Readers’ wildlife photos

November 18, 2023 • 8:30 am

Today’s wildlife contribution comes from regular Mark Sturtevant, whose notes and IDs are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

I’ve left in Mark’s intro about duck sites in case any of you are waterfowl fans.

While I am here, I would like to mention something about ducks. There is the Tetrapod Zoology blog, which i believe is run by Daren Naish ( — but then click on the Blog tab. You may already know about this, bu the man likes ducks! There are now two  articles about some interesting species and they are here and here. I know you will like them, especially if you have not seen the articles already.

OK, the post with critter pictures follows. Enjoy!


Here are more insect pictures. All were taken about a year ago from near where I live in eastern Michigan, and it later includes an especially weird bug that I had not shown here before.

First, here is a Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris). Getting pictures of these is hit or miss, since they quickly scatter when one approaches. But there is maybe a 50% chance that they will wander back and consider you to be part of the scenery, and then they might get quite close. The sandy ground had a very vivid color in this location, so I used a layer mask to selectively tone that down. This species has a number of color variants, as shown in the link.

Next up is an interesting caterpillar that was on our deck furniture. Note that it adds to its excellent camouflage by having a fleshy fringe to conceal its shadow. My preliminary ID was completely wrong, but I share pictures in different places and in one of them a friend identified it as the larva of one of our Underwing Moths, Catocala sp. These familiar moths are also patterned to look like tree bark, but they generally have flashy hind wings which are visible only while in flight. It is believed that this is meant to deceive predators since they would see it as a brightly colored moth. But if they searched where it landed, they could overlook the moth because when at rest it blends in with tree bark.

Next up is one of those super-duper common moths that everyone sees all the time when walking across a lawn. They are the “grass veneer” moths, and I’d never bothered to photograph one. But of course that was wrong, and I really like this picture! This particular species is the Bluegrass Webworm MothParapediasia teterrellus.

The ornamentals in our yard seem to exist in order to feed Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) like the one shown in the next picture. This invasive species arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s, and  spread rapidly because of its ability to feed on hundreds of host plant species. I remember wondering as a kid if I would ever see one, but now I’ve had quite enough of them.

The moth shown in the next picture is the Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth (Darapsa myron). The larvae feed on Virginia Creeper and on grape.

I have certainly shown the next insect before. This is the Wasp MantidflyClimaciella brunnea, a Neuropteran that mimics a Paper Wasp and has a complex biology as explained at the link They are not common, but I generally manage to find at least one every summer since I go out so often. Although this insect is strange in several ways, I don’t think of it as the weirdest one in this set.

Last summer we were visiting my oldest son in a nearby town, and of course I had to stalk around the yard to look for critters. There was a weird fly on a bush, shown in the final pictures, and I was fairly blown away to find it. This is called a Small-Headed Fly for very obvious reasons (the head is the pimple on the lower right). I’ve never seen one, so of course it had to come home with us for pictures. Photographing this thing turned out to be very easy since it would scarcely move. The particular species is Pterodontia flavipes, and for scale it’s about the size of a kidney bean.

You can see a distinct tooth on the wing margin, and that identifies this as a male although I don’t know what the tooth is for. The compound eyes in both sexes are extremely holoptic – meaning that they are joined together. One sees this in other flies, but here the entire head is nearly a single compound eye!

Flies in this family (Acroceridae) are not common. Their life cycle is of some note in that they are parasitic on spiders. Eggs are scattered in large numbers, and the active larvae must find a suitable spider host and penetrate it.

I put pictures of this fly into the BugGuide web site since they had no records of this species in Michigan.

Thank you for looking!

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. What phenomenal photos! Thank you for making my day!
    I am particularly fascinated by the camouflage abilities of the various moths above.

  2. Sorry I missed this on the day. Remarkable photos as always but that small headed fly take the cake. I love this family but my local ones don’t have such an extraordinary eye merger

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