Readers’ wildlife photos

Remember to send in your photos! I have a small backlog, but more is better. Today we have pictures from two regulars, the first being Mark Sturtevant. His captions are indented:

The first picture is an odd little moth that I have probably seen on many occasions, but this one got my attention because it landed near my feet and went into this odd pose by hanging upside down and curling its abdomen up while holding its wings down. It is a Geometrid moth known as the lesser grapevine looperEulithis diversilineata – and its posture probably makes it look more like a bit of dead leaf. [JAC: Don’t forget that mimicry can involve the evolution of behavior as well as appearance.]


Next up is a mating pair of basswood leaf miner beetles (Baliosus nervosus). These little beetles are very common, but they are small and very shy, making it hard to get a decent picture. As their name also indicates, their larvae will be found mining inside basswood leaves.


The next two pictures are not my usual fare. Last Spring I was waiting on the grounds of a local nature center, eagerly waiting for the opening day of their butterfly house. While waiting, I came across this pair of cold mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). These pictures are the first ‘serious’ pictures taken with a ‘new’ (actually very old and used) 300mm zoom lens that I had bought for myself as a Christmas present. You have already seen some of the pictures that I had taken of the tropical butterflies at that location.



Finally, one of our giant ichneumons at work. She is Megaryhssa atrata, and here she is using her extraordinary ovipositor to drill up to several inches into wood to parasitize what is probably the larva of a large stingless wasp called a horntail (often Tremex columba). This was yet another good find on my Lucky Tree Stump.


And from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, who sensed my desperation for pictures in late November (the 22nd, to be exact):

Since you’re desperate, here are some photos from this morning.

Fog in the valley.


Desi and Lucy (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) warming up in the morning sun after the coldest night of the year so far.

A hen mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and her two suitors:



  1. Posted December 3, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Could watch Eagles all day!

  2. rickflick
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The eagles, with their shoulders lifted and the cold blue of the sky, seem like an old married couple reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed to make coffee. “You go”, “No, you go”.

    • Blue
      Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      heh.heh.heh: this — your, Mr rickflick, “dialogue” is just precious ! ’tis from Ms Diana MacPh – style’s anthropomorphic playbook, not?


      • rickflick
        Posted December 3, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Ms MacPh is my mentor and guru.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          God help you!

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted December 3, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      There is at least one perched in this spot about 80% of the daylight hours, outside of nesting season when they’re too busy to layabout.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Those basswood leaf miners have pretty exoskeletons!

  4. GBJames
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Lovely. I especially like the carapace(?) of the leaf miner beetles. Jewels!

  5. S.A. native
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m being extra dense this morning, but how do we submit photos?

    • Posted December 3, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Just Google my name and University, and my University webpage should come up with my email address on it. Use that.

  6. ichneumonid
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Lovely photos of the insects in particular. The Megarhyssa is a favourite of mine – a similar species, M. nortoni, is established as a biocontrol agent for another horn tail wasp, Sirex noctilio, in Australia. The pose of the lesser grapevine looper may also indicate that it was ‘calling’ – emitting a pheromone to attract mates (although it would usually also be fluttering its wings to help disperse the pheromone).

  7. Diane G.
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Mark–the more I enlarge that ichneumonid pic the sharper it gets! Utterly fascinating. Following those ovipositor loops around I think I might see a mite on one? Or is that even possible? How is the ovipositor carried when not in use? (Having trouble interpreting that guitar pick as well…)

    Those leaf miner beetles are beautiful!

    (BTW, I’ll bet those ducks were just as happy as clams at high tide; the waterfowl/ice relationship is hard to imagine, even when you’re watching it. 😉 )

  8. Diane G.
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Stephen, thanks for sending an enlargeable version of that fog-scape–what superb lighting! Love the color scheme as well. (And everything else.)

  9. Mike
    Posted December 5, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I think it was one of the members of the ichneumon family that set David Attenborough on his way to becoming an Athiest.

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