Readers’ wildlife photos

October 14, 2019 • 7:45 am

We have two contributors today, the first being naturalist/biologist/photographer/artist Lou Jost, who works at the EcoMinga reserve in Ecuador (as you may recall, Lou wrote the memoriam for nature photographer Andreas Kay, who rediscovered Atelopus coynei, thought to be exinct. Now we hear that Lou and his colleagues have discovered another aposematic frog, and a big one! Lou’s caption:

Many beautiful new species of frogs have been discovered in our reserves, but this discovery took our breath away. One of our reserve caretakers, Darwin Recalde, found it in a bromeliad. I ran into Darwin in the forest shortly after he found it, and took these pictures. After a few hours of carrying the frog, his arm started to tingle and hurt. Those are definitely warning colors!!! This is a new species of the genus Hyloscirtus, a large frog not closely related to the little poison-arrow frogs which also often have bright warning coloration. This individual is the female; the male is mostly yellow. We’re immensely proud of this discovery!

And from Christopher Moss:

This photo was taken in a tearing hurry in heavy rain and through a flyscreen, so it’s grainy. This year among the whitetail deer in the garden we have a pinto-style fawn. This is fairly rare, and is often associated with other birth defects of the spine and limbs. I know the genetics of piebaldism in horses is well understood, but I can’t find anything authoritative about deer. I hope the beast decides to continue life as a village-dweller as it is rather more visible to hunters and coyotes, and the white spots might make it less likely to struck by a vehicle.

This may, however, be simply a case of leucism, and the deer might be okay. It’s in danger because of its color, but I hope it will be okay:



Readers’ wildlife photos

September 15, 2019 • 7:45 am

Although I have a few more batches of wildlife photos to post, I’m running low, and may have to put up photos more sporadically. If you have good photos to send, by all means submit them.

Today we have some diverse photos by regular Mark Sturtevant, whose flickr photo site is here. Mark’s notes are indented.

Here are some photos from about a year ago. Enjoy!

The first picture features a male Phalangid (aka ‘harvest-person’), possibly belonging to the genus Leiobunum. A feature of males is their rather elaborate pedipalps that are used in a precise way to hold on to females during mating. I have pictures of that to show later.

Next are several ‘candy-striped’ leafhoppers (Graphocephala coccinea) that were in my back yard. People are sometimes surprised when seeing pictures of them, but actually these diminutive insects are quite common. Most are red and blue, but some are red and green.

The butterfly in the next two pictures is the red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis). This one was missing most of one of its wings, so I had fun digitally replacing it with the ‘good’ wing. Hard to tell which one it is now.

I had long been curious about these tall, thistle-like weeds that are also shown, so I showed them to my Botanist-wife and she told me the plant is called teasel. This is an invasive species, and now I see it everywhere. I feel conflicted about that since it is interesting in its own right while also being a magnet for insects.

At the shore of a lake I came across a giant swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) that was ‘puddling’ on the wet sand to get nutrients like salt and amino acids. This was a nice surprise since these very large butterflies (the largest in North America) seem to always be flying non-stop. ALL of my other pictures of them are rather blurry as I have never quite figured out how to freeze motion with shutter speed and/or flash.

Next is an odd little moth that I always called an ‘airplane moth’. But the internet does not seem to recognize that name and there it is a plume moth. It looks to be the grape plume mothGeina periscelidactylus.

We seem to be having a ‘run’ on Lepidopterans. The lovely Saturniid moth in the next picture is the tulip-tree silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera). I do recommend that readers double click on this, for she is spectacular. Tulip tree silk moth larvae are almost exclusively found on tulip trees.

The story here is that I had come across a dead and leafless tree that someone had dumped in a local park (no idea why), and it had several pendulous cocoons on it. Most were empty, but two were still occupied. These were brought home to see what might emerge. The first that emerged revealed the identity of the mystery cocoons, but the moth had badly deformed wings. Fortunately, the second was this perfect female! Before she was completely hardened and so unlikely to fly, I managed to get this picture by hanging her in the opening of our garage. From there I could sit back in a chair, with the camera on a tripod, and poke her (gently) with a thin stick to get her to raise her wings before I snapped a picture. She was of course released that evening.

Next are some lace bugs, and the reason for their name is obvious with the winged adult. Different species of these plant-sucking insects are found to favor different host plants. I can get a couple pg different species when sweeping with a net, but without host plant information it would be difficult to identify them to species. Not so for this one, which is found on the leaves of linden trees. This is the ‘linden lacebug’ (Gargaphia tiliae).

In the final picture we have a very young gray tree frogHyla versicolor. Youngsters are green, and many are gray when mature. This little cutie would barely cover a nickel.

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 23, 2018 • 8:00 am

Reader John Riegsecker sent these photos on February 26; his notes are indented:

Saturday I photographed an American Kestrel eating a snake, which got me to thinking about a series of photos I made of a Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) eating a rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa).  I am not an expert on Newt identification, but I’m pretty certain that is correct. I knew that rough-skinned newts were poisonous, so I asked around and did some Googling. The first thing I found was that someone had died from eating one:

The second thing I learned was of an arms race between the newts who kept developing more poison, and garter snakes that ate them developing more resistance to the poison.  The third thing I learned was that the 
potency of the poison varied by location: most potent in the  Willamette Valley of Oregon and decreasing in potency as one goes north.

These photos were taken at Ridgefield, a wildlife reserve in Southern Washington, so it is unclear how poisonous the newt would  be, but there is a good chance that was the duck’s last meal.

When most people see one of these ducks they think it should be called a Ring-billed Duck.  The first photo is of a Drake and shows that, in fact, there really is a ring around the neck.

The other photos show the hen eating the newt.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 17, 2018 • 8:15 am

Today we have some herp photos sent by a new contributor. Let’s have a warm welcome for—Peter Uimonen! His notes are attached:

Here are two photos I took in Big Bend National Park in the summer of 2014. The first is of a Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis). They are not often seen because they are nocturnal. However, I came across this one out and about on a warm summer night.

The second is of a Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus). They are diurnal and quite common in the lowland desert of Big Bend, particularly along the Mule Ears Spring trail (one of my favorite hikes down there). This beautiful male specimen is in an aggressive posture.

Here are two photos from the Osa Peninsula [Costa Rica]; my wife and I are going back down there in June. The first is the helmeted iguana (Corytophanes cristatus). This was a lucky shot in two ways. First, it’s a gorgeous specimen (see the yellow and blue scaling along with the green). Second, they’re cryptic and hard to spot. I was the lucky one to spot it. As I recall even our local guide was impressed.

The second is of two green and black poison dart frogs (Dendrobates auratus) along with a Golfo Dulce poison dart frog (Phyllobates vittatus) below the root buttress. All three were competing for territory along this buttress.

Readers’ wildlife photos (and videos)

December 4, 2017 • 8:00 am

Reader Andree Sanborn (flickr site here, FB page here) sent a series of photos taken by her daughter.  It shows nature red in tooth and mouth, so be warned. Andree’s notes:

My 2nd daughter, Amelia Michaud, is the manager of the Frontier Animal Society in Orleans, VT. She is crazy busy and never posts her nature sightings but has given me permission to do so. While out walking dogs on August 17, 2017, she captured this drama of a Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) eating an American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). I’m so glad she had her phone with her. These may be gruesome sights for some  — just be warned. It is something most of us will never see again. And I swear that in one video you can hear the toad vocalizing (it seems amazingly calm, if one can use that word to describe its state of mind).

And there’s a video playlist of this event (7 short clips), which you can see here. Start with this one and they’ll play sequentially (not in the order of swallowing, though!):

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 18, 2017 • 7:30 am

I am embarrassed today, for I have a nice batch of photos by reader Tom Gula, but I have lost his email and thus can’t contact him for notes. Fortunately, he labeled the photos, so I can at least give some information. Perhaps Tom will see this and write me with further descriptions.  As I recall, these are scans from slides.

Any readers who know the several unidentified species are welcome to comment below.

Io moth (Automeris io), Recife Brazil,

Dead leaf mantis, Recife, Brazil, 1977:

Procopiidae (stick grasshoppers), Recife Brazil, 1978:

Swallowtail caterpillar, Recife Brazil, July 1978:

Clear-winged moth, Recife Brazil, 1979:

Butterflies on carcass, near Igazu Falls, Argentina, 1980:


Caterpillar on bark, Smoky Mountains, 1977:

Mantis feeding on bumblebee, New Jersey, 1977:

New Jersey crab spider, 1977:

Pine Barrens tree frog (Hyla andersonii), 1987:

As I recall, Mike called attention to the bizarre distribution of this species; as Wikipedia notes, “Due to the limited extent of suitable habitats, Hyla andersonii is currently distributed in three disjunct areas in the southeastern United States: the New Jersey Pine Barrens; the Sandhills of North and South Carolina; and the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama. Although one specimen of H. andersonii is known from Georgia, a population is not known to currently exist there.” Here’s the range map:

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 7, 2017 • 7:30 am

We have a passel of photos, scanned from slides, from reader Tom Gula; his notes are indented:

I’ve attached some more wildlife shots of scanned slides. Most are again from Brazil, but I included some U.S. animals this time, mostly from my home state of New Jersey. Once again perhaps some of your knowledgeable readers will provide more information about species identification.
One of the photos posted on June 16 was a spiny caterpillar I found in a remnant of Atlantic coastal rain forest in Pernambuco, Brazil back in 1978. A reader identified it as the larva of an Io moth, genus Automeris. This is an adult Io moth seen in the same location. The spines of the caterpillars are known to cause painful stings, as documented in this video (not mine) taken in Costa Rica.
An unidentified species of praying mantis, a dead leaf mimic probably in the genusAcanthops. The photo was also taken in Pernambuco, Brazil (the Tapacurá Ecological Station), in 1977.
Another insect captured in the Pernambuco forest in 1978, the head of a Neotropical stick grasshopper (also known as a jumping stick) in the family Proscopiidae.
A caterpillar with a false eyespot I found at the Tapacurá Ecological Station in 1978, not sure of the species. The larva of a swallowtail butterfly?
An unidentified clear-winged moth, also from Pernambuco, photographed in 1979.
While walking down a dirt road near the Iguazu Falls (on the Argentina side) in 1980 I came upon the decaying corpse of an unlucky dead rabbit. There are at least a half dozen species of butterflies feeding on the nutrients, particularly salts, sugars, and proteins, in the decomposing body. At least three of the butterflies are the “88 butterfly” in the genus Diaethria, with a black and white striped wing pattern that resembles the number 88.
 The last four photos were taken in the U.S. Here’s an unidentified species of cryptic caterpillar I noticed on the bark of a tree in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1977.
While walking through New Jersey’s Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in 1977 I noticed some movement on a thistle plant, and saw this large Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) feeding on a captured bumblebee.
Also from the New Jersey Great Swamp in 1977, another predator, an unidentified crab spider, waiting for some unsuspecting flying insect to land on these Queen Anne’s lace flowers.
And finally, I photographed this near threatened Pine Barrens tree frog (Hyla andersonii) in 1987 in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Although locally common in some parts of the N.J. pinelands, its populations are threatened by continuing habitat loss. The species has an interesting disjunct distribution (see the map below, from Wikipedia), found only in southern New Jersey, parts of North and South Carolina, and parts of Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 19, 2017 • 7:45 am
Remember to send in your photos, or I’ll run out within a week!  Reader Tim Garrett sent some of his local wildlife, but we should never neglect those plants and animals that live close to humans! Tim’s notes and IDs are indented:
My wildlife photos are mostly of the backyard variety but we have a good mix of native eastern Missouri types. We live just up the bluff from a good size tributary of the Mississippi River named the Meramac River. It actually defines the southern border of St. Louis county. Here are some of my favorite ones:
There was an eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) who lived under some concrete steps. We called him “Chip,” of course.
He would stuff his face with seeds:


We hadn’t seen him since last summer. I think a red tail hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) got him. I don’t have a good picture of culprit yet. The hawk has killed and eaten one of my female cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). Here’s one of the three male Northern Cardinals that hang out in my yard watching the feeder:


The closest thing to a dinosaur walking through my yard is this female wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).


We have some eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) that are occasionally here. They are the state bird of Missouri and are on our car’s license plate:


We have all manner of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) passing through. Here, a female with her two fawns who both decided to get a drink at the same time. The fawns are likely male and female and just losing their camouflage spots:


I think this is a gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor). He and his buddies get very loud in the spring:


We have hummingbirds in the summer. I’m still learning how to photograph them. I think this is a immature male ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). It might be a female?


We have five-lined skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus) all around our property. The immature ones have bright blue tail. This guy was hiding in a basement window well:


Finally, an immature  Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) on my front porch. I love how it’s looking over its shoulder at me. Wikipedia says the praying mantis is the only insect with this extra degree of freedom:


A very cryptic frog

December 30, 2016 • 12:45 pm

From a tw**t by J. Rowley (h/t: Matthew Cobb), we have a very cryptic frog; the caption is “From #Moss to #Frog in a single move. It’s no wonder this species is called the Vietnam Moss Frog (Theloderma corticale)!” Actually, it’s called the “mossy frog”, is semiaquatic, and lives in the primary evergreen forests of Southeast Asia.

To enhance the crypsis, they curl up in a ball, like the one on the left, to hide their froggyness:c04gcijuqaao0ii

A photo from Wikipedia (go to this page to see a lot more):


And from WildFacts:


And here’s a short video: