Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘insects

More turn-of-the-year wildflowers in my neighborhood

with 20 comments

Like the Ageratina havanensis that you saw two posts back, Viguiera dentata blooms in the fall and increasingly into the winter. Common names for this species include plateau goldeneye, sunflower goldeneye, and just plain goldeneye. It’s not uncommon for yellow daisy-type flower heads to open asymmetrically, as the one shown here was doing on December 16th in my neighborhood. The same goldeneye bushes were still displaying flowers on the day 2022 began.

△        △        △

See what you make of each of these. Are any more logical or plausible than any of the others?

  • This is Daniel. He was born 10 years ago. That means that everyone thinks he’s 10 years old. Only now he’s grown old enough to tell everyone that he’s actually an adult and is entitled to get married, vote, and buy alcoholic beverages.
  • This is Maria. She was born in Italy to Italian parents who trace their Italian lineage back 500 years. This means that when she was born everyone thought she was Italian. Until she grew a little older — old enough to tell everyone that she’s actually Japanese.
  • This is Juan. He was born to a human mother and a human father, so everyone thought he was a human boy. Until he grew older — old enough to bark and tell everyone that he’s actually a dog.
  • This is Mark. He has been a truck driver his whole adult life. That means everyone believes he drives trucks for a living. But now he’s gone to the White House to reveal that he’s actually the President of the United States.
  • This is Ruthie. She’s a transgender girl. That means when she was born, everyone thought she was a boy. Until she grew a little older — old enough to tell everyone that she’s actually a girl.

   

The third of those fits a rare condition called clinical lycanthropy, in which people believe themselves to be animals. “Canines are certainly not uncommon, although the experience of being transformed into a hyena, cat, horse, bird or tiger has been reported on more than one occasion. Transformation into frogs, and even bees, has been reported in some instances.”

The fourth of those could indicate schizophrenia, symptoms of which sometimes include delusions of grandeur. Approximately 1.2% of Americans suffer from schizophrenia., including the primary subject of the excellent documentary “I Am Another You,” which we watched last night.

The fifth of those is actual text from the book It Feels Good to Be Yourself, which some elementary schools have put in their library. You can read about it in a December 22nd opinion piece by Betsy McCaughey in the New York Post. Researchers have estimated that 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender.

UPDATE: Here’s a follow-up on the last of those topics from Dr. Erika Anderson, who was the first transgender president of the US Professional Association for Transgender Health.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Insects on goldenrod

with 33 comments

From the morning of November 9th on the shore of the Riata Trace Pond, here are two views of flowering goldenrod plants, probably Solidago altissima. In the top photograph you may strain your eyes to make out the Ailanthus webworm moth (which I didn’t even notice when I took the picture), but you sure can’t miss the umbrella paper wasp (Polistes carolina) shown below.


✯      ✯

UPDATE. Last month I reported on the way the public schools in Wellesley, Massachusetts, were purposely segregating students by race. Now I’ve learned about intentional racial segregation in a New York City junior high school. Needless to say—except that I find myself having to say it—racial segregation has been illegal in American schools ever since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2021 at 4:24 AM

Beetle galleries

with 36 comments

While waiting on January 18th for a leaking tire to get dealt with I went for a one-hour walk, a main portion of which took me along Stonelake Blvd. north of Great Hills Trail. The properties lining both sides of the road there are owned by the University of Texas but have never been developed. At one point, only several feet in from the sidewalk I noticed a couple of leaning dead tree trunks whose outer bark had mostly come off and revealed in the phloem, or inner bark, the trails of insects that had lived there.

From an informative article I learned that those trails are known as beetle galleries because the insects that produce them are beetles. Another reason for the term is that the original sense of gallery was architectural, ‘a covered part of a building, commonly in the wings, used as an ambulatory or place for walking,’ and it’s the walking around of the insects that create the trails in the phloem. By a happy coincidence, the main current meaning of gallery also fits the fact that many people consider these designs to be works of art, specifically woodcarvings. To maintain the abstraction I’ve tightly cropped the photographs

I don’t know what local species produced the beetle galleries in these pictures, but you’re welcome to look at some characteristic galleries identified by species.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Dioxyna picciola

with 44 comments

During my time on the wildflowery embankment along Mopac at Braker Lane on March 18, I got in close to photograph the bud of a greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium. That’s when I noticed a tiny insect on it, not much more than 1/8 of an inch long (3mm). In looking more carefully, I realized I was seeing two insects, one on top of the other. Not recognizing them, I turned to Val Bugh, who quickly identified these for me as “the almost perpetually mating fruit flies… Dioxyna picciola. I think they don’t mate ALL the time, but they are so small that it is easier to notice them as a pair.” On the esthetic side, note the way the bud lines up with the center of a greenthread flower head. Note also the pleasant colors, including a little indigo from nearby bluebonnets. Below you get a better look at the action in a side view from a different frame.

Given the insects’ tiny size, the low light due to overcast skies, and the fact that the breeze moved the greenthread bud even as the flies sometimes moved about on it, I set a high ISO and a fast shutter speed and adopted the strategy of taking a bunch of pictures in the hope that a few of them would turn out okay. My minimally acceptable rate ended up being only one in six.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2020 at 4:26 AM

A world all its own

with 26 comments

Click to enlarge and see more details.

For several weeks I’d been noticing webworm (Hyphantria cunea) webs at the tips of tree branches. On the morning of June 25th, after the previous day’s rain, I was walking along an overgrown path in the southeast extension of St. Edward’s Park when I encountered a webworm web still covered with raindrops. I got in close to record the fantasy world. I don’t recall ever before taking a picture like this one. Happy new.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, points 1 and 15 in About My Techniques apply to this picture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Eight years

with 65 comments

On June 4, 2011, the first post in Portraits of Wildflowers went up. In commemoration, here’s one picture from each June in the first eight calendar years this series has been running. Clicking a photograph will take you back to the original post it appeared in so you can learn about or be reminded of the subject if you wish.

To inaugurate the June that began three days ago, after the eight pictures from yesteryear I’ve appended a picture of prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) from June 1st of this year at the intersection of RM 2222 and Mount Bonnell Rd. The dreaminess of the portrait belies the noise and heat I experienced.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2019 at 2:44 AM

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

Katydid nymph on yucca flower

with 25 comments

Katydid Nymph on Yucca Flower 5892

Click for greater clarity and size.

For the second post in a row, here’s a view from the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in Austin. The picture, which dates back to June 20, 2013, shows what I think is the nymph of a katydid, but if anyone knows otherwise, please speak up. The petal is definitely that of a yucca, probably Yucca rupicola. If you’d like an overview of how that species looks when it’s flowering, you can skip back to another post from 2013.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2018 at 4:30 AM

Mayday

with 27 comments

Today’s date reminds us that Mayday is a call of distress and a plea for help. Some help is what these conjoined flower heads of greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) could have used in warding off attacks from at least two kinds of insects: in the first picture I see several thrips and one tumbling flower beetle.

The view from the other side shows you how the two flower heads were conjoined. As far as I can remember, this was the first such greenthread I’d ever seen. From time to time I’ve shown instances of fasciation but it’s not clear if this twin flower head counts as that.

The date was April 16th and the location was the Blackland Prairie just east of Louis Henna Blvd. and Donnell Dr. in Round Rock.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2018 at 4:44 AM

The Black Hills of South Dakota

with 12 comments

On June 2nd I took this picture from well up on the slope of a mountain (was it Mount Coolidge?) in Custer State Park, which lies in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In addition to looking outward and far away, I looked downward and close, where I found pastel-colored rocks and lichens, brown pine needles and cones, and an entrance to an ant nest.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 5, 2017 at 4:44 AM

%d bloggers like this: