centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-08-13 06:01 pm

Promachus bastardii

This is the giant robber fly Promachus bastardii. That name seems to mean "the bastard's champion." I understand the champion part, at least; these are carnivorous flies that take large prey. They're big, hairy, aggressive, and loud. In close-up they're unexpectedly cute, with their bulging eyes and blond facial hair.


7 more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-08-08 10:01 pm

Stream Cruiser

Stream Cruiser (20130610-0519-60d1)

I'd only seen this species in ones and twos, and always on trips to the north, so I was pleased to find a good population relatively close to home at Kinnickinnic State Park. They aren't brightly colored, but their brown is very rich and their white stripes are snazzy. I especially like how the white stripe on the thorax is outlined in black to make it stand out more.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-26 02:33 pm

Rainbow Bluet vs. plume moth

A Rainbow Bluet (Enallagma antennatum) eating a plume moth.

A damselfly eating a moth is like a toddler eating spaghetti. They just can't do it cleanly, or maybe they don't care to.

Three more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-22 08:51 pm

Hidden dragon


This Dot-Tailed Whiteface isn't so much hiding as enjoying the sun on the other side of the milkweed leaf. They are not a shy species; while I took photos of this one, others were flying up to me to feed on the cloud of biting flies I'd attracted. They couldn't make much of a dent, but I was still grateful.

One more photo )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-18 09:03 pm

Fly-killing fungus

A fly killed by the fungus Entomophthora muscae (side view)

I noticed this fly poised at the tip of a twig and went to see if I could get a picture before it flew off. After a few shots, I realized it wasn't going anywhere. The fly had succumbed to an infection by the fungus Entomophthora muscae, which causes its victims to climb to a high place and adopt a stereotyped posture before dying in a shower of spores. The fungus even chooses the time of death: late evening, so the spores don't dry out in the heat of the day.

Some of the white spores are still stuck to the fly's bristles, and I believe the wide raised ridges on its abdomen are a result of swelling as the fungus grew inside it.

Two more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-17 09:22 pm

Cheek to cheek

Cheek to Cheek (20130618-0073-60d1)

I don't know what these stoneflies are doing.

The full story, such as it is )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-16 08:32 pm

Rainbow Bluets, part two

A female Rainbow Bluet.  Taken at Lake Louise State Park in southern Minnesota.

Female Rainbow Bluets aren't quite as colorful as the males, but they're exceptionally handsome damselflies, with pale green underneath and almost solid black above.

Four more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-07-10 02:25 pm

Rainbow Bluets, part one

Rainbow Bluet (20130702-0191-60d1)

The Rainbow Bluet is one of my favorite Odonates -- a damselfly colored like a tropical bird. The most reliable place I know to find them is Lake Louise State Park, near the Iowa border, where they coexist with Orange Bluets and purple Variable Dancers. The fact that all this color occurs in Minnesota seems like some kind of mistake.

Three more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-06-24 09:23 pm

Red Pine

Pollen cones on a Red Pine, in sunset light.

Another test of the new lens: pollen cones on a Red Pine, in sunset light.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-06-21 03:25 pm

New lens

I love my 100mm macro lens, but I've had to admit that it's not ideal for taking pictures of wary dragonflies. Sometimes I just need more working distance. So I sold my old Olympus equipment and bought a Canon 300mm f/4.
Black Locust (20130610-0674-e30b)

Yeah, I think that'll do. Also, Black Locust is considered invasive in the Upper Midwest, but it sure is pretty.

The lens is relatively close-focusing, with a maximum magnification of .24, which means it will focus on something 3.66 inches wide -- about the right size to fill the frame with a Dragonhunter. I considered just living with that minimum, since it's the larger dragonflies I usually have trouble getting close to and I'd often rather have some space around the subject anyway. But next time out I'm going to try it with some extension -- specifically, a 21mm extension tube, which I have scientifically determined to be the largest one I can put on between my camera and this lens and still zip my camera bag shut over them. That will let me focus on a rectangle about 2.5 x 1.66 inches, which is still not going to let me fill the frame with an Autumn Meadowhawk, but is significantly more flexible.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-06-17 05:39 pm



I feel like I'd recognize this if I could see it completely open, but as it is, I have no idea.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-06-12 03:30 pm

The puffin

The Puffin (f1-20130515-0236)

This is the same bud as yesterday, from a different angle, and rotated 90 degrees in post-processing.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
2013-06-11 04:57 pm

The screaming troll

The Screaming Troll (f1-20130515-0258)

Not only does this creature have a fly in its hair, but if you look closely, there's some kind of larva crawling out from behind its eye. I guess that would upset anybody.