Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘spider

I cotton to snake cotton

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I rarely come across snake cotton (Froelichia gracilis), so I got excited on August 2nd when I discovered a colony of it in a dry sump at the edge of Great Hills Park. On one of the snake cotton plants I noticed spiderwebs and soon saw the spider. Below is the picture I took of it using daytime flash and a small aperture; that combination gives the impression of dusk rather than broad daylight.

Then on August 14th out beyond Bastrop I found a few stalks of snake cotton
and was able to get a picture showing one of the plant’s small and inconspicuous flowers:

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today:
“Qui grate beneficium accipit primam eius pensionem solvit.”
“Anyone who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment of it.”
Here’s an alternate translation (I wanted to make it sound more colloquial):
“If you accept a favor with gratitude you’ll repay the first installment on what you owe.”
Seneca the Younger in De Beneficiis (On Benefits).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2020 at 4:32 AM

More from the July 29th outing on the Blackland Prairie

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Let me continue with the July 29th photo session near a pond on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin that produced the torchlike Clematis drummondii picture you saw here last time. On another of those vines I noticed that some of its silky strands had been pulled together; by getting close I made a soft portrait that included the spider that had done the pulling together. Click the excerpt below if you’d like a closer look at the spinner (which is what spider means).

I also made a pretty pastel picture of marsh fleabane buds (Pluchea odorata).
It’s been five years since that species last appeared in these pages.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” — U.S. Supreme Court, “West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

UPDATE: In yesterday’s post I’ve added a link below Emma Lazarus’s sonnet so you can hear the famous part set to music by a famous immigrant to the United States.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Svelte

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Whatever created the white enclosure on this Mexican hat seed head, the undeniable fact is that the structure is svelte. I asked local expert Val Bugh if she could tell what made it. “This webbing looks most like a spider. The egg sacs of some corinnids are covered with a very smooth layer that, once it ages just a little, looks sort of metallic to me. Also, the way the silk is so well attached to the substrate looks more the work of a spider than a moth. However, I’ve sometimes found some very odd moth cocoons that look simply like a bulge on a stem. Whatever it is, the silk is probably shiny because of weathering but it can’t be very old as the stem is still green.” Thanks, Val.

This portrait from west of Morado Circle in my neighborhood on July 5th continues celebrating what I’ve dubbed the Year of the Mexican Hat. More images of that species will appear in the weeks ahead.

Unrelated thought for today: “Reality is what refuses to go away when you do not believe in it….” — Steven Pinker in “Groups and Genes.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Wet sunflower with dark clouds

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Six years ago today I took some pictures of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) against dark clouds after a rain. Until recently I assumed I’d shown one of those photographs here in 2014, but a search proved that somehow I never did. Today’s post makes up for my negligence. What I unfortunately can’t make up for is the loss of the property where I photographed this sunflower and many other native plants for a couple of years before a Wendy’s and a Holiday Inn Express finally occupied that land.

Given this picture’s small size, you may have trouble recognizing a crab spider at about the 9 o’clock position on the sunflower. If you’re interested in the craft of photography, points 3 and 8 in About My Techniques apply to today’s image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Back to Bastrop

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June 6th this year was both D-Day and B-Day. No, not a birthday, but a trip back to Bastrop after not having visited the state park there for several years. Go around as we would, in no place were we not reminded of the devastating 2011 fire that burned for weeks and destroyed 90% of the pine trees.

Still, there was plenty of life. Look at all the greenery around that strangely burned tree trunk.
And look at this little orb-weaver spider in the genus Argiope:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 15, 2019 at 4:50 PM

Elongated

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Click to enlarge.

While wandering the banks and bed of upper Bull Creek on April 26th I photographed a colony of wild onions (Allium canadense var. canadense), on one stalk of which I found this svelte spider. I later turned to Joe Lapp for an identification and he said it’s an adult male in the genus Tetragnatha, which belongs to the family of long-jawed orbweavers. I hope you’re slack-jawed enough over how stretched out this spider is that you’ll long remember its similarly elongated pastel portrait. (And I hope you will despite the fact that arachnophobia ranks among the most common of all human fears, presumably because various spiders around the world are venomous, even lethally so).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2019 at 4:13 PM

Surprise on a ten-petal anemone

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I inaugurated the new wildflower season here with a post showing a ten-petal anemone (Anemone berlandieri) that I photographed on January 28th. As each fertilized flower matures, a lengthening seed column develops in the center, and eventually the sepals fall off. That was on its way to happening to the anemone in today’s picture from February 18th. When I moved in to make my portrait, I discovered that a crab spider had gotten there first. Those of you inclined to pareidolia may well see a face in the upside-down spider’s abdomen.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Spotted orbweaver

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On October 4th, while walking along a path through some woods on the far side of my neighborhood, I came across this spotted orbweaver spider, Neoscona crucifera, hanging from a strand of silk. (Thanks to Joe Lapp for identifying the species.) Because the area was shaded, there was no way I could avoid using flash. After I took several pictures, the spider scooted up onto the branch from which the silk was hanging, and that gave me a chance to photograph its ventral side.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2018 at 1:05 PM

Posted in nature photography

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Erratic

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You can decide for yourself whether this longtime correspondent of yours is erratic. What’s indisputable is that the Big Rock isolated near Okotoks, Alberta, is an example of a glacial erratic. That phrase tells you that during the last ice age glaciers carried this boulder southward and then dropped it in its current location when the ice melted. There it had stood conspicuously for millennia, unlike anything on the prairie around it, when we visited it a year ago today.

Contrasting with the weighty boulder was a small white feather caught in a spiderweb at the base of the rock.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2018 at 4:28 AM

Green lynx spider with hatchlings

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Click for greater clarity.

On December 1st last year, upon approaching a prairie flameleaf sumac tree (Rhus lanceolata) in Cedar Park to photograph its fall foliage, I noticed that one bunch of leaflets had been pulled together to make a shelter. I soon figured out that a green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) had created the shelter as a nest. Plenty of hatchlings scurried about, no doubt disturbed by my close presence and the closer presence of my camera.

Of the various pictures I took there, I chose to show this one because the two curved sumac leaflets in the upper right with the hatchlings on them somehow reminded me of a Hokusai wave. (Hey, that’s all the way over in Japan, so my imagination has a right to be far-fetched.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2018 at 4:51 AM

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