Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A red theme

with 24 comments

Wanderers through countryside with lots of prickly pears (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) know that the cactus often attracts certain bugs. This is one of those, Narnia femorata, on a tuna, or fruit of the prickly pear cactus, in the Zilker Nature Preserve seven years ago today. The bug is a nymph in one of its early instars, which are the developmental stages that the larva of an insect passes through. Click below if you’d like a closer look at the bug as it appeared in a different frame.

Although Texas in the summer of 2011 was suffering one of its worst droughts in decades, when I recently looked back at my archive for August 12th of that year I saw that I went photographing in four locations that day and ended up with hundreds of pictures, like this one along Scenic Drive of ripe snailseed fruit (Cocculus carolinus):

I also found from looking at my archive that I went out taking pictures on 19 of the 31 days in that torrid August of 2011. You could say that I lived up to the motto of the USPS (United States Photographic Service): “Neither heat nor drought nor sun nor sweat stays these intrepid image gatherers from the due documentation of their appointed rounds.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2018 at 4:49 AM

24 Responses

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  1. I don’t remember C.S. Lewis mentioning leaf-footed bugs, but then my memory isn’t what it once was.

    Steve Gingold

    August 12, 2018 at 6:17 AM

    • The lighting on the snailseed fruit is lovely.

      Steve Gingold

      August 12, 2018 at 6:18 AM

    • Ha! But what is the connection with Narnia? Someone from Narnia, Italy?


      August 12, 2018 at 7:00 AM

      • The Wikipedia article about The Chronicles of Narnia says this:

        “The name Narnia is based on Narni, Italy, written in Latin as Narnia. Green wrote:

        “When Walter Hooper asked [C. S. Lewis] where he found the word ‘Narnia’, Lewis showed him Murray’s Small Classical Atlas, ed. G.B. Grundy (1904), which he acquired when he was reading the classics with Mr Kirkpatrick at Great Bookham [1914–1917]. On plate 8 of the Atlas is a map of ancient Italy. Lewis had underscored the name of a little town called Narnia, simply because he liked the sound of it. Narnia — or ‘Narni’ in Italian — is in Umbria, halfway between Rome and Assisi.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 12, 2018 at 8:12 AM

        • Yes, I had seen that too. Still haven’t found a connection to the bug but who knows, the person who named it might just have been fond of Lewis’ work.

          Steve Gingold

          August 12, 2018 at 8:19 AM

    • Ah, good for you. I’d thought of mentioning C.S. Lewis but decided to wait and see if a commenter brought it up. You did. See more in my reply to Gallivanta, below about why Lewis chose the name. I haven’t found anything to explain the name as a genus of bug.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2018 at 8:15 AM

  2. Steve, your dedication to the USPS is examplary. I hope they give you a very good pension.


    August 12, 2018 at 7:02 AM

    • I’m sure they would… if they existed. Given that the national debt of the United States has risen past $22 trillion (that’s about $64,500 per person), I don’t think there’ll be a new Photographic Service.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2018 at 8:43 AM

  3. Cheers for the USPS! And nice round images.

    Robert Parker

    August 12, 2018 at 7:10 AM

  4. That was quite a summer: no question. When I look at my own posts from that time, lack of rain, hopes for rain, and the arrival of rain all are represented.

    The snailseed’s lovely. The dark background gives the berries an elegance that wouldn’t be apparent at first glance in the wild. I remember first meeting the plant in 2015, when a loop of it hanging in a tree gave rise to an etheree. I need to find it again, and take some additional photos. Let’s just say the one I took in 2015 doesn’t impress me quite as much today as it did then.

    As for your membership in the USPS, this member of the USVS salutes you.


    August 12, 2018 at 8:32 AM

    • Thanks for the photographic salute. If snailseed’s as common in your area as it is here, you shouldn’t have to wait long for a chance to make new and better portraits of it.

      Did you notice the rhyme in “a loop of it hanging in a tree gave rise to an etheree”?

      And speaking of drought, we finally got a little rain here yesterday, along with a chance for a little more today.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 12, 2018 at 9:52 AM

  5. Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri was one of those names that came up when I was trying to key out the prickly pear that I brought back from Oklahoma. I never did identify it, but it know it is not that particular variety. It is smaller, and does not stand up very well. It does not have long thorns, but just those obnoxious fuzzy spines. It is not all that important that I do not know the name. I really like it.


    August 13, 2018 at 7:14 PM

    • This is a very common prickly pear in central Texas. You can hardly go anywhere in nature here without seeing it. You’re right that those fuzzy spines, known technically as glochids, are obnoxious, much more of a hazard to people than the long spines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2018 at 10:01 PM

  6. Wonderful photos Steve.. love the colours and textures.


    August 16, 2018 at 2:58 PM

    • Fortunately these colors and textures exist right here in Austin, and even in the hottest part of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2018 at 5:09 PM

  7. Your photos are a pure delight and so as the comments. So interesting to learn about the link with C.S. Lewis. Je pense que je vais devenir accro à ton blogue!

    3C Style

    August 17, 2018 at 7:13 PM

    • Thanks again. I, too, learn a lot from the people who comment here.
      Je ne connaissais pas le mot accro mais j’ai trouvé que c’est une forme abrégée de accroché. En anglais on fait la même allusion en disant hooked.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2018 at 8:22 PM

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