Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mike McDowell sent photographs of butterflies, all photographed in southern Wisconson, with these notes:

All were photographed using a Nikon 1 V1 with a Tamron 60mm f2 1:1 macro lens. Compared with tiger beetles or robber flies, butterflies are a snap! Still, my approach is similar; I hold my camera in one hand, then use my other hand and knees to slowly shuffle forward, and then carefully lean toward the insect for the shot.

Striped Hairstreak, Satyrium liparops:


Banded Hairstreak, Satyrium calanus:


Coral Hairstreak, Satyrium titus:


Edward’s Hairstreak, Satyrium edwardsii:


Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes:


Viceroy, Limenitis archippus:


Baltimore Checkerspot, Euphydryas phaeton:


Red-spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax:


Common Wood Nymph, Cercyonis pegala:


American Copper, Lycaena phlaeas:



  1. Posted June 12, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Great shots. Those hairstreak species must have been tough to find and photograph.

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. Wish I had a macro. I will be getting one soon…
    I am pretty amazed that you recognize the different hairstreaks. I am sure I would have considered them the same species. But I guess its a matter of being tuned to see small differences.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Depending on what you’ve got in your “lens pile”, a “reversing ring” may be all you need.

      • Posted June 13, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Or just extension tube(s). That’s what I’m using now.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 14, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

          Yep, should work. I tend to not carry the extension tubes in the field though – to rarely useful for too much bulk, compared to a reversing ring and my normal 2 lenses.

  3. Sue Sommers
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Love these photos. The detail is wonderful.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Your descriptions on stalking are exactly like how I go about my hobby, which is very much the same. Tiger beetles and robber flies are indeed challenging, and are among the sparsest insects in my photo collection. Not quite as difficult but still difficult are damselflies (too small for a telephoto lens, but just a bit too intolerant for the close approach needed for extension tubes). These too are sparse in my collection.

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous. Thank you.

  6. Michael Scullin
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I live in south-central Iowa and have noticed a precipitous decline in butterflies in the ten years that I have lived here. My wife and I walk daily in a local park with a woodsy trail which includes a small bit of “restored prairie” which is largely Indian grass now being invaded by a few other species. Ten years ago there was a spot where three trails met and this created a fairly large open area much appreciated by butterflies for displaying. These days (and for the past five or six years) the butterflies have been sparse. The same can be said for the “wild” bee populations which are to the point that the sight of a honeybee is cause for remark. Our early lawn was filled with clover which is still abundant. In 2006, and for a few years after, the clover was a favorite foraging area for local honeybee populations. No longer. Even birds like meadow larks are no longer abundant and kestrels have disappeared. This is the edge of the great corn and soy beans desert of central and northern Iowa so we frequently have crop sprayers flying to and fro. No problem, we are assured by our Dow, Monsanto, Dupont corporations who mine Iowa for millions of dollars. It is not quite Silent Spring but it is quieter and not so colorful.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    That’s quite a plethora of butterflies you have living there. I can only think of a handful of species around here (western Washington).

    Not knowing any better, if I saw all those different hairstreaks, I’d probably think they were all the same species.

  8. Diane G.
    Posted June 13, 2016 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! Especially of the really tiny spp! Agree with the others about being surprised to find so many similar but different hairstreaks. (They really need to rename Edward’s to continue the descriptive modifiers!) Are they sympatric?

    My fave is the furry little American Copper. You must be very stealthy indeed to get such good macros of these guys!

  9. Posted June 13, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Great shots, thanks for sharing them.

  10. Posted June 14, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Wonderful captures, Mike!

  11. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. In the UK we know Lycaena phlaeas as the Small Copper.

  12. Posted June 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the positive feedback!

    Some recent tiger beetle work:

%d bloggers like this: