Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Blood Moon Over Waterman Farm

This morning we were treated to a full lunar eclipse. Steve and I grabbed our gear and headed to Waterman Farm to do some photography. This image is my favorite from the morning

Sunday, October 05, 2014

First light for my Canon MP-E65 mm lens

I met my students from the "Communicating Science Through Photography" seminar at Sharon Woods yesterday morning. It was a cold and blustery Autumn morning with temperatures in the 40's (°F for my non-American readers), and rain and sleet coming down at various intervals. The wind made it challenging for macro photography, but I had something in mind that wouldn't matter if the wind was shaking the subject around.  Steve gave me an early birthday present - a Canon MP-E65 mm lens! This is an extreme macro lens that goes from life size (1X) to five times that magnification (5X). I already had the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX flash system, which is a must have for this lens, and so I decided to give the new lens first light on a patch of lichen that was growing at the base of a large oak tree.


I thought I was just going to be doing some texture/geometry photos, but I actually saw something I've never seen before - a tiny bark mushroom (Mycena corticola), peeking out from behind a lichen. So, here's one of the first images from the new lens. It's a real challenge to use, as most people who have tried it will agree. First of all, you focus this lens by moving it into position - no autofocus, no manual focus ring - just move into place until the subject is in focus. Easier said than done, and my first images could be much better if I had been using a tripod and focusing rail. That will be the next steps. I think I'm going to love the challenge of exploring the microscopic world, though.

Bark mushroom (Mycena corticola) - Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2014. Please do not use this image without my permission.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

More from Whetstone Prairie

I took my "Communicating Science Through Photography" students to Whetstone Prairie yesterday. It was our first fieldtrip of the semester, and the prairie was the perfect place to do nature photography. Late summer is the time for sunflowers, grasses, Queen Anne's Lace, ragweed, a variety of cone flowers, and many other prairie species to be in bloom. The goldfinches and hummingbirds were very active in the prairie, and we saw a huge variety of insects and spiders.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from yesterday:

Chines mantis - a species introduced by accident in 1896 (a Philadelphia nurseryman). This is a female who was at least 5 inches long - and these large individuals can catch and eat a small hummingbird.

A megachilid bee, I think. I love the iridescent appearance of these small bees.

Same bee as bove - foraging on Rudbeckia (black-eyed susan)

Chauliognathus pensylvanicus - Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.
One of the many species of beetles that do "mess and spoil" pollination in the prairie.

Acanalonia bivittata - I love pant hoppers! This one was inside a developing  infructescence of Queen Anne's Lace.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Insects from Whetstone Prairie - 2014

I've been finding mostly the same insects around my garden, so I decided to branch out and visit Whetstone Prairie. The variety of plants there is very good, which means that there should be a good diversity of insects as well. I didn't spend a lot of time since we had a party to go to Saturday evening, but I managed to find some different beetles and bugs, and lots of activity on the flowers. I'll have to spend some quality time there later on this summer.  I also need to get the identifications on most of these insects. I'll post an update when I have some names to go along with the photos.

Here's a sampler of what I saw at Whetstone Prairie:
Bombus on purple coneflower. The pollen load she's carrying is a wonder to behold.
Unidentified beetle - very colorful

Honeybee on beebalm
Carpenter bee on beebalm
 (blister beetle - Epicautus sp.)

Honeybee on purple coneflower

Conopidae flies and  passenger - not sure what was going on here, but it certainly caught my eye.

Another beetle

flesh fly

Some type of bug - in the literal sense of Hemiptera - the true bugs. I like the white stripes along the edges of the carapace and on the legs. Very elegant. (White-margined burrower bug: Sehirus cinctus)

cricket nymph

Asian multicolored lady beetle. Many of our native species are disappearing, so every  time I see a lady beetle, I try to photograph it to see what species it might be. I've not seen a native species in Ohio after a few years of looking. You'll notice some fungus on the wing covers - apparently this doesn't seem to bother the beetle very much.

Another true bug of some sort.

another species of beetle

Yellow-faced bee, I think. (Hylaeus modest us)

A shield bug - not the invasive brown marmorated stinkbug, though.

False Milkweed bug - Lygaeus turcicus

Lightning bug - I saw several of these beetles perches like this - maybe releasing pheromones?

A nymph of some species - looks like an interesting insect. It's on a grey coneflower.

Diabrotica cristata

I was glad to see so many honeybees at work.
A plant hopper of some sort

Friday, July 11, 2014

From my garden series - Interesting insects part 2

I've been experimenting with my twin flash, Canon 100 mm f/2.8L lens, and two extension tubes. It's much more challenging to maneuver close to an insect with such a large contraption on the end of the camera, and I've discovered that the long legged flies do not like the flash at all. Everytime I click the shutter button and the flash begins, the flies jump. Sometimes I get lucky and the fly is still in focus, as you'll see below. 

Here's what I saw yesterday evening:

Lucilia sp. - a beneficial insect for the garden.

longhorn grasshopper - aka tree cricket. This is a nymph.

Red aphids - fortunately, I've only seen these on a weed that has taken over some brickwork.

Condylostylus sipho - female - long legged flies do not like the flash!

Flesh fly - Sarcophaga sp.

Harvestman - aka Daddy Longlegs. Not a spider - closer to a scorpion than a spider.

Bombus impatiens - visiting my purple coneflowers

I've never seen a dragonfly in the garden before, so this was a welcome addition to my collection...

Another harvestman

Cute leaf hopper - I've learned where these guys hang out in the front garden.
No clue as to the moth or butterfly species, but this caterpillar is happily chomping on my crassula in the front garden.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

From my garden series - interesting insects

Since dusting off my Canon 100mm/f2.8 L macro lens last week, I've been finding a lot of interesting bugs in the garden.  I'm particularly interested in the diversity of fly species - most of them predatory on other insects, some are nectar or pollen feeders, though.  I showed some of these photos to my son and he was creeped out.  I guess some people aren't into interesting critters, eh? When you look closely at insects, you see how marvelously they are adapted to their realm. The specialized mouth parts, defense structures, eyes, antennae, genitalia - all are so different than what we're used to seeing in mammals, birds, fish, and insects. Viva la diffĂ©rence!

Here's a sampling of my bug menagerie that inhabits my garden:

Hover Fly aka Syrphid Fly - larvae are predators, adults feed on nectar and/or pollen. Are used as biocontrol agents for aphids. In other words - a good insect for the garden.

Bombus impatiens - one of the bumblebee species found in Ohio. All pollinators are welcome to my garden.

Another hover fly or syrphid fly - Toxomerus marginatus

Long legged fly - Condylostylus sipho - male. This is another predatory fly. They like to hang out on leaves.

Female long legged fly - Condylostylus sipho

Snipe fly - don't know which species, but this is another predatory insect.

Cluster fly - a species of Pollenia. The larvae of cluster flies are parasites of earthworms. The adults can be pests in the house in that they like to overwinter in homes. Although they resemble house flies, they are not harmful to humans or pets. Notice how the wings are folded as the fly is at rest? This is a big difference from house flies.

Lonhorn grasshopper nymph - female. Scudderia sp. These are also known as bush katydids. They chomp on garden plants, so they're not particularly helpful to the garden. They are kind of cute, though.

Toxomerus marginatus - I like the dramatic setting with the light on my boxwood - lots of shade in the background.

Japanese beetle - Popillia japonica - definitely a garden pest. They eat everything! I actually think they're beautiful to look at, but they are not welcome in my garden.

Red aphids - I've only seen them on weeds thus far, but they are not welcome on my vegetables and ornamentals.

This is a nymph of the brown marmorated stinkbug - another invasive garden pest. They are definitely interesting in appearance, though.

Orb weaver spider (Neoscona crucifera?) eating a scarab beetle. It's hanging out on one of my crassula plants.
I've received most of my insect identifications from BugGuide.

Some more insects are posted here: Scenes from my garden - July 2014