Readers’ wildlife photos

Please send in your wildlife photos, as the tank is draining and not being replenished very often.

Today we have photos from a regular, Mark Sturtevant, whose words are indented:

These are more pictures of mostly insects from 2018. Clicken to embiggen if you want.

Late in the summer and well into the fall in the Magic Field, the nymphs of my favorite grasshopper begin to appear. This is the coral-winged grasshopper (Pardalaphora apiculata) which is I think the largest grasshopper in my area but is also beautifully camouflaged against the mosses and lichens of this place (see the linked picture). So here are some very young nymphs of this species. They overwinter as juveniles, so many months later one can see active nymphs in the spring after they had broken dormancy.

Another late summer insect in this location is the beautiful Big Sand tiger beetle (Cicindela formosa), as shown in the next two pictures.

Next is a female and male [in that order] American rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina americana).

The praying mantis shown in the next picture is the Chinese praying mantis (Tenodora sinensis). An especially welcome find since the summer had been sadly mantis-less. I wanted to get her into a better position for pictures. Maybe up higher on a plant, with some sky in the background? That sounded good. So I picked her up, fully expecting a vigorous struggle as this large mantis is rather powerful. But this one was not having it. She bit (hard!), clawed, and while I was flailing away like a crazy person she made a very impressive leap for freedom into the bushes and disappeared. So… this is sadly my only picture of a mantis for the summer.

The next pictures summarize a bit of drama at a fishing pond that I regularly visit. On this particular occasion I soon came across a very small parasitic wasp carrying off a leafhopper that it had paralyzed. The wasp was moving very fast and so it was hard to get an acceptable picture. It is a Crabronid wasp called Alysson oppositus.

Anyway, my photographing the above wasp at the shoreline had caused a frog to jump into the water directly in front of me. After a few moments I noticed quite a lot of thrashing in the area where the frog had jumped in, and then some rather large coils of a snake came to the surface near my feet. It was a northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon), and it was eating the frog that had jumped in! The weeds were too thick to get a clear picture of that, but after several minutes the snake began to move away with its meal stored safely inside. See that bulge? That bulge is my fault.

15 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Mark sure has an eye for the little critters!

  2. Debra Coplan
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Phenomenal photos. It’s incredible how much detail you capture.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. mallardbrad
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Just amazing photography!
    Thank You so much for sharing!

  4. Posted May 22, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Great photos!

    Er, what exactly does a mantis bite feel like?

  5. boudiccadylis
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Did this particular praying mantis present more aggressiveness than other types. Are they, p.m. in general, so defensive? I can’t imagine that you, as a bug photographer, would be intentionally harmful to them.

    Usually I can see why something has a name, i.e. “red dot, tiger” but I can’t find any coral on the grasshopper exhibit.

    Thank you for all the photos of the bugs that you have presented. I’ve never been too interested before. I’ve learned a lot from your pictures.

    Actually, I think you should positively credit yourself. That snake needed to eat. That too was an interesting picture.

    • Posted May 22, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Thank you. The mantis was just sitting there, minding her business and unaware of me, when I grasped her at mid-thorax and picked her up. Then all hell broke loose. She was I think more vigorous in her defense than what I had experienced before and I was not expecting that. But I am sure she was ‘in the range of normal’, as I like to say. It was a good lesson for me.
      Common names are inspired by a wide range of factors. Descriptive, location, and some are named after someone. The Chinese mantis is a species that was imported from China to the U.S., and now it is widespread, along with with the giant Asian mantis (different species, and its smaller than the Chinese), European mantis, and even a Japanese mantis (which looks almost exactly like the Chinese). We have our native species, but in my area I never see them. I don’t know why.

    • Posted May 22, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I forgot to add the grasshopper is named after the color of its hind wings, which are shown here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/87421607@N04/26342031128/in/album-72157675383955263/ . When they fly, they are wonderfully flashy. Then they land, fold their wings, and disappear thru camouflage.

  6. rickflick
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    That grasshopper’s compound eye is cut in half by his camo. Top half light, bottom half dark. Now that’s a clever bug.

  7. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the nice pictures!

  8. sugould
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Perhaps mantis was new to the neighborhood, and didn’t know what an honor it was to be photographed professionally?

  9. Jim Swetnam
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    As always Mr. Sturtevant, your insect pictures open up worlds. Life is most beautiful, no?, in all its manifestations. When looking at your pictures, an emotion I often feel is akin to love

  10. nay
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Excellent post – beautiful pictures, compelling stories. Sorry you were bitten, but you really shouldn’t have grabbed her like that! Maybe the bite was punishment for the negligent frog homicide?

  11. phar84
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    It could be viewed that you’ve strengthened the fitness of that species of frog.

    Wonderful pictures as always & thanks for the fill-up.

  12. Posted May 22, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    These are a gorgeous bunch. And of course tiger beetles should count as honorary felids 🙂 Thanks Mark

  13. tjeales
    Posted May 22, 2020 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Just fantastic as always Mark. The grasshopper is particularly fascinating. And how I wish we had some Tiger Beetles locally.


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