Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘insect

Blister beetle on Penstemon cobaea

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On April 8th in Round Rock I came across this blister beetle in the genus Pyrota, apparently P. lineata or P. bilineata. The flower is the kind of foxglove, Penstemon cobaea, that you saw from farther back in a post here last month. Thanks to bugguide.net for identifying the genus of the beetle.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2018 at 5:05 AM

A lily and a lady

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On April 17th I spent a while in the right-of-way beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle. There I photographed some of my springtime floral friends, including Schoenocaulon texanum, known as Texas sabadilla, Texas feathershank, and green lily (which is the name I know from Marshall Enquist’s book). The lily in green lily reflects the fact that botanists used to place this plant in the lily family, Liliaceae. Most botanists apparently now put the genus Schoenocaulon in the bunchflower family, Melanthiaceae.

On one of the green lily flower stalks that I noticed during my outing was a painted lady, Vanessa cardui, a species of butterfly about which I recently learned two things. The first, long known, is that it has a wide distribution around the world, including all continents except South America and Antarctica. The other thing, only recently discovered, is that the painted ladies in the UK fly all the way to Africa each autumn. According to the linked article, radar has revealed that “the butterflies are flying at altitudes up to 3,000 feet, which is why they were never spotted by humans, at speeds up to 30mph.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Bug nymph on four-nerve daisy

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In contrast to the willful four-nerve daisy flower head (Tetraneuris linearifolia) you saw last time, the flatness of this one that I found on the same April 1st outing had me aiming straight down at it.

You’ll remember that each “petal” of a daisy is actually an independent flower known as a ray flower. The rays (14 in this case) ray-diate out from the flower head’s center, which is made up of many smaller individual flowers of a different type, known as disk flowers. It’s common in daisies for the disk flowers to form overlapping spirals, some of which go out from the center in a clockwise sense, and others in a counter-clockwise sense. If you count the number of disk-flower spirals in each direction, you typically get consecutive Fibonacci numbers. There’s a confirmation of that in the following enlargements of this four-nerve daisy’s disk. Go ahead, count the number of spirals going each way and you’ll see:

In the unlikely event that anyone ever asks you if daisies know how to count, you can confidently and Fibonaccily say yes.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2018 at 4:35 AM

A different metamorphosis

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This morning I received a message from Judy Baumann saying she’d finished a quilt based on a monarch butterfly photograph that appeared here last fall and that you see repeated above. My reaction to Judy’s quilt was: Geometry meets lepidoptery. To see that happy geometric metamorphosis, click here and then on the picture of the quilt to enlarge it. Nice going, Judy.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Olive or juniper, take your pick

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Callophrys gryneus is known as an olive hairstreak or juniper hairstreak butterfly. I photographed this one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 14th. The plant is baby blue-eyes (Nemophila phacelioides). Notice the spiral at the tip of the opening bud near the right edge of the picture. If you’d like a much closer look at the butterfly and the flower it’s on, click the excerpt below to zoom in.

UPDATE on the previous post, which dealt with the strange events involving Josiah Wilbarger: On the website of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission I confirmed the surprising identity of the person who did the illustrations for Indian Depredations, including the woodcut of Wilbarger getting scalped. The artist was “T.J. Owen, better known as the author William Sydney Porter (O. Henry).”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2018 at 4:46 AM

Yellow in a photograph and yellow implied in words

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Above is a view from below of an Engelmann daisy (Engelmannia peristenia) flower head along Great Northern Blvd. on March 13th. Note the tiny insect, which I don’t remember seeing at the time I took the picture. Maybe we should stop saying “as blind as a bat” and start saying “as blind as a photographer.”

Below is a view from above of some adjacent Engelmann daisies. In both pictures, notice the notch at the tip of each ray flower.

The unrelated “yellow implied in words” that this post’s title alludes to comes from a multiply alliterative sentence in Tom Standage’s 2009 book An Edible History of Humanity, which I’m reading now: “A cultivated field of maize, or any other crop, is as man-made as a microchip, a magazine, or a missile.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2018 at 4:44 AM

From Monday to Wednesday

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On Monday evening, October 23rd, I bought a copy of John Abbott’s Damselflies of Texas. On Wednesday at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I photographed these two reddish damselflies in the penultimate stage of their mating sequence on a fern. Thanks to the field guide I’d so recently come home with, I identified them as desert firetails, Telebasis salva. They’re small, with a body length of from 24–29mm, or roughly one inch.

I see that the Spanish name for this damselfly is caballito del diablo. That means ‘little horse of the devil,’ presumably because of the red color. If you’d like to see more details of these little devil’s horses, click the excerpt below.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2017 at 7:40 AM

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