Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mark Sturtevant sent some nice insect photos; his captions are indented.

I have a new crop of pictures here taken last summer. I hope you enjoy them.

The first two pictures feature female Eastern amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera) These are very small—and I think adorable—dragonflies with heads that look like they could go into a cartoon. Males are beautifully highlighted by solid amber wings, but like many Odonates the males are more shy about being approached. I have several close-up pictures of females as they are pretty tolerant of me, but I have so far failed to get acceptable pictures of a male.

1amberwing1

2amberwing2

Next is the rather weird long-tailed dance fly, Rhamphomyia longicauda. These insects have an interesting mating behavior which I would really like to see. Males entice females to mate by catching a small insect and presenting it to her as a ‘nuptial gift’. Males prefer to choose females with a lot of eggs, and I have read that females sometimes inflate their abdomen with air to entice males to choose them.

3dancefly

Here’s a remarkably plain and rather worn-out looking butterfly: the hackberry emperor (Astrocampa celtis).

4emperorbutterfly

This is the two-spotted treehopper (Enchenopa binotata). It is perhaps trying to blend in with the thorns of a wild rose.

5hopper2

And finally, I had been getting my feet wet last summer because I had previously neglected to take pictures of the many insects that inhabit the water surface. In truth, I had been avoiding that because I really hate hanging over or standing in water with my camera. But this water strider (Aquarius remigis) was in only a few inches of water, and I took the chance. These very familiar predatory insects are famous for skating around on the water surface tension, and they use the water much like how a spider uses its web to catch insects. If an insect falls into the water, its struggles will send out little waves that are detected by the water strider. If hungry, the strider will zip over and make a meal of it. The adults of this species are almost always wingless, but other species can have wings.

6waterstrider

8 Comments

  1. rickflick
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Very graceful shots. It’s remarkable that these insects have eyes bigger than their heads. I’m sure that’s wonderfully adaptive. I can’t help imagining human beings equipped this way. It would clearly be a bit of a nuisance. Especially where corrective lenses are required. The compound eyes might make reading faster as words could be addressed in parallel.

    OK, sorry. I’m going back to bed now.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Larger eyes should require a larger visual center in the brain. So if we had that, we would not be very smart, I think.

  2. darrelle
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Great set of pics Mark. That treehopper is so cool looking. It looks as if it came from the same artist that created the Kaiju for the movie Pacific Rim.

  3. bugfolder
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Fantastic pix, Mark. I especially love the delicacy of the water strider. (Delicate, but on its own scale, as ferocious as a crocodile going after a gnu ;o)).

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Great work Mark. I love the heads of insects like dragonflies too, especially when they’re cocked to the side to check you out.

  5. Bruce Lyon
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Love the treehopper—treehoppers are such interesting and charismatic insects (parental care, ant tending, bizarre head structures in some species…..)

  6. Dominic
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Very nice – thanks for sharing.

  7. Christopher Bonds
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    As a boy I was fascinated by water striders and how incredibly quickly they could skate over the surface of the water. We summered often at a small lake in eastern Arizona, where I would sit on a rock and watch them for hours.


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