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Some gorgeous little bugs

Lots of bugs this weekend. Saturday night, I gave a program about "singing insects" - the Orthoptera - at Dawes Arboretum. We limited it to 25 people, and had a full house. After the presentation, we headed out into the dark and I've never had such luck finding cool bugs. Right off the bat, we tracked down and captured a Slightly Musical Conehead, the first of many. A Greater Anglewing was singing from the roof of the building that I gave the talk in. Restless Bush Crickets put in multiple appearances. And on it went - the best nocturnal singing insect foray that I've yet done.
Today, Jess Henning and I made a whirlwind trip into the backwoods of Athens County to check out a few spots, and encountered lots of noteworthy plants, and insects. I of course had the camera in tow, and managed some decent images. Following are a few of those...
A Snowberry Clearwing, Hemaris diffinis, works the flowers of a Rough Blazing-star, Liatris aspera. The dry meadow where this moth was found was full of blazing-star, and various pollinating insects. Shooting the hummingbird moths is a challenge, as they are in more or less constant motion, and their wings are a blur. When I encounter one and begin the hunt, I flip my camera's settings to shutter priority, and jack the shutter speed WAY up in order to better freeze movement. This image was made at a shutter speed of 1/2,500, with no flash.

A female Zabulon Skipper, Poanes zabulon, was also working the blazing-star. I must confess to largely ignoring the small skippers, and appreciate George Sydlowski for correcting me on its identification.

My favorite shot of the day. This is a TINY braconid wasp, and I think it is a species in the genus Atanycolus. It's a female, as evidenced by the long spikelike ovipositor protruding from the rear of her abdomen, and the entire animal was probably only 5-8 millimeters in length.

Braconid wasps are parasitoids of various insects, and species in the genus Atanycolus go after the grubs of wood-boring beetles. She'll somehow divine the location of a larva deep in a log, and auger that long ovipositor down to it, and lay an egg or eggs on the victim. The newly emergent wasp larvae will bore into their host, and eat it.


Fabulous photos , Jim. I especially admire that Snowberry Clearwing!

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