Readers’ wildlife photos

I am dispirited today in light of the horrors of Las Vegas (and Edmonton and Marseille), but maybe some photos can lift our spirits a bit. These are from crack insect photographer Mark Sturtevant, whose notes are indented:

Here are some more pictures of insects that were taken over this summer. We begin with a few pictures that I got with the help of using CO2 to temporarily anesthetize an active insect. This is a simple method where an Alka Seltzer tablet is immersed in water to release this gas, and the immobilized insect is then put onto a stage. When they recover, the insect is ‘mellow’ for a period of time while still looking normal, and one can take pictures. This protocol is described here in case anyone is interested.

The first insect is a small Ichneumon wasp (Messatoporus rufiventris). This one allowed me very little time before it took off (but it was more time than I would otherwise have with this super-hyper insect).

The two pictures that follow is a tiny Chalcidid wasp (Conura side). This subject just sat for a long time after it woke up, and all it wanted to do was clean itself. I rather like the interesting poses. Chalcidid wasps are parasitic, as are Ichneumon wasps. Chalcidid wasps apparently seize their prey with their large hind femora while they insert an egg into them. (Conura side).

The next two pictures are of ebony jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata), which are beautiful insects that are common along forest rivers and streams. The striking metallic green and blue colors of the males are a bit variable, as some individuals seem more metallic green while others have a lot of metallic blue. However, it is a bit tricky to capture their color accurately as they prefer shady forested areas, but use of a flash to take their picture will alter their color. I have been experimenting with ways to take pictures that preserve their natural color, and here are some results. The first was taken without a flash, so the color came out pretty accurately in this nice blue male. The damselfly and the leaf are manually combined from different pictures to get more in focus. The second picture is of the same damselfly, but here I gingerly used a bounced flash at low power to get more light on the insect. You can see that even this slight addition of artificial light changed the color, but this is still pretty accurate in the sense that many jewelwings are metallic green like this one now appears. The picture was also stitched together from different pictures.

The next picture is a flower longhorn beetle (Analeptura lineola).

The mysterious and rather large dragonfly in the next picture had settled on a perch high in a tree on a chilly morning after a huge thunderstorm. At the time I was trying out my new 1.4X tele-extender on an old zoom lens, and for some reason I also took out a tripod and remote shutter cable that day – something I very rarely do. I don’t think I could have gotten the shot without that equipment. An expert on a different forum identified it as a female mocha emerald (Somatochlora linearis). In later weeks I saw this one several more times patrolling the same area but she would never land.

This posting is wrapped up with some cute little grasshoppers. It took some time to figure out how to best stalk and photograph these little jumpers that were terming in tall grass, but I eventually found that all I had to do was herd them past a large dead log, and then turn around and photograph the ones that had hopped onto the log. The first two I think are differential grasshoppers (Melanoplus differentialis) Their colors are variable, and it can be hard to distinguish them from the related red-legged ‘hopper nymphs.

The last two are teeny band-winged grasshoppers. Just look at these little cuties! This field has no less than FOUR species of band-wings, but these are most likely the Carolina grasshopperDissosteira carolina.



  1. Posted October 2, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    You never forget your first ebony jewelwing damselfly. Stunning, stunning creatures.

  2. Debbie Coplan
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I just love the delicacy and detail of these gorgeous photos and critters. Beautiful!

  3. Jacques Hausser
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Quite beautifull pictures – and thank you for sharing your methods ! I was frequently wishing for something like that – I’ll buy Alka Seltzer right today !

  4. W.Benson
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Trump will be speaking shortly about the massacre in Las Vegas. Who will he blame?

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    How did you get those tiny white wristbands on the Ichneumon wasp?

    Terrific pictures.

  6. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Yes, those ebony jewel winged damselflies are lovely. I looked up band-winged grasshoppers to see what their wings were like — very cool.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 2, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I will be showing the four species I see here in a later post.

  7. nicky
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I would not be surpised that much of their beauty is due to sexual selection. (The displays of birds of paradise are a God case in point).
    Kind of intriguing that we humans are also appealed by it, albeit hardly from a sexual pov.

  8. nicky
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    ‘good’ not ‘God’, is the spellchecker infected with a religion virus?

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable post Mark, and excellent pics as always.

  10. Posted October 3, 2017 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Very nice, thanks.

  11. Posted October 3, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Awesome, as usual. That ichneumon is just gorgeous (and obviously, the damselfly too).

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