Readers’ wildlife photos

May 4, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today’s batch of photos comes from regular reader and photo-provider Mark Sturtevant, who notes, “This batch is unusual in that it includes a vertebrate.”  Mark’s notes and IDs are indented (the links are also his), and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Here are more wildlife pictures that were taken a couple summers ago, all in the general vicinity of where I live in Michigan.

One of the locally unique kinds of insects that can be found in what I call the Magic Field is the oil blister beetle (Meloe sp.). I don’t think it a stretch to say that they have one of the strangest reproductive biologies in the animal kingdom, as summarized here.  The individual shown below is a male, and I have just learned at this writing that their specialized antennae are used to clasp the female antennae during mating. The second picture was taken with my wide-angle macro lens.

Next up are a couple staged pictures of a brown lacewing, possibly Micromus posticus, which came to the porch light one evening. A trick well known in the hobby is that membranous wings can give a nice iridescent effect if you photograph them against a dark background.

Here is a thread-legged bug, Emesaya brevipennis, which also came to the porch light. These large-ish walking stick-like predatory Hemipterans have incredibly long rear legs, as can be seen in the linked picture. When sitting still, they eventually take on this pose where their mantis-like fore-legs are positioned as shown.

Next up is a staged photograph of a helmeted treehopper, Glossonotus acuminatus. I don’t see this species in my immediate area, but they are common a couple hours south of me.

Next up is a monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, sleeping in a cherry tree at a local park. Taken very late in the season, this one was perhaps on its southward migration.

Lastly, I have a cherry tree in the yard, and here is an Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus),having a nibble from some of the old fruits as fall and winter began to set in. It was definitely suspicious of me.

I decided to have the AI art generator Dall-E 2 produce some different interpretations of that last picture, and here are some results. All I did was drop the picture in, and these came out. I don’t know how it seems to know what it’s looking at.

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. O my d*g those AI-transformed photos are remarkable!!!! Now we’ll have to deal with this in nature photography as well as on student essays and internet articles..

    1. I have been playing with the art generator quite a bit. What is odd is that it at once produces amazing results, with an ability to reproduce whatever art style you like. But then it consistently messes up on things like faces and hands. Other people seem capable of getting it to do better, but maybe they have to give it specific instructions.

  2. The insects are amazing! Love them. I once was a teaching fellow for a course called The Biology of Arthropods (in 1979). I learned so much about these amazing creatures and I loved teaching the laboratory for the subject. The professor in charge of the course was Robert E. (Bob) Silberglied, who tragically died in the 1982 Air Florida flight 90 crash. He was a world-renowned Lepidopterist and was only 36. He was a brilliant and kind person whose smile and enthusiasm I still miss.

  3. Very exciting and wonderful photos! That brown lacewing is incredible.
    A delightful bunch. Thanks!

  4. Love the exquisite details of the beetle’s wicked antennae, the lacewing’s shimmer and the hopper’s helmet. AI could never invent those, could it??

  5. Lovely macros…All your macro wide-angle lens photos that I’ve seen are amazing. Hopefully this Summer will give you a lot of arthropod photographic opportunities. Haven’t heard of Dall-E 2. Interesting, though I don’t think it’s an improvement of the original, esp. since that small frown is adorable.

  6. Nice work, Mark. You mention a wide-angle macro lens….which one are you using? What camera body are you using? I’ve been photographing tree frogs the last couple years and I was using a 105 macro lens on a full frame Nikon body, but lately I’ve been using a 12-40mm wide angle zoom on a micro 4/3 body. With frogs, the .3x magnification is plenty, especially on a micro 4/3 sensor and I like the added depth of field without having to stop down to f/22.

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