Thursday, June 26, 2008

One-banded Sparganothis (Sparganothis unifaciana)
June 23, 2008

At the same location as my stint as an inadvertent food provider for a Cobra Clubtail on the 17th, I repeatedly flushed Haploa moths that wouldn't tolerate my approach within several feet. Oddly enough, one Haploa was nectaring at a Black-eyed Susan and tolerated me taking numerous photos from various positions around the flower.

Also on the 17th, I had a brief look at a One-banded Sparganothis moth, but didn't manage to take any photos because of its position in the vegetation. Today, I walked through the same area for over an hour hoping to spot another individual. I got my photos today, but paid for them with over 200 chigger bites. I guess that should be expected when not only walking through tall vegetation, but also stopping occasionally to sit in it.

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later
June 22, 2008

I need to work on taking photos before I approach close enough for a full-frame shot. I believe I got a quick look at a Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops) yesterday, but never even looked at it through my camera lens. While thinking, "Is that really a Striped Hairstreak?", I took a step for a closer look, the butterfly took off, and I was left thinking that at least a photo from far away would have let me zoom in for a longer look back home on the computer.

Later the same day, I remembered the lesson and took a photo of a Pink-bordered Yellow (Phytometra rhodarialis) from a few feet away. I need to find another individual of that species for a decent photo (this one is seriously cropped), but for right now, I can at least prove to myself that my id was correct.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Haploa sp.
June 17, 2008

I kicked up quite a few moths (and found a few perched on top of leaves, looking very much like a brown area of leaf damage) while walking through prairie plants. An unmarked Haploa flew at my approach when I was 8' to 10' away. I followed it for a while, each time as I got close (but still too far for a good photo), it would fly away – sometimes just a few feet, sometimes up to 30', but the white inch-and-a-half wingspan was easy to follow. After several chases interspersed with breaks to photograph a geometrid moth and a milkweed beetle, I once again failed to sneak up close enough for a frame-filling image of the Haploa despite slowly crawling through the 2' tall vegetation.

Feeling guilty about repeatedly flushing the moth, I decided that I'd make one last approach and then leave it alone. But when I was about 10' from the moth, I noticed a clubtail perched on the plants just about halfway between me and the moth. I immediately decided to abandon my pursuit of the moth in favor of Cobra Clubtail (Gomphus vastus) photos. I snapped one from where I was and then crept closer to the clubtail for better shots.

Now I was only 5' from the moth, its average level of tolerance, but because of its position in the vegetation, it wasn't very visible and I wasn't even looking for it anymore. Suddenly it bolts – at least by its definition of bolting – which is actually a slow flutter. My eyes instinctively leave the clubtail to glance at the moth – just in time to see that I'm not the only one who noticed it. My reflexes aren't quick enough for a photo – all I could do was scream “NO!” inside my head as the clubtail screamed “LUNCH!” and flew to the top of the nearby oak tree.

Later in the day, I found a dead mole alongside the trail and took photos of flies laying eggs on the carcass.

New species for the year:
Painted Lichen Moth
Cobra Clubtail

Van Meter State Park
June 11, 2008

Found a Stilt-legged Fly (Micropezidae) waving its front legs with white tarsi in front of its head in an effort to resemble a wasp. It's thought that looking like a wasp provides some protection against predators.

Blacklighting for Moths at Overton Bottoms, Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge
June 10, 2008

Highlight of the evening – prize find of the night goes to Jim who found an Eyed Paectes (Paectes oculatix) feeding on the bait we put out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Glorious Habrosyne (Habrosyne gloriosa)
June 5, 2008

It was raining when we went to sleep on June 4th, and I almost got up to turn off the deck light. But within a few minutes, the rain stopped, so I left it on. I'm glad I did. When I got up on the 5th, I found this gorgeous creature sitting on the outside of the kitchen window. I lucked out and managed to coax it into a net – I couldn't swing the net at the window and I couldn't use a jar because the window is about 6' over my head. Fortunately, when I placed the net over the moth and dragged the net towards it, the moth crawled into the net and didn't fly away when I lowered the net to the ground. I shot a few photos in captivity and then released it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
June 1, 2008

We spent the afternoon kayaking in Boone County. Several Orange Bluets were the highlight of the day. Males were resting on floating plants. I saw one pair ovipositing into a floating plant with the male holding the female just behind the head while his body was angled up at a 45 degree angle. The female was grasping the vegetation with her legs. No photos, though. It's hard to manage insect photos while sitting in a kayak, although I've occasionally pulled it off.

Other firsts for 2008 included Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) and Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). I watched a pair of saddlebags oviposit. Every few moments, the male would let go of the female, she would drop to the water and dip the tip of her abdomen into the water while the male hovered just above her, then she would fly up to the male and he would grab her by the head with the claspers at the tip of his abdomen and they would fly off to a different spot to lay more eggs.

Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)
May 29, 2008

Wow! I've never seen so many Hoary Edge skippers in a single day – I'd guess we saw between 30 and 40 while hiking about 2 miles along trails in Miller and Camden counties. I spent 21 minutes photographing a group of Hoary Edges and a Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) at a very fresh and unpleasant smelling pile of dung. Not a great substance to have 9” away from your head.

A few new species for 2008: Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela), Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae), alderfly (Neuroptera Sialidae Sialis sp.), and a scorpionfly (Mecoptera Panorpidae Panorpa sp.).

We found a few carrion beetles on the trail, and a Calligraphy Beetle (Calligrapha spiraeae), but a dung beetle rolling a large ball of dung definitely was a highlight of the day.

Just before heading home, we topped off the day with an Orange-patched Smoky Moth (Zygaenidae Pyromorpha dimidiata) resting on top of a leaf.