrmecomorphy”. Readers can pick out several clever details here where the spider is a myrmecomorph.

Another woodland find absolutely surprised me. This beautiful caterpillar is the larva of the funerary dagger moth (Acronicta funeralis), which is considered uncommon (or seldom seen, anyway), so I am very happy to have found it.

Sometimes really nice finds are in ones’ perfectly ordinary back yard. The mayfly shown in the next two pictures was in our garden (had to run for the camera!), and it is one of those ‘crazy-eyed’ males from the family Baetidae. Males in this family have these bizarre split compound eyes, and the upward-facing eyes are thought to be used to find females while flying at night. I think the genus might be Callibaetis.

Toward the end, now. The damselfly in the next picture is a blue-fronted dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis). A common damselfly along wooded trails, though most fly from me when I approach.

The last picture is to show who was watching me while I was watching the damselfly. This is a least chipmunk (Tamias minimus) I must have looked suspicious.

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Fantastic set. I especially like that second photo of the face on the mayfly. Remarkable photos. Thanks!

  2. Great pictures, Mark! I always enjoy your insects.
    Do you mind telling us what equipment you use for your macrophotography?

    1. Well, that is one of my favorite things to do! So…
      For these I would use the Canon t5i body. This is an old and so inexpensive ‘consumer grade’ crop sensor body. The lens for close up images are the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens, and for super-close ups I attach a Raynox 150 diopter to that lens. For more distant shots (the damselfly and sqrrl) I likely used the Canon 100-400mm mark ii. Flash is the wonky Laowa twin flash with home-made diffusers.
      One could go on…

  3. I’ve learned more about insects during these shows than I ever expected. Thank you. Great pictures. I would love to see the funerary moth. Its caterpillar is so interesting.

  4. Which is my favorite?… I ask myself. Can’t decide. All superb. I’m surprised the ant mimic spider has transparent legs. It would look even more ant-like with dark legs, wouldn’t it?

  5. Terrific arthropod shots Mark, and I loved the chipmunk as well. Looks like that mayfly lost a leg somewhere. Ouch!

  6. Great pix! But 3 questions: Where were they taken? (Every naturalist wants to know where things live.) Is the “crazy-eyed” male mayfly missing his right front leg? And are you sure it’s a least, and not eastern, chipmunk? Looks like the stripes don’t reach the tail.


  7. Wonderful. Can’t pick a favourite. I’m glad to see you are also graced with ant-mimicking jumping spiders. They are one of my favourite groups

  8. Lovely photos. My chipmunks have emerged from their burrows this week, looking sleek and healthy. I’ve read that a chipmunk stores 8lb of food to last it through the winter, so those burrows must be extensive!

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