Reader Mark Sturtevant sent us some insect photos, along with his notes (indented). There’s also a new biology word to learn in the description of the nursery spider.
Here is yet another installment of insect pictures from last summer for your readers at WEIT. It seems that this supply might never end, but actually it is winding down though there are plenty more from the Fall and even the Winter and now this summers’ supply is already beginning to grow.
First up is a delicate mayfly. I think this is one of the ‘flat headed mayflies’, and it may belong to the genus Maccaffertium; but I do not rule out Leucrocuta. Note the weird compound eyes that swoop behind the head and the big simple eyes staring upward.
Next is a nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) that I found under a milkweed leaf. This large spider comes in different colors, as explained here. I showed one of the other varieties a while back, and that too was under a milkweed leaf. This new one demonstrated that these spiders are strongly thigmotactic since it firmly sat on its leaf, desiring to keep a purchase on its substrate even after I held the leaf upside down to take its picture. After a time it would zip to the opposite side of the leaf and cling there instead of dropping to the ground…
… so I simply rotated the leaf back to take more pictures. This little game went back and forth for a while until I felt that I had enough pictures.
Speaking of things found on milkweed, here’s a handsome monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus). There were quite a few of these in my favorite meadow late last summer.
Finally, we have a dancing peacock fly (Callopistromyia annulipes) which was shown previously by reader Mike McDowell. If you truly believe, you can see eye of Sauron in its wings. Getting this picture was a bit of an effort. The fly was strutting around on a big dead log, but my attention was initially on a couple of jewel wasps that were also patrolling the log. They refused to cooperate for a picture —always flying off the moment I drew my camera near them and then coming back —but this little fly stuck around, watching me closely while always waving its wings. So I stacked up all my extension tubes and went in close for a picture of it. But as I moved forward to get it into focus, it would walk backward, staying just out of range. I would then withdraw to catch my breath (it was an awkward and exhausting position), and I would try again. Finally, I just lunged forward for a rapid burst of pictures and managed to get two decent ones before it flew off.