Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not a snail

with 15 comments

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As I walked in Lockhart State Park on November 3rd, I eyed the bright red fruit of some Carolina snailseed, a common vine in central Texas. Then I thought I saw a tiny snail some distance away on another vine, Clematis drummondii, and I was taken with the idea of a snail near some snailseed. When I got closer, though, I quickly saw that the snail wasn’t a snail. No, it was clearly the larva of an insect, but I had no idea what kind. I e-mailed Val Bugh (thanks, Val) and she told me it’s probably Labidomera clivicollis, a milkweed leaf beetle. Call this critter one strange dude if you like: I don’t think it will object, and I won’t either.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2012 at 6:16 AM

15 Responses

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  1. Steve, this was such a clearly shot specimen, that I was able to expand him to fill the screen. It would seem that the little brown dots along its side are his spiracles! I have often wondered why some insects display a color change around their breathing holes. I think it couldn’t be just decoration.


    November 26, 2012 at 6:59 AM

  2. And look – toward the end of this little guy, the next-to-last spiracle isn’t colored. It’s barely visible, but it’s there. At least I think I see it.

    He reminds me of that wonderful green leaf-munching caterpillar you showed us some weeks ago. I think it’s those stubby little legs – and the mouth. 😉


    November 26, 2012 at 9:16 AM

  3. What a keen eye you have. This is one odd looking insect. So glad I could meet the little fella- through your mono photograph. Speaking of Carolina snailseed. Have you posted any photos of the berries? Most likely you have, I think the berries are pretty. I just don’t know where to begin looking in your archives.


    November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    • No, Carolina snailseed is one of those species that are common here but that I haven’t yet featured—unless you count the red glow beyond the larva in today’s picture, which is snailseed fruit out of focus.

      If you come to the website (as opposed to an e-mail version of a post), in the upper right of the page there’s a box that says “Search on this site.” You can enter a word there, e.g. snailseed, and when you click the Search button the search engine will look through every post in this blog and will show all the hits in a scrolling list.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM

  4. Looks like a combination of mis-matched parts. Enjoyed.


    November 26, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    • I like your description of “a combination of mis-matched parts.” But then, what might this creature think of the way we’re put together?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

  5. What a beautiful portrait, Steve!


    November 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    • I’m glad you see it that way, especially as the subject is of a type that my father used to describe as “only a mother could love.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM

  6. Who knew there were that many calories in milkweed!


    November 28, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    • That’s a good inference; I hadn’t put two and two together and come up with all that chubbiness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2012 at 5:38 AM

  7. […] Today marks the first time here that you’ve been afforded a clear look at a snailseed vine. In 2012 an out-of-focus snailseed fruit provided a red glow behind a strange-looking larva. […]

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