Readers’ wildlife photos

June 9, 2023 • 8:15 am

Mark Sturtevant has rescued us from a day with no wildlife photos (I have about four batches left and will have to do this only sporadically if I run out). PLEASE send in your good photos.

Mark’s IDs and notes are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Here are pictures from the previous summer. The pictures were taken generally in May, near where I live in eastern Michigan.

First up is a lettered sphinxDeidamia inscriptum. The larvae will feed on wild grape and Virginia creeper:

European pine sawfly larvae, Neodiprion sertifer. These were accidentally introduced into the U.S. in the early 1900s, and they feed, en masse, on several species of pines. I regularly see them by the thousands in some areas. This group of early-season youngsters are in a defensive posture where they are ready to collectively spit toxic chemicals if necessary:

Next is a flower chafer beetleTrichiotinus sp. I always find them on white flowers. Always:

I have been using my 2.5-5x Venus/Laowa super macro lens to try to get facial portraits of arthropods. The next picture is an early effort. This bizarre spider is a female long-jawed orb weaverTetragnathaelongata, and they are super common near water. People recreating on rivers and lakes may learn to hate them for their scary jaws and habit of dropping in on you from where they concentrate near shore. But they really are as benign as ladybugs, and their long jaws are used as forceps to delicately pluck small flying insects from their webs. Getting this manually focused stacked picture took a lot of work since these spiders can pretty much fly. By that I mean they will run away, clamber up high, and stand on their head to send away delicate silk draglines into the air currents. As soon as they get a tether on something across the room, they secure the near end and off they go – a flying Wallenda on a tightrope. I had to chase after this one dozens of times to return it to its perch, and so this picture required a determined sense of humor. Right now I am fixing to exhaust myself again with a male spider, simply because they have an even more gnarly face:

Late last summer I had collected several egg cases (oöthecae) of one of our largest insects, the Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis). The plan was to photograph them while hatching, as that is quite a sight. Over and over, the oöthecae would hatch in the pre-dawn hours and I would miss the whole thing. But one batch was slower and I managed to get something of it as shown in the next two pictures. The babies all wiggle out while wrapped in a tight membrane. They will later break free of that, and soon they are moving around:

And here is a youngster that is about the size of a mosquito posing on a tiny mushroom. I released all of them in a field near home:

Finally, here is a fuzzy bumble bee bum. It is a small internet meme to get pictures of bees deep in a flower, with their cute little butts sticking out, and here I finally got one! I am not sure about the species:

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful photos (as always)! I have to admit, those hatching mantises look quite reminiscent of the xenomorphs from the Alien movies…and, of course, adult mantises are certainly as fearsome in their realm.

  2. Just incredible photographs. That is quite a face on the Tetragnathaelongata. Not a good look.
    Thank you!

  3. Astounding detail! The facial portrait was worth it in my opinion, would love to see the male when you get him.

  4. Your submissions never disappoint, thanks!
    I once had a mantis egg case hatch in an apartment; it was sitting on an aquarium light for warmth and one day I noticed baby mantises all over the aquarium and floating in the water! I was frantically trying to catch the buggers and place them outside; I got most of them, and then discovered that where I was putting them was next to a red ant nest, and the ants were busily attacking the mantises and bringing them to their nest. For the next few weeks, I would find mantises crawling around the apartment. I would place these ones outside, far from the ant nest.

  5. Echoing the comments above, the photos are excellent, and the flying long-jawed spider will haunt my nightmares 🙂

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