Readers’ wildlife photos

November 25, 2022 • 8:15 am

We resume our readers’ photos after the Thanksgiving hiatus. Today’s contributor is Rik Gern, who sends photos from Texas and Wisconsin. Rik’s notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

I hope there is something in this collection of pictures that you can use for your readers’ wildlife pictures feature. This is a random collection of photos united by the theme “saved by photoshop”. Each one was an initial frustration because it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the image I had in my mind’s eye, but with the help of heavy editing I hope I was able to turn a bunch of sows’ ears into, if not silk purses, at least serviceable satchels.

The first half come from my neighborhood in south Austin, TX and most of the others are from St. Germain, Wisconsin.

It’s fairly rare that I see a Globular Drop Snail (Helicina orbiculata), but their shells are quite common. The sight of these two shells nestled together put my mind into anthropomorphic overdrive as I imagined the big one protecting and sheltering the smaller one, although both were in fact abandoned shelters.

The Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ellisiana) in the front yard is in a constant state of growth and decay. This one had a dry rot spreading through one of the pads. The glochids look like little puffs of cotton, but don’t be fooled; they harbor spines that are just as painful as the ones on the healthy part of the plant!

Pink Woodsorrel (Oxalis debilis) is a lovely little wildflower that pops up every spring and summer. They always catch my attention and look like they’d be photogenic from any angle, but they don’t always stand out to the camera, so I tried playing with extremes of light and dark to make these “pop”.

Every now and then you see a blossoming Century Plant (Agave americana) in Austin. I’m glad I got a picture of this one, because the next time I came by not only was the blossom gone, but the leaves were hacked into short stumps that made the entire plant fit in the grassy area between the sidewalk and curb.

Traveling north to Wisconsin, the pictures of the pine trees were taken on a foggy morning. The scene was beautiful to the naked eye, but the pictures just looked overexposed, so I had to play with photoshop’s “water color” filter, among others, to try to do justice to the look of the morning fog. (I believe the first photo is red pine [Pinus resinosa] and the second is balsam fir [Abies balsamea].)

You’d think it would be easy to get a good picture of a Marginal Wood Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), but none of the ones I took really stood out, so I just went to town with one of them and “electrified” it!

Back to Texas for this one. I can’t remember where it was taken but it was somewhere in central Texas in the springtime. I believe it is a Star of Bethlehem flower (Orthinogalum umbellatum), but I’m not sure. The little flowers are pretty, but I had to really exaggerate the sharp and soft focus in the foreground and background to make this one show up. I got a little obsessed with it and three or four days and two versions of photoshop later it morphed into something that looks like Georgia O’Keefe meets the Day of the Dead!!! (last photo):

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 25, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today’s contribution comes from Tony Eales in Queensland; a mixture of invertebrates, molluscs, and even a fungus. Plenty of cool stuff here!. Tony’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

I was sent to Cairns in tropical North Queensland Australia for work and of course took the opportunity to get out and photograph the amazing invertebrate wildlife.

One of the common orb-weaving spiders is also one of the most spectacular. Gasteracantha fornicata, the Northern Jewel Spider. This was the first species of spider to be scientifically described in Australia in 1775. It was collected by Joseph Banks on Cook’s voyage along eastern Australia in 1770 and later described by Johan Christian Fabricius, student of Linnaeus. As adults they are banded dark black-red with white, but this one is a juvenile and is red and yellow.

Another common invertebrate on the leaves of shrubs in the rainforests around Cairns is the snail Leptopoma perlucidum. I think they have a sweet and somewhat comical face.

On a raised boardwalk in Speewah Conservation Park I was surprised to find this decent sized Lychas sp. Bark Scorpion. I have only ever found them under flaking bark before.

One of my favourite finds was this absolute unit of an ant. It is part of the giant Bull-dog Ant complex and this species is usually given as Myrmecia mjobergi. I’m familiar with the relatives that live in the rainforests further south, but I have never seen one with such long mandibles. As with all these nocturnal giants, I found it to be rather placid and timid and a pleasure to photograph.

But my favourite ant was the trap-jaw ants Odontomachus sp. I’ve found so many false trap-jaws and lookalikes before, and it was great to see the real McCoy. And I was very happy to get this shot of two nest mates greeting one another on a leaf.

Speaking of ants, Green Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) were everywhere, hardly a tree didn’t have a nest. As always, I hunted for the Green Ant Mimicking Crab SpiderAmyciaea sp. Apparently, they are not uncommon although hard to distinguish from the ants—but as yet I haven’t seen one.

On the other hand, I did find the much rarer, green ant mimicking theridiid, Propostira sp. These are only officially described from India but various observations at places like iNaturalist show they are more widespread and probably occur in low numbers wherever there are Oecophylla.

First the model.

And this is the spider. Up close the mimicry doesn’t look great but the colour match is near perfect and I thought, at first, I was looking at a dead green ant in a web, until it moved.

I found my first classic tropical forest Cordyceps fungus. This one is a member of the Ophiocordyceps dipterigena species complex. I wonder what the different forms of spikes are for.

The rainforest at night was full of an extraordinary variety of Katydids, most of them nymphs. These spider-katydids, Paraphisis chopardi, however, stood out for their strangeness even amongst this diversity. They are predatory with fearsome forearms for grabbing prey.

 But top of the strange list was this Lace Bug, believed to be Oecharis sp. They only attracted scientific interest in 2020 and remain undescribed as yet. The Lace Bug expert looking into them says they seem to be in the genus Oecharis but look nothing like any known species. I find them charming, like a walking 19th Century glass conservatory.

And finally, a mystery. I’ve exhausted my contacts regarding what this could be. The belief is that it’s some kind of spider egg sac. There appears to be some similarities with “silk henge” from South America which is the egg sac of an as yet unidentified spider.  It’s a beautiful little structure, only around 10mm across.

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 13, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today we have some fine Hawaiian mollusk photos courtesy of reader Scott Goeppner. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The following photos are photos of snails taken during several visits to Honolulu where my sister lives. I’m not an expert in snail identification, especially not land snails, so please take my IDs with a grain of salt!

First up, some tidepool snails. The dotted periwinkle (Littorina pintado) seems to be one of the most common marine snails Oahu’s beaches. Pretty much any rocky area near the shore is likely to house at least a few of these snails:

The next photo is another common snail on Oahu’s beaches, the black nerite (Nerita picea). These snails can also be found on virtually any rocky surface near the shore.

I’m not sure the species of this snail. It appears to be some type of predatory drupe snails (Family Muricidae)

Hawaii has an incredible diversity of native snail species, but unfortunately most these snails are critically endangered or extinct. I have never encountered any of these native snails, but I included a photo of one of the native tree snails (Achatinella bulimoides). They are very pretty!

Shown: Achatinella bulimoides. This snail was thought to be extinct for the past 20 years until the Army rediscovered it in Oahu’s Ko’olau Mountains.

The decimation of native land snails in Hawaii has occurred as a result of habitat loss and predation by invasive predators. Below is one of the most insidious of these invasive predators, the Rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea).

The Rosy wolf snail is native to the southeastern United States where it hunts other snails by following their slime trails. It was introduced deliberately to Hawaii in the mid-1950s to control another invasive snail, the giant African land snail (Achatina fulica):

This turned into an unmitigated disaster.  Instead of depleting giant African land snails, the Rosy wolf snail decimated populations of native snails. The Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP) in Honolulu is currently working to preserve the snails that are left. They operate a captive breeding program for Hawaii’s native snails and maintain predator-proof exclosures into which captive bred snails are released.  Readers can learn more about the program here.  Their website also has some beautiful photos of the snails they are working to preserve!

A few other invasive snails:

First, the Asian Tramp snail (Bradybaena similaris). This snail is native to Southeast Asia. It is highly adaptable and has invaded tropical environments worldwide. They are small and have a rapid life history, making them easy to accidently transport, and allowing them to rapidly establish populations when moved.

And what I believe is a species of awl snail (genus: Allopeas):

And to conclude, here are some photos of land snails I could not identify. All these snails were tiny (~1-2 mm length) and were photographed on public trails in the Round Top Mountain preserve.

And a final note for readers who may visit Hawaii: Land snails in HI carry rat lungworm, an unpleasant parasite that infects the nervous system in humans. It’s best to avoid touching the snails in HI and to wash your hands immediately if you do!

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 9, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today we have mollusk and cnidarian photos from Taryn Overton. Her captions and narrative are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.  First, the introduction:

These are a few sea creature photos from South Florida.  My hand is in the majority of these photos, as one can wait rather a long wait for conchs to venture out of their shells of their own accord.  All were briefly photographed and returned to the surf.  The camera used was an iPhone 11.  Locations were various but include Sanibel Island, Marco Island, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (near Naples, FL), Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (near Fort Lauderdale, FL), and Dr. Von D. Mizel-Eula Johnson State Park (near Hollywood, FL).

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Strombus alatus (Fighting Conch).  These conchs (along with numerous others in the Strombidae family) have remarkable eyes!  The eyes are located on the ends of peduncle structures called ommatophores and are of the camera-type (simple) variety.  That is, a single lens collects and focuses light onto the retina.  Research of gastropods in the Strombidae family has shown that the eyes have a complex architecture, with tightly packed photoreceptors and at least six different cell types.  Similar to cephalopods, their lenses also reduce spherical aberrations through graded refractive indexes.  These anatomical findings, taken together with recent behavioral studies, show that they have both high contrast sensitivity and high visual acuity.

If the eye is injured or amputated, the ommatophore tip experiences a migration of cells that reassemble in correct topographic orientation.  At first the regenerating eye is small, but eventually it grows to the size of the original and is once again functional.  A Master’s thesis* where Strombus alatus eyes were amputated demonstrated restoration of rhodopsin and Gq proteins (necessary for phototransduction) within 4 weeks, suggesting return of visual function by that period.  I find it fascinating – the ability of these gastropods to regenerate an entire eye from cells that then reintegrate with the central nervous system to function!

The conch photographed here has been recently injured.  Something took part of the foot, the corneous/sickle-shaped operculum (see other photos of conchs with intact feet/opercula), and the right eye.  The eye is in the process of regenerating.  I’ve found a few other conchs over the years that have been missing their operculum and part of the foot but were healed from the previous trauma.  Based on those observation alone, it does not appear that the operculum or foot regenerate in any significant capacity – but I’m not sure.

Also of note – they have a sensory tentacle that hangs from the ommatophore and functions in scent detection (food, predators, etc).  These are more readily seen in the Aliger gigas (Queen Conch) photographs.

*Figures 1.2 and 3.1 below are from the following source: Clark, J.M (2018). Restoration of visual performance and opsin expression within the retina during eye regeneration in the Florida fighting conch (Strombus alatus).  (Master’s thesis).

Strombus alatus (Fighting Conch). I often find that Fighting Conch have numerous shell pieces adhered by a mucous substance to their foot.  Over the years I’ve wondered if it was some sort of defense mechanism, as I often can’t see the organism behind the shells.  Whether or not this is deliberate on the part of the conch, a secondary effect of biology/mucus produced on the foot, or a combination of both, I’m not sure.  When the ‘My Octopus Teacher’ film came out in 2020, the behavior of the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) covering herself with shells/debris as an apparent defense mechanism reminded me of this.

Strombus alatus (Fighting Conch) at sunset.

A juvenile Strombus alatus (Fighting Conch) peeking out of its home at sunrise

Aliger gigas (Queen Conch).  The discussion regarding eyes of Strombus alatus can be applied in a similar manner to this species.

Sinistrofulgur perversum (perversum lightning whelk).  ‘Perversum’ – derived from the Latin word perversus, meaning “turned the wrong way”.  ‘Sinistro’ – Latin for left.  Their left-handed (sinistral) aperture separates them from the majority of other marine gastropods.  Being ‘lefties’ helps to protect them against typically right-dominant predators like stone crabs.  Right-handed (dextral) lightning whelks have been documented but are rare.  I mostly find small, uninhabited shells but have run across a few larger, living specimens.

Sinistrofulgur perversum (perversum lightning whelk) egg casing that washed up in the surf.  These casings are colloquially known as ‘mermaid’s necklaces’.  They spawn from March-April, and the casings can be 27-83 cm long.  Each strand has up to ~200 disc-shaped capsules containing up to ~100 eggs (numbers vary based on the source).  If you pick them up, you can hear the rattle of the tiny whelks (protoconchs) within the capsules.  Juveniles begin to hatch in May.

Velella velella (velella).  The marine life so nice they named it twice.  Also known as ’purple sail, ’little sail’, and ‘by-the-wind sailor’.  Classification and exact nature are disputed, and I don’t have specialized taxonomy knowledge to distinguish which classification is correct.  They are not jellyfish and may be either a single large hydroid polyp, or a colony of hydroid creatures.  The organism(s) also harbor symbiotic zooxanthellae (single celled dinoflagellates) that help with sustenance.

Physalia physalis (Portuguese man o’war).  This is a siphonophore, and is a colonial organism composed of smaller units called zooids.  I often walk the beaches at dawn and dusk, and occasionally there are periods where hundreds will wash ashore.  For those that find themselves in similar positions, I recommend shoes on the beach.  These guys have long tentacles bearing nematocysts (specialized stinging cells).  Even if you’re confident you’ll manage to avoid all the tentacles, you won’t!

Readers’ wildlife photos

July 22, 2022 • 8:00 am

We’re beginning to run a tad low on photos, so if you have some good ones, send them in, please.  Do I have to beg? (I will!)

Today’s batch comes from reader Scott Goeppner. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos (as you can with all photos) by clicking on them.

Attached are some photos of invertebrates taken around Stillwater Oklahoma this summer.

First are some photos of Widow Skimmers (Libellula luctuosa), a common dragonfly in Stillwater during the summer. The species is sexually dimorphic. Freshly emerged individuals and females have a pretty yellow and black coloration as shown below:

Adult males develop a white coloration over their tail and white spots on the wings

Normally these dragonflies are not happy to see me and rapidly fly away if I try to get too close to them. However about a month ago I visited Sanborn Lake here in Stillwater on a particularly windy morning, and found a widow skimmer clinging to some vegetation and trying not to get blown away. This individual allowed me to get very close to it without flying off and afforded me a rare opportunity to get some closeups of its face and enormous eyes.

Next is a six-spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton) photographed at night in the Teal Ridge wetland in Stillwater. This one was sitting very still on the surface of the water and apparently waiting to ambush some unfortunate prey.

The next three photos are of two common freshwater snails, taken at Sanborn Lake. The first two are Physa acuta, otherwise known as the “fruit fly of malacology”. They have this status because, like fruit flies, they are easy to culture in the lab, reach reproductive age rapidly (as soon as 4-5 weeks after hatching) and produce large numbers of eggs. They also respond readily to water borne predator cues from predators such as crayfish and sunfish and are used in studies of anti-predator behavior and shell morphology.

This one shows the snail’s eyes. Notice that like most aquatic snails they are at the base of tentacles rather than on the tips of the tentacles.

The third is a ramshorn snail, most likely Planorbella trivolvis. These are common aquarium snails that are great at controlling algae growth.

Finally I’ll end with some miscellaneous photos of insects.

Candy stripe leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea).

Robber fly (Family Asilidae). These large flies aggressively attack and eat other insects. I do not know the species; if it is possible to ID from the photo, please feel free to identify it.

Sinuous bee fly (Hemipenthes sinuosa). I wish all insects were as cooperative as the sinuous bee fly. This one politely landed in a well-lit spot on the ground and stayed perfectly still to be photographed.

I don’t know how many readers will be interested in my camera information, but if they are all of these photos were taken with an Olympus TG-6 camera, which is rugged, waterproof, and takes very good macro photos.

Readers’ wildlife photos

April 9, 2022 • 10:45 am

Today’s photos come from Paul Edelman, an emeritus professor of Mathematics and Law at Vanderbilt University. His notes are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

When we were down in Sanibel, FL we once again visited Harns Marsh in Lehigh, FL.  I’ve sent you pictures from there before.  This time we were fortunate enough to see the Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis).  South central Florida is the only place in North America where one can find these birds and this population is under considerable threat.  The University of Florida, in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey, is currently monitoring and researching the Florida population.

Snail kites flying:

One problem for the snail kite is that its diet consists almost only of apple snails (genus Pomacea).  At Harns they are in competition for the snails with the Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), but since they hunt for these snails in different fashion (the kites from above and the limpkins from below) they seem to peacefully coexist.  The real threat is eradication of the marsh habitat cutting off their supply of food.

Snail kites with food:

A limpkin:

On a more interesting evolutionary front, the snail kites in Florida had to deal with an invasive species of apple snail that was crowding out the indigenous ones.  This invasive species was considerably larger than the native snail, which made it more difficult for the snail kite to feed.  Interestingly, according to this study, the snail kites actually evolved to have larger beaks so that they could feed effectively on the new larger snail!!

These birds are just gorgeous.  I apologize for some of the pictures being less than stellar, but the birds were not being particularly cooperative.  Nevertheless, the birds are quite unusual in many ways and I thought your readers would enjoy seeing them.

Readers’ wildlife photos

January 26, 2022 • 8:45 am

Today we have a panoply of taxa from reader Scott Goeppner. His notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These photos were all taken around Stillwater, Oklahoma:
Physa acuta at Sanborn Lake in Stillwater OK. These freshwater snails are common at pretty much any location in Oklahoma with water, along with other species of Physa.

Planorbella (Helisoma) sp., most likely Planorbella trivolvis from Sanborn Lake. Another very common freshwater snail in Oklahoma.

Spined micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) near Sanborn Lake:

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) next to Sanborn Lake:

Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) on the edge of Boomer Lake in Stillwater OK.:

Green-striped grasshopper (Chortophaga viridifasciata) – Teal Ridge wetland in Stillwater OK:

Obscure bird grasshopper (Schistocerca obscura) – Teal Ridge wetland:

Southern Leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) at the Teal Ridge wetland:

Hackberry emperor butterfly (Asterocampa celtis) at the Teal Ridge wetland:

Here’s another one from Boomer Lake with its wings open:

Common Green June beetle (Cotinis nitida) at Teal Ridge:

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) near the Teal Ridge Wetland in Stillwater OK:

Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) from Teal Ridge:

Readers’ wildlife photos

November 25, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today I’ll show my own “wildlife” photos just for fun, but keep sending yours in.  Click the pictures below to enlarge them.

Feeding wild cats at a nunnery in Mystras, Greece, 2002. I always carry a box of dry cat food in my backpack in places like this.

A rare bloom in Death Valley, California, 2005. I don’t know what the moth is, and I’m baffled about where the many pollinating insects come from in those very occasional wet years. They just appear from out of nowhere.

Me feeding a grape (with permission) to a ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) at the Duke Lemur Center, 2006. Note the baby clinging to its belly.

Another ringtail with child:

Sifakas (lemurs, Propithecus sp.):

Cepea nemoralis snails on a fencepost, Dorset, England, 2006. The riot of colors and banding in this species was subject to a lot of investigation when I was in college, but evolutionary geneticists still don’t have an explanation for why the variation persists:

A butterfly (I don’t know the species) in the garden at Thomas Hardy’s boyhood home, 2006:

Snail and fly near Clouds Hill (T. E. Lawrence’s cottage), Wareham, Dorset, 2006:

Gooseneck barnacle, a rare and expensive delicacy. Galicia, Spain, 2006:

The one above was found on the rocks at low tide. Here are some for sale in the market. You eat the meat underneath the leather skin. It’s very good.

Me feeding a Texas longhorn on David Hillis’s and Jim Bull’s Double Helix ranch outside Austin, 2007:

Groundhog (Marmota monax), Capitol grounds, Ottawa, Canada, 2007:

Greg Mayer’s pet common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina); I believe its name was “Snappy”), Kenosha, Wisconsin, 2008:

Butterfly and orchids (species unknown), Guatemala, 2009:

Statue dedicated to all the lab cats “sacrificed” in medical research. St. Petersburg, 2011:

Gulls, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, 2011

Trees in autumn, Switzerland 2011:

I have many more, and perhaps I’ll post some of them on another holiday (Chanukah, Christmas, and Coynezaa are coming up).

Readers’ wildlife photos

October 11, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good photos, as the tank is depleting faster than I’d like. Thanks.

Today we have a potpourri of photos from various readers and contributors. Their captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The first photo is by Jamie Blilie:

Winter plumage American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) in the middle of a snowstorm.  Taken Dec 23, 2020, in a tree in our back yard, Minnesota.  We have many winter resident birds.  We have many feeders in our yard to help them through the winter (we feed much less in summer).

Reader Bryan found slugs making The Beast with Two Backs in Middlesex County, Massachusetts:

I saw this the other day (cool fall day in N. hemisphere).Reading a bit tells me it is gastropod copulation involving Spanish slugs, Arion vulgaris.  It was satisfying to know I stumbled (figuratively!) on a fascinating biology topic.

From Thomas Czarny, sent September 8:

Yesterday an epic line storm coming across Lake Michigan slammed into the Traverse City, MI area causing widespread wind, rain and hail damage.  Below is a sequence of photos of the advancing front as it swept inland from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline.  Only the first one is my photo, the rest are from friends and other local sources.  At last report the Cherry Hut in Beulah is still intact.🍒

From Divy:

 We went to the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali a couple of years ago.  If I remember correctly, this was a tourist conservation, owned by the local community.  There were several Hindu temples within the forest which were closed-off to the public; only the monkeys could enter. I believe these were Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis).

Reader Reese sent in some photos he got from a friend who tends ducks in a pond by his house. I’m going to show these photos to Honey.

From my friend John Williamson who feeds ducks and other wildlife on a resaca in Brownsville, Texas.  I hope some of your pals are planning on wintering there.  His house backs up to Town Resaca (which appears to be a body of water that goes nowhere) in Brownsville, not far from the Gladys Porter Zoo.  I attach a few more photos so your ducks have a better idea of the winter spa awaiting them:

Note that he has built a duck-feeding platform (and also a Buddha platform).

Nutria (rodents also known as coypu; Myocaster coypus) also appreciate the duck corn.  There also seem to be duck pellets:

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 7, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your photos, please! Today’s batch comes from Rik Gern. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The last pictures I submitted for your Reader’s Wildlife Photos feature pretty much drained my tank of prepared photographs,  so I’ve gone thru the files to find some pictures that might be worth processing and sending your way.

These pictures revisit a Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ellisiana), pictures of which I sent you about this time last year. Same plant, new pictures.

In the springtime it’s always the yellow flower that catches the eye, so we start with an overhead view of a fresh flower, pollen intact and unmolested by bees or wind. Going in close and then pulling back we focus first on the female part of the flower, the stigma, at the tip of the pistil. Taking a wider view we can see the anther and filament of the stamen, or male part. Surrounding all that are the petals, one of which has a little pointy spike.

The cactus also sprouts fresh pads in the spring, and they’re briefly covered with funky little vestigial leaves that eventually fall off and leave glochids–clusters of prickly little pins.  This particular pad is growing on the underside of the cactus, from the stump of a pad that was lopped off to make room for pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. Just below the base of the fresh pad you can see a small snail on the underside of the cactus plant.

Here’s the snail in closeup; it’s a Globular Drop Snail (Helicina orbiculata).

There were a number of them residing on this cactus; here’s another that was cruisin’ along the edge of a pad in the early sunlight.

Besides picturesque snails and bees, the Spineless Prickly Pear is also home to the very buggy looking bug, Cactus Coreid (Chelinidea vittiger). They give me the willies when I see bunches of them on the sides of the pads, but viewed individually they’re very interesting. Here is one reaching the top of the cactus and finding a crater where the flower used to be.

Where is the flower? I don’t know if it’s the same one, but here is a flower fallen from it’s perch and lying among the undergrowth, dethroned but still radiant.

For those who might be interested, the pictures were taken with a Canon PowerShot SD400 and processed with Photoshop CS6.