Readers’ wildlife photographs

I want to give a big shout-out to all the readers who so kindly send me pictures for display on this site. Too often, I think, we take the daily photos for granted, but I think the quality of pictures taken and submitted by the readers is extraordinary. So thanks to both the regulars and the occasionals, and keep those photos coming in!

One of our regulars is Mark Sturtevant, who today sends us arthopod photos.

We start with this very pale spider, which is a female dimorphic jumping spider, Maevia inclemens. The male comes in different color forms.


Here’s a front view I’ve taken from Wikipedia:


Next is a lovely fly that is common in our forests during the early summer. This is the golden-backed snipe fly, Chrysophilus thoracicus. It is thought to be predatory on other insects. This individual is a male, identified by its huge compound eyes.


Also common in our forests in the early summer are groups of what I think are phlox flowers, and these are always worth a visit. This summer, for some reason, I would frequently come across at least one of these lovely moths on the flowers. It is the white slant-line moth (Tetracis cachexiata). They would just sit at the tops of the flowers, not feeding. Why? I have no idea. The moth is from the family Geometridae, so-named since their caterpillars are known as inchworms.


The next picture shows a wolf spider. I suspect that it is the wolf spider Trochosa ruricola, but I am not sure since there are other species that are pretty similar. She looks rather pregnant, and so I expect she would be carrying around her egg sac before long.


And finally… ever encounter one of these? Aren’t they great? I speak of course of the house centipedeScutigera coleoptrata. This species originated in the Mediterranean, but now, thanks to their spread through international commerce, people worldwide are familiar with their habit of racing up and down walls and occasionally showing up in the bathtub when one is naked. I know they always cause a great deal of excitement in our home, especially when a big one shows up unexpectedly.

It is of course desirable to bounce and diffuse the flash to minimize shadows when photographing subjects on a white background. But I rather like keeping the shadows with these subjects since it makes ‘em look more…centipedey. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of several house centipedes over the summer, and so there will be some more of this species in later installments.



  1. Posted October 4, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Wow, Mark, this is a really stellar set!

    Wonderful work!

    Would you care to comment on the equipment used? Cheers!

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I think all of these were taken on the Canon T5i, with an old consumer grade 50mm lens mounted on cheap extension tubes. That lens was inherited from my father, and I think it is about 30 years old. I use a very inexpensive flash head + a conical diffuser.
      I now have a true macro lens, and you will be seeing photos from that later.

      • Pete Moulton
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Excellent work, Mark!

  2. Posted October 4, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    These are some amazing closeups!
    The moth is particularly interesting to me.
    Perhaps it’s doing aromatherapy. 😊

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      I wondered if there’s something in its makeup that makes it look like it blends in with the flowers to a particular predator that sees colours differently than we do?

    • Posted October 4, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      The moth is beautiful, my favorite.

      As a baby, one of my sons received an “inchworm”, that is, a big (almost a meter) baby-safe caterpillar soft toy with scales in inches and centimeters to measure his length as he grew. Until today, I’d never think that the name was borrowed from a real invertebrate.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Yes! Thank you RWP contributors!

  4. lutesuite
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Whenever I hear a blood curdling scream from the basement, I know my wife has just had another encounter with a house centipede and, with a sigh, I grab a broom and dustpan and go downstairs to perform my manly duty.

  5. Christopher
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    House centipedes are guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of those not in the know. All those legs sticking out everywhere, people are just sure they are poisonous, venomous, deadly, blood-thirsty people eaters. I know I shouldn’t laugh at people who react that way; there’s something deep-seated going on in that reaction, but I can’t help it. My reaction has always been a startled “Whoa!” What the hell, I didn’t expect that, then, “whooooa!”, as in way cool! Having a nephew who is uncontrollably terrified of all things insect is very hard on me. I just can’t understand why he can’t see how exciting they are! I need to be more sensitive though.

    great pics.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      They really do push our buttons, given their long legs and bursts of speed. I will handle half grown ones without a care, but so far I cannot bring myself to let a big one crawl on me. There are limits.

      • Christopher
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Well, my poor, goofy nephew nearly sh*ts himself even if he sees a small insect like a pantry moth. This last summer when at the lake with him and the nieces I found a beautiful polyphemus moth outside and brought it in to show all the kids. Two of the nieces rushed me, excited and wanting to get closer, he stood at the back of the hall, not kidding here, hands over his junk, with a terrified expression on his face. Not sure if the crotch protection was purposeful, or just an innate male reaction to something fearful, but good grief! He’s even afraid of plastic bugs.

  6. Ron DeBry
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Snipe fly *larvae* are (probably) predatory on very small insects. It might be fun to imagine the lovely adult wrestling with then devouring the slant-line moth, but they just don’t have the right mouthparts. Magnificent photo, of course.

    The centipede, on the other hand, is a truly voracious predator of things you’d rather not have living in your house. They are always welcome at our home.

  7. Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting the wildlife photos and all else you do in WEIT. You are educating some non-biologists. “Rather pregnant” instead of “possibly pregnant”? Is that like “a little pregnant”?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I think it means very pregnant and about to give birth, spider style.

      I’m guessing USians don’t use “rather” the same way Brits and NZers (and probably some others) do.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        I would say it’s like saying “quite pregnant”.

  8. Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks for these nice pics and the IDs. I had seen that snipe fly in Wisconsin but had no idea what it was or how it lived.

    I agree, some shadows often help make a photo look more three-dimensional.

    I think the flower the moth is on is not a phlox but an invasive Dame’s Rocket Hesperis matronalis, a mustard.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      That does look like a better flower ID, so as I often say ’round here: Thanks, Lou!

  9. Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    These are great pics as almost all of the pics posted here are. I wish I could make photos like this. Thanks to all the readers.

    BTW, they are arthropods not arthopods (in the introduction).

  10. darrelle
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Very nice. I’ve got to practice macro shots, though I doubt I’ll ever be able to get shots this good.

    The jumping spider looks cute, but that wolf spider has my fight or flight systems on stand-by.

    One early morning in high school I stumbled from my bed into the shower, slid the shower curtain closed, turned and bent down to start the water. I had sort of noticed a dark patch about head high on the shower curtain out of the corner of my eye, but in my half conscious state it didn’t really register.

    Until, still in my extreme peripheral vision, the dark patch moved. It fell down. I heard a distinct *thump* as something landed on the floor of the tub. I whirled around to see a gargantuan spider, no shit the leg span was the size of my palm. As my shocked gaze locked onto it, it rotated about 90* to face me and then charged directly at me. I was now about 18 times more awake than the average state of awakedness. I leaped through the shower curtain, taking it and the pole with me out the bathroom door into the hallway.

    Shaking with reaction I timidly reentered the bathroom and carefully peaked into the tub. As soon as it saw me it charged me again! Right directly towards me, up onto the vertical side of the tub, almost to the top before sliding back down. And it kept doing that over and over! It was frantic to eat me! In my terror I grabbed a can of bug spray from under the sink and sprayed the monstrous man eating beast. And sprayed it, and sprayed it, and . . . And the whole while it continued to manically charge me over and over. Eventually, it died. I don’t think the spray killed it by any chemical means, I think it simply drowned.

    These days I’ve mostly conquered my fear of spiders. If I had such an encounter today I’d simply call my daughter to come take a look and we’d ooohhh and aaahhh over it for a while, then she’d pick it up and ask if she could keep it.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      That is quite a spider story. I don’t know what it was, but if in the U.S. perhaps it was a fishing spider known as Dolomedes okefinokensis. These are pretty common, especially around water, and they are about the size of a small tarantula. And they are fast.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        You’ve inspired me to look. I’m pretty sure, given the location, size, and that the pictures look just like the poor spider that tried to eat me, it must have been Dolomedes tenebrosus, the Dark Fishing Spider.

        This picture
        gives an idea of the size. The one that tried to eat me was bigger.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          Aka Dock Spiders. The reason I won’t go anywhere. Eat a dock in northern Ontario.

          I had a wolf spider charge me as a kid. I flipped over an old mat from a car in a field looking for snakes and the spider came running out. It scared the crap out of me as I, with my bare feet & legs jumped back about 5 feet.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            Eat = near

  11. barn owl
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I appreciate all the great photos posted here, but I’m especially loving the arthropod photos at the moment. I’m participating in the Inktober challenge (self-imposed theme = invertebrates), so the photos give me lots of ideas for drawings.

  12. Dominic
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Very very nice – thanks so much for sharing these!

  13. Posted October 4, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Every time you post one of these wildlife photo posts, without fail, I get overwhelmed with as much awe and amazement as any religious figure claims to get. All naturalistically, evolutionarily. I love it when there are pictures of the most beautiful birds, in such deep and bright colors, but FLIES! Who thought flies, and beetles, and spiders could be so beautiful? Amazing. Love it.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink


  14. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff, Mark. Both the photography and the subjects.

  15. Michael Scullin
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Having one of those “scorpion” centipedes land on one’s neck is quite a thrill. Their companions were long bodied cellar spiders who could vibrate themselves into invisibility.

  16. keith cook +/-
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. The goldern back snipe fly and white slant-line moth are a treat, two more creatures I have never seen before.
    darrelle’s spider story was a laugh.

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    The centipede is especially nice. These ones are harmless to humans but their fast movements freak us out. They do eat a lot of pests though and are therefore one of the good guys.

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