Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009

Sunny for a change and a high in the upper 50s. An unidentified anglewing (Polygonia) at home. Last week (can't remember the exact date) I saw a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November 8, 2009
(Boone County)

On a day with a high of 76 F and lots of sunshine, I saw a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) pass through our front yard while I was sitting outside reading Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant. Later, a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) found bait in the backyard. No photos because it was on the rim of a bait jar. I almost successfully moved it to a tree trunk and probably would have been successful if I had used my finger instead of trying to move it with the paintbrush.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November 2, 2009
(Boone County)

Butterflies: Cloudless Sulphur

November 1, 2009
(Boone County)

Butterflies: Cabbage White, unidentified Comma, Orange Sulphur, Monarch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009

Wow – another sunny day. Must be the 4th one this month!!!

I took leaf photos today, some were similar to those I took last weekend, zooming and / or rotating the camera. But I really liked this image the best – handheld 200 mm lens at a very slow shutter speed in a strong wind.

Saw a few insects during a walk on campus: Monarch, Orange Sulphur, Great Spreadwing, Red-shouldered Bug, and Syrphid Flies. The woodchuck that lives in Peace Park was out today – always fun to see him.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009

Sunny and high of 76. A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over the house just before we ate our lunch on the deck before leaving on a bike ride. I wanted to get all the way to Rocheport, but we didn't have time for the whole ride starting from Columbia so we drove to McBaine and rode to Rocheport and back.

We saw a few butterflies on the Katy Trail – 2 Cloudless Sulphurs, 1 Orange Sulphur, 3 Cabbage Whites (including one at home while putting the bikes on the car), 2 unidentified anglewings, 3 Monarchs, and about 6 woolly bears.

We also saw 5 snakes on the trail. Unfortunately, I ran over one. I was looking straight down at my tire going around a beetle on the trail and when I looked up I was just a couple of feet from the snake. All in the same second, I thought “Could that be a copperhead? If I slam on my brakes I'll probably end up stopped right on top of it. Not good if it is a copperhead.” The snake was about 2' long so I just aimed for as far to the tail as possible. I don't know what happened to the snake because I couldn't bring myself to turn around and look. I did watch the snake when I hit it and it didn't react. I've had snakes really move fast and get out from in front of my bike at the last minute and this one never moved. I had about convinced myself that someone else had hit and killed the snake before me, but on the way back to McBaine the snake had apparently moved off of the trail. I hope I hit far enough back on the tail that I didn't really hurt it. With more time to think about it (and a quick look through a field guide when we got home), I've decided it definitely wasn't a copperhead. Most likely a Prairie Kingsnake.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009

Saw a few insects during a walk on campus; the high was 60 F this afternoon but it was 29 F when I got up this morning. A Variable Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) was flying through the white campus and a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) was basking in the sunlight on a sidewalk in front of Jesse Hall. I also saw several Hymenoptera: honey bee (Apis mellifera), Dolichovespula sp., and Vespidae.

Yesterday I saw an Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) flying across Providence from the MKT Trail.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 17, 2009
Not Insects

This is about fish. While eating breakfast this morning, I read “A Taste for Blood” by Natalie Angier in the October/November issue of National Wildlife.

I'm sure everyone has heard the story about the candiru – a catfish that supposedly enters the urethra of people in the water in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. While I had heard that it was an unusual occurrence, I didn't realize that only a single instance has ever been confirmed. (Although I guess that wasn't much comfort to the only person). What really surprised me was why the fish is supposedly confused. Candiru feed in the gills of larger catfish – which they find by the scent of urine: “fish, after all, urinate from their gills.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009

Yikes! Almost 4 months since I've updated my blog. Obviously, I've seen quite a few insects this summer that I haven't mentioned. This was pretty much a horrible summer, though. My Mom fell at home and fractured two vertebrae. She went to the hospital mid-summer and is now in skilled nursing doing rehab. She's walking much better and will hopefully head home sometime. Worrying about her reduced my productivity this summer.

Some of the best insect sightings from the summer were a Vesper Bluet (Enallagma vesperum, June 4, Boone County – a lifer! But it flew off before I was able to photograph it), Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis, June 16, Boone County), Lilypad Forktails (Ischnura kellicotti, June 17, Boone County), male and female Io Moths (Automeris io, June 29, Dallas / Laclede Counties) , Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea, August 23, Cape Girardeau County), and Citrine Forktails (Ischnura hastata, August 26, Dunklin County).

I'll try to post a few images of those soon. In the meantime, here's a shot from this week in my kitchen. I guess entomologists are weird – we've got a large population of fruit flies (Drosophila) that have been breeding in a jar of moth bait that's been sitting on our counter for about two weeks. But instead of getting rid of them, I've been taking photos.

There were a couple of cool events from the summer. I opened a studio at Orr Street Studios, so if you happen to be in Columbia, email me and I can meet you there sometime. I don't go to the studio every day, so if someone just shows up at the studio, more than likely I won't be there. I also recently signed a contract with Animals Animals stock photo agency and got an Honorable Mention in the Visions Photography Exhibit with my shot of a Bumble Bee chasing a Monarch from a flower.

For the next few weeks, I'll be hard at work to meet a December 1 deadline for the Missouri Department of Conservation field guide to butterflies and moths.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 20, 2009
Additional Photos from Macon County

I decided to add photos of 2 more butterfly species from that day.
Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)
Gray Copper (Lycaena dione)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 20, 2009
Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii)

Last year I got a brief glimpse of a hairstreak in Macon County, but did something I usually remember to avoid – I tried to get a closer look without using my camera. When it flushed, I had missed getting both a good look and a photograph taken from a distance. As a result, I had no idea what I had seen. I still don't, even though I got a lifer hairstreak in Macon County this week when we returned to look for hairstreaks.

Last weekend, I came home with good images of an Edward's Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii). But from what I remember from the glimpse I got last year, this isn't the species I saw on June 22, 2008.

I also saw a Swamp Metalmark (Calephelis muticum), which was kind of a surprise.

When I got home, I managed to succeed at something I failed at last year – a photo of a firefly in flight.

June 19, 2009
Springtails (Collembola Entomobryidae)

Decided to take photos of an ant nest in our yard, but immediately got distracted by the springtails crawling over the stone / sand patio.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 13, 2009
Regal Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele)

Headed toward the western part of Missouri for the day in search of Regal Fritillaries (Speyeria idalia). I'll have to try again sometime, because I couldn't find a female today. I did get photos of both the dorsal and ventral side of males – there were quite a few today in Pettis County.

I also found a Robber Fly (Asilidae) ovipositing into a coneflower.

We headed south into Benton County in the morning because when we arrived at the prairie, it was cool and completely overcast despite a forecast of sunny weather which has been very scarce this year. We hiked a trail through a glade and found both Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis) and Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta). Fortunately, the sun broke through around noon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wow! I can't believe it's been over 2 months since I updated my blog. I've been meaning to, but there was always something with a higher priority.

Some highlights of the last 2 months were:

May 28, 2009
I watched a fly ovipositing on an American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus). I didn't realize this, but when I looked up the scientific name on, I read the following comment posted by Rattlebox Photography “When threatened, it secretes a brown liquid capable of causing long-lasting stains on bare skin or clothing. It also secretes a defense of very pungent chemicals that causes severe eye irritation from up to three feet away and which can cause temporary blindness if they get into the eye. Should not be handled, especially not without appropriate protection.”

May 18, 2009
A Gray Scoopwing (Uraniidae Callizzia amorata) came to a light in our yard.

May 12, 2009
For several days, I watched a carpenter bee (Xylocopa sp.) dig a nest hole in our deck.

May 4, 2009
I got my camera muddy taking photographs of springtails (Collembola Podura aquatica) at the edge of a pond in Cole County.

April 11, 2009
There were tons of Forest Tent Caterpillars (Malocosoma disstria) swarming over the railings on the boardwalk at Tickfaw State Park, Livingston Parish, Louisiana. These tent caterpillars don't construct tents, but are gregarious.

April 8, 2009
A group of juvenile Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers (Romalea microptera) were at the edge of the trail in Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

March 20, 2009
Plasterer Bees

Back to take photos of the ground-nesting bees I saw yesterday. Identified as plasterer bees (Colletidae Colletes), named for their habit of lining their nests with a secretion that dries into a thin clear sheet. When a male found a female, they were pounced on by what I assumed were other males attempting to dislodge the original male so they could mate with the female.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19, 2009

Finally saw a couple of water striders in a downtown creek. I also saw ground-nesting bees swarming at a colony along the creek bank. I'll go back tomorrow with my camera. Forsythias are also blooming around town, although I didn't check them for insects.

I haven't looked for insects for a couple of days even though it's been really warm (70s). I have a fast-approaching April 1st deadline for text passages for a butterfly and moth field guide. I'm also providing the photographs for the book which will be published by the Missouri Department of Conservation sometime in 2011.

Friday, March 06, 2009

March 6, 2009

First insect bite of the year – minute pirate bug (Orius sp. Anthocoridae). Although it doesn't hurt that much when they bite, they have a pretty painful bite considering their small size. I guess that makes sense, true bugs don't often bite, but when they do – it hurts. At least with these, I wasn't wondering whether people could actually die from just pain, like when the Black Corsair bit me on April 2, 2007.

Two new 2009 butterflies – Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) and Goatweed Leafwing (Anaea andria). I've had bait on several trees in the yard yesterday and today. Getting mostly tons of flies. I should have made a videotape of them, but I'm not accustomed to that feature on my new camera, yet. There were so many of them on the tree trunk, that as I stepped closer and they all flew off, their wings made a fairly loud roar. Pretty cool!

I spent most of my time photographing these tiny flies about 2-3mm long. They would walk on the tree trunk with their wings lifted straight up and vibrating. Twice I saw two of them fight. Once, one appeared to chase after one of the larger flies. After reviewing my photos and deciding I had a good image, I decided to collect one to key it out, but by then it was getting late and I couldn't find one. Maybe tomorrow. As of right now, I have them tentatively identified as black scavenger flies (Sepsidae). The larvae live in decaying material – maybe like what's in our compost bin. The adults were at the bait.

Put on the deck light to see what was attracted. A few moths and lacewings. Highlight of the night – an Ophion Ichneumonid wasp.

A couple of moths that are unidentified are sitting in the refrigerator right now, but they were collected at bait, not the light.

March 5, 2009

First Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis ) of 2009 – seen at bait in our yard. First Missouri butterfly this year.

Still no water striders in the downtown creeks.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 25, 2009

With a high in the upper 60s today, I took a walk to see signs of spring. One of the antlions in our front yard colony dug a pit today. I found a few blooming chickweeds. Despite a careful search of two creeks, I was unable to find a water strider. Some of my previous early water strider sightings were February 29, 2004, March 7, 2007, and March 21, 2008.

As the sun set, I turned on the deck light. It attracted about a dozen lacewings and four moths. The moths scattered as I opened the back door. One disappeared and two landed too high for me to reach. I collected the one that resettled close to the light fixture on the wall. At this point, it's been tentatively identified as Hypena sp. (Erebidae).

New Mexico:
North American Nature Photography Association Summit Meeting, February 18-21

February 17, 2009
Albuquerque Botanic Garden

Two more butterflies – a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and a white that had to remain unidentified when it flew over the wall before I could get close enough to really see it.

February 15, 2009
Bosque del Apache NWR

Another early spring butterfly – Checkered White (Pontia protodice).

February 14, 2009
Rio Grande Nature Center

First butterfly of the year, and I only saw a blur when someone else in our group shouted “Mourning Cloak!” (Nymphalis antiopa) Despite a diligent search, we couldn't find it again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 21, 2009

Temperatures in the 60s again today – but not for long. I went out in search of Eastern Tent Caterpillar egg cases, but couldn't find one. I did find 2 flies – a blow fly, but the other one had to remain unidentified. I also kicked up a small overwintering grasshopper (Caelifera) and a small moth. I had hoped to photograph the moth, which almost landed on a small shrub. But after fluttering through the shrub, it disappeared into the top of an adjacent tree.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 9, 2009

Back into the high 60s today. While out on a walk to enjoy the warm, sunny day, I stopped under a Goldenrain Tree (Sapindaceae Koelrueteria paniculata) where I found 2 Red-shouldered Bugs (Jadera sp.). Here's a photo of a Red-shouldered Bug on a seed pod under a Goldenrain Tree taken November 2005.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

January 3, 2009

Wow, a high of 67 F today! Almost hard to remember it's winter and not early spring.

I didn't take my camera along on our bike ride today, figuring I wouldn't need it – after all it's early January. But I'd have used it if I had it.

When we got to our turn-around point, we sat at a bench along the creek. After a few minutes, we noticed our orange and red bikes and helmets had attracted a honey bee. A little while later, I saw what I thought was a Polygonia sp. flutter through the woods. Unfortunately not a good enough look to rule out Goatweed Leafwing.

Before we left the bench, a 4 mm long rove beetle landed on Jim's shirt. And then we noticed a tiny weevil crawling along the trail.

Friday, January 02, 2009

January 2, 2009

A sunny and relatively warm (47 F) day prompted me to take a short break from working on the butterfly and moth field guide to go for a walk. I searched a pipevine (Aristolochia sp.) for chrysalids; the vine fed dozens of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) caterpillars during the summer. No luck with the butterflies, but I did find 2 praying mantis egg cases. Unfortunately, they both appeared to be Chinese mantids instead of native species.

Highlight of the day was a swarm of what appeared to be winter crane flies (Diptera Trichoceridae). I tried to catch one for a firm id, but the flies were much quicker than my hands. They look like small crane flies, but can be separated by the presence of ocelli on the winter crane flies. Larvae overwinter in decaying plant matter. Here are a couple of photos from a previous post.