Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 13th, 2011

Just can’t get enough of those sunflowers

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Sunflowers, Helianthus annuus.

Headed out this morning intending to go back to the sunflower colony I visited last Friday; took a circuitous route; got waylayed by another sunflower colony that, like Bob Dylan’s answer, my friends, was blowing in the wind; never made it to the intended goal, but who cares?

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Look here for information about Helianthus annuus, including a clickable map showing where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Predation on the rays of a sunflower

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Crab spider biting a tiny caterpillar

Although lady beetles eat aphids and other insects, I’ve seldom seen them do so. In contrast, I often come across the remains of spiders’ meals in their webs, and sometimes I find their prey still live in their grasp. I witnessed one such encounter on an early sunflower a month ago in the prairie restoration at Austin’s old Mueller Airport. You can get an idea of the scale of the little drama shown in the photograph from the fact that the body of the crab spider, which Spider Joe Lapp has identified in a comment below as Mecaphesa dubia, was less than half an inch long from fore to aft. I watched for a good while as the tiny caterpillar continued to writhe in a vain attempt to break loose from the spider’s firm grip, a grip that never faltered even as the spider dragged the caterpillar around on the sunflower from time to time in response to my close presence and movements as I kept taking pictures.

Update on August 23, 2011: Valerie Bugh has identified the tiny (and doomed) caterpillar as belonging to the flower moth genus Schinia.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2011 at 6:45 AM

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