Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Okay, so strictly speaking it's not insectapolooza, as arachnids aren't insects, and arachnoinsectopolooza is enough to turn off even the most persistent reader of my ramblings.  As it is I will be persecuted (mostly by my daughter) for my attention to crawling things.   For the record, I also saw downy woodpeckers, goldfinches eating thistle seeds, and a bunch of other cool animalia, I just had the wrong lens for the job, so it's time for insects.

Basically I wanted to go for a walk.  I've been sick for three or four days now, and I've spent most of that time inside and breathing recycled air, which causes my soul to creep into a closet, assume the fetal position and weep.  My soul needed air, so I decided to walk really slowly and just enjoy the sunshine.

There's always something to see along the bikepath.  It's lined with a lot of prairie plants, some native shrubs and of course, invasives (like the Bladder Campion (Silene cucubalis) above -- still pretty, though).  All in all I took 230 pictures, as my camera was shooting 5 frames a second and with macros, it's good to get a few shots as a lot of them are inevitablt blurry.

There are always bees working the asters along the bike path, but it was chilly really feels like fall.  As a result the bees are all a little sluggish, and even allowed me to pick them up.  

This one rested a few minutes, and after I breathed on him a little in a cupped hand, took off like a shot and looked like a fully-caffeinated bee.  I think bee caffeine is warmth.

Then there were the Crab Spiders.

I was intrigued by a little clump of what looks like some sort of wild Phlox, and there was this lovely little crab spider, (family Thomisidae), maybe a misumenops.  After finding this one I started looking at flowers through the macro lens and that's how I found this one, another Thomisid:

He was not so happy to see me, and gave me the whole threatening posture, waving his four front legs in the air and making little twitching moves like he was about to attack.  Tough little dude.

I also spotted a Nursery Web Spider (genus Pisaurina...notice the little bits of silk).  They're
 hunters, like the ground spiders, and very fast.  Their eyes are not quite as directionally focused as ground spiders as they have to hunt in three dimensions vs. a flat plane.

Interestingly, I took a few pictures where there were insects that I didn't see until I downloaded them and looked at them on the big screen.  This little clump of seed pods with one hanger-on was interesting to me, but I had no idea there was a Harvestman on the clump.  Look can click on the picture to blow it up if you have to.

For the record, Harvestmen, or Daddy Long Legs, are not spiders.  They are Arthropods, they're even Arachnids, but they're of a different order (Opiliones) than true spiders.  The big differences are that harvestmen don't spin webs (they can't, they do not posess silk glands), they don't have the usual spider body (cephalothorax and abdomen) but rather have a singular fused body all in one neat package.  They are also the only arachnid to have a penis (!) and they copulate and fertilize directly.

Crawling around on a warm rock I found this really cool wasp.  Not the kind that hurt us (most bees and wasps couldn't give a fig about humans), but they do a number on spiders and crickets.  Don't know the species since there are thousands of predatory wasps, but it's from genus Chlorion.  Possibly a Chlorion aerarium, or a Cricket Wasp.

It wasn't all spiders and wasps...

Most surprising for me was this little leafhopper, just a centimenter or so in length, and so brightly colored that I spotted her immediately.  The Red-banded (or Candystriped) Leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea) is lovely, and fairly tolerant of my proximity.  The graphocephala means "lined head" which is interesting, since there's a coloration line that goes right through her eye.  She reminds me of a tropical fish.

Next: not a bee.  A fly, most likely from the Syrphid family, can't be sure because there are a bazillion flies.  The Syrphids mostly imitate bees and wasps, and you gotta admit it makes you think twice before picking one up.  Harmless, as usual.

The Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) was tough to identify.  If I hadn't have had the macro lens I would have passed it off as some weird fly.

Then you start looking closely and you can see the little collar of "fur" which is a dead giveaway for moths.  Cool, and as you can see, not exactly shy.  It was chilly and he hopped right up on my finger.

Anyway...I walked two miles in about three hours, and it felt good to have some outside air in my lungs for a change.  With our without insects, it was a great walk.  We live in a beautiful, diverse, amazing place.  I was amazed that I could find a dozen species on one plant (these are just the highlights).

Respectfully submitted,


Silbs said...

What wonderful images...what a poor world this, if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare...anon.

Glad you took the walk...and got your soul properly aired out.

canoelover said...

Glad you liked 'em. I'm still experimenting with depth of field in a macro situation. I need a monopod too. :-)

The soul feels better today. The body...well, still taking a beating. DB