Readers’ wildlife photos

February 15, 2023 • 8:15 am

Thank Ceiling Cat, for readers have responded by sending in several batches of new wildlife photos. Today’s is from regular contributor Mark Sturtevant, who loves his arthropods. Here are photos of some, along with two mushroom photos (click all to enlarge); Mark’s notes are indented:

Here are more pictures of mostly local arthropods from two summers ago. The photographs were taken from area parks where I live in eastern Michigan. Many pictures are manual focus stacks to increase depth of focus.

The spiders shown in the first pictures are different species of sac spiders. These are small wandering spiders. The first is the long-legged sac spider (Cheiracanthium sp.), a common year-long resident in houses. They are a welcome sight on our walls during the long winters here, although I have learned in preparing this that their venom can cause necrotic effects in humans:

The second species is the broad-faced sac spiderTrachelas tranquillus. I don’t see these in houses, but they commonly turn up in bushes near the house. Their bite can also result in complications:

The spiders shown in the next pictures are in the nursery web spider family, so-named because females tend to their hatchlings in a web “nursery” on top of plants. The first is pretty much our largest spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus. You can have a gander at the linked picture to learn that these are indeed spiders of impressive size:

The second species is a smaller kind of nursery web spider called Pisaurina mira. It took a lot of experimentation with camera settings to combine flash and ambient light to preserve the glow of sunlight through the leaf:

The next picture shows a handsome male Pike slender jumping spider Marpissa pikei. I can sometimes get them by using a sweep net in tall grasses. These elongate jumping spiders are a delight to work with because unlike most jumping spiders they are willing to sit still for me so long as they can align themselves on a blade of grass:

The grasshopper nymph shown next was also picked up in a sweep net. This is the northern green-striped grasshopper (Chortophaga viridifasciata) that I posed on my straw hat for pictures:

This is a predatory robber fly. I can’t get the ID on this small one, and that will be the case for some of the other pictures below (sorry!):

Next is a rather strange caterpillar that I also have not been able to identify. It looks like an inchworm, but actually caterpillars from different families also have this look.

The cryptically shaped moth shown next is definitely known to me. This is a common looper mothAutographa precationis, that turned up at a porch light one evening:

The last pictures are of mushrooms (species unknown), and they were taken with the inexpensive Opteka wide-angle macro lens. I always carry that lens around when I’m out with the cameras in case scenes like these turn up. The pictures are assembled from two or more pictures taken at different flash powers and shutter speeds to either expose for the foreground or the background. The different pictures were then blended together thru layer masks. A thing that is rather strange about wide angle macro lenses is that although it does not look like it, the subjects are less than an inch away from the lens:

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. True flies lack hind wings, and instead they have balancing organs called halteres. These ‘flap’ when the insect is flying, and they act as a kind of gyroscope for stability and nimbleness.

  1. I have always wondered about the identity of the small tan spiders that live around my house, mostly where the walls and ceilings meet, but I’ve never really tried to figure it out. I think you might have answered it for me with your Cheiracanthium picture. I’ll have to take a closer look now.

  2. It’s always great to see photos from Mark S, and these are no exceptions! I particularly love the spiders, of course, but they’re all great.

    Was anyone else reminded of the ROUS (Rodents of Unusual Size) from The Princess Bride upon reading the words “spider of impressive size”?

  3. Thank you Mark! If I ever get over my arachnophobia, it will be thanks to your magnificent pictures, which illuminate a beauty that is hard to appreciate when one’s amygdala is firing wildly 🙂

  4. Seriously well-done. That robber-fly is off the hook. Wha? I’d be very stoked if I took that photo. Thanks, as always.

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