Readers’ wildlife photos

January 5, 2022 • 8:30 am

Thanks to those who sent in photos when I importuned the readers. There will always be a need for more. . .

Today’s batch comes from regular Mark Sturtevant, who provides the IDs and narrative. You can enlarge Mark’s photos by clicking on them.

These pictures were taken a couple summers ago in area parks in Michigan, which is where I live.

To begin, can readers spot the moth in this picture? You may have to enlarge the photo to help find it, but it is in plain sight. Only please do not give away the location! Let others have fun trying to find it. A different picture of the same moth is farther down.

Next is a pair of young Promethea moth larvae (Callosamia promethea). I’ve been finding good numbers of these giant silk moth caterpillars, although the youngsters shown here were only about the size of rice grains. If they survive, they will grow into large and strikingly beautiful caterpillars, and the adults are one of our largest moths. You can see pictures of these stages at the link.

Next are some damselflies. Damselflies that are called “bluets” belong to a few very large genera of narrow-winged damselflies, but not all bluets are blue, and not all blue damselflies are bluets. So when I take a picture of a narrow-winged damselfly, I usually don’t know if it’s a bluet or something else until after a long struggle with various field guides. Fortunately, I have an online friend who is quite good at these things, and he has helped me out a lot. So… this first one is the taiga bluet (Coenagrion resolutum), and at least it is sort of blue.

Following that is a blue-ringed dancer (Argia sedula), which is not a bluet even though it looks like it should be. Narrow-winged damselflies are tricky!

Next up is a stilt-legged fly (Rainieria antennaepes). These are always entertaining to watch as they march up and down on their leaf (they are reluctant to leave it), waving their cute little white feet out in front of them. This display is thought to signal to their kind, and maybe to also mimic the various ichneumon wasps that have white banded antennae. I always get a kick out of just watching these flies.

This other fly is one of our marsh fliesEuthycera arcuata. I don’t see this species very often, so I was very glad to find one that stuck around for pictures. A thing I’d recently learned about marsh flies is that their larvae prey on snails.

The katydid nymph shown in the next picture is a round-headed katydid (Amblycorypha sp.). These don’t occur in my area, but about two hours’ drive south of me they become pretty common along woodland trails. I will have pictures of adults to show later. These large and beautiful insects are distinctly chill about being approached and closely photographed.

Next is a lean looking male harvestmanLeiobunum calcar, and the picture is a stack from a few hand held pictures. Photography for focus stacking does not always need to be a fussy procedure with lots of pictures and perfect stillness. One can just try to hold still, and move the focus ring on the lens a smidge for each picture. If there are some artifacts from parallax shifts (there certainly was with this one), then that often can be fixed later in Photoshop or whatever.

And finally, where is the same moth shown in the first picture, although this picture is definitely “over-cooked” in post-processing. It is a walnut sphinx mothAmorpha juglandis. I would have never seen it on the forest floor, which is where I found it, except that it was moving!

Thanks for looking! 

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I like the stilt-legged fly. We have a quite similar species in Switzerland (Rainieria calceata) and its white forefeet always remind me of the tale of the wolf who dipped his paw in flour to deceive (and eat) the kids. “Montrer patte blanche” became an usual expression meaning “to show your credentials”.

  2. Always a pleasure to see your photos! Sphinx moths are a particular favorite of mine. I always get a little thrill when I see one in action!

  3. I love seeing the damselflies. These are such wonderful photos as always!
    The blue ringed dancer is so elegant.
    Thank you!

  4. Wonderful images Mark. Always a joy and nice to see flies getting some love. Underrated macro subjects IMHO

  5. Always a treat Mark, thanks. All the photos were spectacular, as always, but I especially enjoyed the katydid “looking into the abyss”. Even insects can be anthropomorphized…I’ve always enjoyed that fallacy.

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