Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not just people

with 25 comments

Click for greater clarity.

It isn’t just people who are drawn to the white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora. Here’s a spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, that I found on one of the poppy’s diaphanous petals in St. Edward’s Park two days ago. This kind of beetle doesn’t seem to have 11 spots, as the species name implies, but 11 times the 2 of two days ago is 22, and today is April 22, and that date this year happens to be Earth Day, so here’s a second photograph—an entomologicofloral photograph—to celebrate two of life’s kingdoms on Earth Day.

Those of you interested in photography as a craft will find that points 1, 2, 8, 18, and 19 in About My Techniques apply to this image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2012 at 2:52 PM

25 Responses

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  1. wow, fantastic capture Steve!!!

    H2O by Joanna

    April 22, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    • Thanks, Joanna. The beetle was walking around, but I waited it out and eventually managed to take four pictures before it moved away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      • and you use a macrolens I assume? May I ask you what kind of lens you would recommend? I am looking (and saving money) for one…but there are SOOOOO many on the market…

        H2O by Joanna

        April 22, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      • Because I have a Canon body, the choice was either a Canon lens or a third-party lens from a company like Tamron or Sigma, which make good lenses that are usually less expensive than those by name brands like Canon and Nikon. I’d been using a Canon 100 mm macro lens for several years, so when I upgraded I stayed with what was familiar: still Canon, but with image stabilization that the earlier model lacked. The closer you focus, though, the less the stabilization does anything, so if you plan to take mostly very close photographs with a macro lens, image stabilization may not be much of an advantage and you could buy a lens without it, especially a used one, for a lot less money.

        If you’d like thorough and unbiased reviews of camera equipment, I recommend


        Steve Schwartzman

        April 22, 2012 at 3:56 PM

  2. Running out of superlatives, here. Extraordinary shot.

    Susan Scheid

    April 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

  3. I love to get a bonus, especially one this nice!


    April 22, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    • Thanks. I didn’t want you to have to say that a bonus is beyond your ken (and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to play with that word).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

  4. This is a fantastic macro! I love seeing little things like this!

    Michael Glover

    April 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    • Thanks, Michael. I see lots of little things like this when I’m photographing flowers. I’ve shown some of them in posts over the 10 months of this blog, and I’ll keep showing them from time to time as a balance to the many pictures of flowers and plants per se.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 5:13 PM

  5. Diaphanous! That’s the word I was looking for when I saw your photo of the Heller’s plantain. The plantain blooms still look like mayflies to me, but “diaphanous” is a better description than “translucent”. Well, for me, at least.

    The beetle’s really a cutie. It amazes me that you can let us even count the segments on an insect’s antennae. And of course I love “entomologicofloral”. Nice. 😉


    April 22, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    • Yes, diaphanous is a good or even better word—maybe I should write a post about it for my language blog.

      The beetle is indeed arithmetical, as you can count its spots and antennae segments. Given the math I recounted in the text of this post, I’d thought about using the adjective arithmeticoentomologicofloral but I restrained myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 5:37 PM

  6. I’ve never been great at math.. what in his name refers to 11? I love this flower.. and not usually a fan of bugs.. but this guy’s awfully cute!!

    Just A Smidgen

    April 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    • Arithmetic is cute, too, even if it has bugged you! Latin undecim meant eleven (un- was one, decem was ten), and punctum meant a dot or a spot, therefore the made-up species name undecimpunctata means eleven-spotted. The sources I found online claim that each half of this beetle’s wing covering has six spots, so the species name seems to come up one short. However, in other photographs that I’ve recently taken of this species I can see that the two central spots closest to the beetle’s head aren’t separated and merge into a single spot, making eleven-spotted a reasonable description.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM

  7. […] prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, in a large and dense colony. Then you got a close view of the outside of one of the poppy’s diaphanous petals. Now let’s float up and over, then hover to look straight down into the center of one of […]

  8. Fantastic macro. It’s very effective with the dark beetle on the white flower with the black background.


    April 23, 2012 at 6:05 AM

    • Thank you, Victoria. This is one of those cases where the background wasn’t really black, but only rendered black (as the camera sensor saw it) by comparison with the brightness of the white petals. The black became an effective element of isolation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2012 at 7:14 AM

  9. Super shot Steve!!!


    April 23, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    • Thanks, David. I’ve been seeing quite a few of these beetles lately. I’ve also photographed them in years past, but never one in this sort of pose.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM

  10. Although I don’t much appreciate insects in my gardens, I do love the variety of their species and always had an insect “Zoo” in my classrooms. This is a fabulous photo with its dramatic contrast and a touch of buggy yellow for punctuation.
    ~ Lynda
    (Whose B-Day also happens to be on Earth Day, and who spent her whole day planting in the gardens. It seemed the appropriate thing to do! 😉 )


    April 23, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    • Happy Birthday + 1, Lynda. Your gardening was certainly appropriate for Earth Day. And speaking of planting and agriculture, people often have it in for cucumber beetles, which can damage crops. These insects look somewhat like differently colored lady beetles but aren’t so beneficial.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM

  11. Patience must be your middle name! Stunning work!


    April 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    • Thanks, Marianna. As I don’t have a middle name, perhaps I should go to the county courthouse and add Patience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2012 at 5:02 PM

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