Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘insect

Bumblebee on fireweed flowers

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From August 30th in Glacier National Park, here’s a bumblebee on some fireweed flowers. The way the bumblebee flitted about on the fireweed reminds me now of the way botanists have been flitting about in some of their classifications. They’ve dubbed fireweed Epilobium angustifolium, Chamerion angustifolium, and most recently Chamaenerion angustifolium. Oh well, that which we call fireweed, by any other name would have flowers that look as good—assuming you’re close enough. After one view of wilted flowers and another of fresh ones from a bit of a distance, you’re finally getting a proper look at some fireweed flowers.

If you’d like to see the many places that fireweed grows in North America, check out the zoomable USDA map. I’d thought of this as a species from the Northwest and Canada and Alaska, and so was glad to finally encounter it on this trip. Now I’m surprised to learn that fireweed grows in 38 out of the 50 states in the United States. That range doesn’t include Texas but it does include Long Island, where I grew up.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2017 at 4:34 AM

Bedstraw hawkmoth caterpillar

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While walking around a stretch of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, on September 7th, we encountered a handsome caterpillar on a fireweed plant (Chamaenerion or Chamerion or Epilobium angustifolium). A member of bugguide.net identified, and another at Butterflies and Moths of North America later confirmed, my subject as the larva of Hyles gallii, a type of Sphinx moth known as a bedstraw hawkmoth.

A few of you may remember the forlorn Hyles lineata moth that appeared here in 2012.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2017 at 4:52 AM

Like a green snake in the water

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The sinuous algae you see here looked to me on July 25th, and still today, like a green snake in the water of Bull Creek. Notice the tiny aquatic insects. The leaf may be from a cedar elm tree (Ulmus crassifolia).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2017 at 4:37 AM

Strange white stuff

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Finding sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) along creeks in Austin is commonplace. When I looked at this sycamore leaf along Bull Creek on July 25th I saw something I’d noticed once before, years earlier, but had never tracked down. Val Bugh came to the rescue this time: “the white stuff is a secretion that a female dobsonfly uses to cover her egg masses. Makes them look like bird droppings. The leaf should be over water so the hatchling hellgrammites will drop in.”

Me, I can’t help thinking the Hellgrammites were once a religious sect of the fire-and-brimstone type. In fact the American Heritage Dictionary says that the first part of the word probably is indeed hell, based on the insect’s painful bite. And we remember the old adage that hell hath no fury like a female dobsonfly scorned.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 3, 2017 at 4:40 AM

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Rocky Mountain beeweed

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As if to corroborate the common name Rocky mountain beeweed, I found a native bee on these flowers of Cleome serrulata at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in northern New Mexico on June 12th. An online article about this species notes that other vernacular names for the plant are stinking-clover, bee spider-flower, skunk weed, Navajo spinach, and guaco. This wildflower is a relative of the clammyweed that grows in Austin.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2017 at 4:50 AM

A floral balance at Kasha-Katuwe

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In addition to balanced rocks at Kasha-Katuwe in northern New Mexico on June 12th, here’s a balanced jimsonweed flower (Datura wrightii). Note the tiny native bee on the left side of the flower.

I’d pulled off to the side of the entrance road to photograph the jimsonweed and had barely gotten out of my car when a tribal policeman stopped his patrol car to see what I was up to. I guess very few visitors pull over at a place that doesn’t offer a view of the rock formations.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2017 at 4:48 AM

A tiny fly on narrowleaf penstemon flowers

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It was late in the afternoon on May 28th and the wind had picked up at the top of Scott’s Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. Concentrating on the tiny fly that became my subject once I noticed it, I had to let most of the flowers fade out of focus in order for the fly to stay sharp. The flowers are Penstemon angustifolius, called narrowleaf penstemon or narrowleaf beardtongue. Call the photographer Nimbletongue Beardface and you might not be far wrong.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2017 at 5:00 AM

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