centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)

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)
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)
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)
A Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), captured in the instant before it dropped off into the grass.

I take a lot of pictures of insects on goldenrod -- mostly because goldenrod attracts a lot of insects, but also because I like green and yellow. What I don't like is the way the tall, top-heavy flowers tremble in every breeze. Sometimes, when the wind just won't stop, I resort to holding the camera in one hand so I can stabilize the plant with the other one. Of course the camera shakes more, but image stabilization helps with that, whereas it can't do anything about subject motion, so I think I wind up ahead. Pollinators are usually too absorbed in their work to notice what I'm doing. Unfortunately this one did take exception to me, so I only got one shot, handheld with one hand at 1/30 of a second, before it dropped off the flower into the grass. That shot had no business working at all, but sometimes I get lucky.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
Stink bugs (Euschistus sp.?) on a Gray-headed Coneflower.  Photographed in the prairie restoration area at Afton State Park, Minnesota.

Gray-Headed Coneflowers must be really juicy in late July. All these little brown stink bugs (Euschistus sp., I think) were crowding onto them while ignoring everything else on the prairie. I only found one on another plant.

Lots of this )

Bee Fly

Sep. 7th, 2012 03:01 pm
centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)

This bee fly really liked Rough Blazing Star. It started at the lowest flower, worked its way up the spike to the top, flew off, then came back and did the same route over and over. At the time I wasn't sure if I was seeing one fly or a succession of them, but the slightly damaged wingtips visible in several photos convinces me they're all of the same individual.


Five more photos )

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
A stink bug (Podisus sp.?) on a grass seedhead.

This is some kind of stink bug -- maybe Podisus sp., but I'm not sure; there seem to be a lot of little brownish stink bugs in the world.

centuryplant: A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Default)
Sawflies mating on a willow sapling at the Boomsite Wayside near Stillwater, Minnesota.

I had no idea there were sawflies this beautiful. I'm glad they were making more of whatever species they are.

three more photos )