Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘mating

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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When I was in the greenbelt north of Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 2nd, and while I still had a telephoto lens on my camera from photographing the upper reaches of sycamore trees, I experimented with a few abstract pictures of the creek. After I noticed a water strider, I took this photograph:

Creek Surface Abstraction 6941

Viewing the picture back home later and enlarging on my monitor, I realized there were two water striders, one atop the other:

Water Striders 6941

The next morning, zooming in even more closely on the same picture, I noticed that what I’d thought was the upper water strider had two pairs of antennae, so in total there were three insects. The top two were apparently mating, but what the one below was doing is anyone’s guess.

Water Striders 6941 Detail

UPDATE: Prompted by Dee Smith’s comment, here’s an even closer view of the same photograph, though this degree of enlargement begins pushing the limits of resolution:

Water Striders Detail 6941

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 16, 2016 at 5:06 AM

Fiery passion

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Fiery Skippers Mating 5574

Fiery passion: while that title may sound like it belongs on a different kind of website, the description is accurate because these mating butterflies happen to be fiery skippers, Hylephila phyleus. You can see that this species is sexually dimorphic; the somewhat smaller male is on the left.

I took today’s photograph, the first of this species to appear here, on undeveloped land in my neighborhood on February 19th.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Bugs mating on common witchgrass

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Bugs Mating on Common Witchgrass 4422

Here I resorted to selective focus by concentrating on the slender strand of common witchgrass (Panicum capillare) that these bugs clung to with their feet as they continued mating. The light glinting off the bugs’ abdomens came from the sun, not from a flash.

Like the previous picture, this one is from June 2nd near Naruna Way in far northeast Austin. Last summer, from a site on the Blackland Prairie only about a mile away from this one, I offered up a different look at bugs mating on the same species of grass. I wonder whether witchgrass might turn out to be an aphrodisiac for people as well. If any of you are interested in carrying out experiments and reporting the results to us, go for it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2015 at 5:29 AM

Red admiral butterfly on basket-flower

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Red Admiral Butterfly on Basket-Flower 3998

Here’s a ventral view of a red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on a basket-flower (Centaurea americana) in Leander on the first day of June.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2015 at 5:32 AM


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Stilt bugs; click for more detail.

Following yesterday’s post about downy gaura, Gaura parviflora, Pixilated2 commented that she uses a cultivar of Gaura lindheimeri as a “trap” to entice aphids away from her garden plants. She asked whether I’ve seen aphids on downy gaura in the wild, and I replied that I don’t believe I have. The insects that I’ve most often found on downy gaura are stilt bugs, so called for their long legs. Valerie Bugh was good enough to identify this mating pair as probably belonging to the genus Jalysus.

During a slide show that I gave to the Highland Lakes chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas in Marble Falls two days ago, a man asked whether I ever put an artificial background behind a subject to make it stand out; I answered that I never do. If you’re interested in learning how I obtained the natural but almost completely neutral background you see in today’s photograph, you can read points 1 and especially 2 in About My Techniques.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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