Readers’ wildlife photos

July 18, 2023 • 8:15 am

Regular Mark Sturtevant is back with a batch of lovely arthropod photos. Mark’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his pictures by clicking on them.

Here are more pictures of arthropods. Some are from area parks, and others are from my house here in Michigan.

First up is an Antlion larva, Brachynemurus abdominalis. One can find the conical pits that these little beasties make all over what I call the Magic Field. How they use their pit to ensnare passing insects is shown in this video.  Although they are easily extracted with a spoon to be taken home for pictures, actually getting pictures was not that easy since they generally want to scuttle backwards in an attempt to bury themselves. Right now, I am keeping a few larvae in cups of sand and feeding them ants (which is always entertaining), with the aim of later photographing the pupal stage. Antlion pupae are interesting in that they are still ill-tempered and they bite:

I came upon this wasp-mimicking beetle (Necydalis mellita) along a woodland trail. That it is indeed a beetle is proven by its elytra, even though they are very short. I’ve seen these before but could never get a picture because they are alert and flighty (wasp mimics tend to be wasp mimics all the way). But this one allowed a few pictures. It belongs in the longhorn beetle family:

Next up is a Big Sand Tiger Beetle (Cicindela formosa). These lovely but very alert beetles are common around here in sandy areas. Some days, nothing will get you a picture of one, but on this rather cool and overcast day the task was pretty trivial. Tiger beetles used to be in their own family, but now they have been absorbed into the ground beetle family:

Another challenging beetle is shown next. This is a tumbling flower beetleMordella marginata. Tumbling flower beetles belong to their own rather obscure family, and they are normally found on flowers where they eat pollen. There, the least disturbance will cause them to live up to their name as they curl up and fall to the ground:

Next are two grasshoppers because I really like grasshoppers. The first is a ‘hopper nymph of uncertain identity, but it most resembles the Two-striped Grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus.

Following that is the Northern Green-striped GrasshopperChortophaga viridifasciata:

Over the previous summer, I made it a regular habit to scour the front porch in the morning to look for insects that were drawn in overnight by our porch light. Among the more common squatters were these very small Mayflies which I believe to be Callibaetus ferrugineus. First are two females. The close-up picture is focus-stacked with my super macro lens, as are all of the remaining pictures here. She looks pretty strange, as all Mayflies do, but get a load of the male in the next picture.

Here is a male. I still remember my astonishment seeing the first of these! The upward turret-shaped portion of their compound eyes are thought to be used to watch for females:

This set finishes with a couple spiders. First up is a Slender Crab SpiderTibellus sp. These are shaped to stretch out along grass blades:

And finally, here is a Ground Crab SpiderXysticus sp. The super macro lens lets me peer into a new world, but I wasn’t expecting that face to look back from it!:

14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Fascinating, thank you for sharing. Have always been fascinated by antlions and gleefully watching them toss sand to create a little avalanche and bring the ant to dinner.

  2. Yeah, love these – always exquisite – like the coolest sci-fi but it’s real! These have trained my eye to notice details of little critters I see.

  3. The compound eyes of the male mayflies are absolutely amazing! Thank you for showing us details that I doubt I would ever see without Mark’s skill with the camera.

  4. I have never seen anything like these tremendous photos of insects.
    Very bizarre bugs. All the eyes are really fascinating to see up close like this.

  5. Nice! Your arthropod photos are getting better and better. This batch was especially cool. Thanks!

  6. Lovely set as always. The beetles are great and I love mimicry. The close up if the male mayfly is very interesting. I’ll have to look through some of my old photos

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