Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eat or

be eaten. That's what my friend Jill said when I bemoaned the death of a hummingbird moth at the grasp of a predator fly.

Today, I saw an eater and the eaten again, but not at first.
It's hard to see the big picture when focusing on one thing -- in this case, a skipper oddly still, upright, on a basil stalk. Only when I downloaded the photos did I see what had not seen in person: the spider's legs. I drove back to the garden and looked more closely at what I had originally missed -- a somber scene of death and life locked in a dance of death. Eat, or be eaten, indeed.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning Their Names

isn't easy when they look so much alike. On occasion, one sulphur, or two, will pause long enough for me to remove my glasses and lean in for a good look. Now I (think I) know three names!

Clouded Sulphur Cloudless Sulphur Orange Sulphur I am feeling accomplished (I think).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Lies Beneath

the woolly coated and fringed Ilia Underwing (an owlet moth) shocks with pleasure, like the joyful sounds of a New Orleans jazz funeral -- grief and celebration, above and below.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Of Walking Sticks and Leaf-footed Bug Nymphs

At the Gardeners' Market this morning, two friends presented me gifts.

Lynne brought me a walking stick she had lifted from a bumper and plopped into a plastic grocery bag. So fast was he that I almost couldn't snap him or save him. I think I got him turned toward the treeline rather than the parking lot, finally.Tam asked me to come to her house and look at her "red ant-like bugs." Sure enough, gathered at the base of an okra leaf in the shade, a slew of little critters waited and then bolted, all under the watchful eye of their parent: leaf-footed bug and nymphs!If only every morning could begin with scones, friends, and bugs!

Friday, August 27, 2010

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

The Monarchs arrived! Or, perhaps to be more accurate, two Monarchs arrived, and I photographed them. Oh, Louis Comfort Tiffany, thank you for trying, but . . . your work does not substitute for the real thing.A visitor ran round the perching ring of my hummingbird feeder. Silly caterpillar, where have you come from and where are you going?
I'll leave it to you to decide which is the sublime and which the ridiculous.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brutal Beauty

The red wasp, like the hairless cat, is unabashedly nude.Like a molded plastic sculpture, it balanced on the leaf, flipped its narrow wings (one whole and one torn), and scanned the view below, first to the side, then to the front. It slid down the leaf to the one below before launching out across the mint, shuddering with the wings of butterflies sunning themselves.I, too, shuddered to think of a creature in its grasp and shook with pleasure at its beauty.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two Stems of One Single Bush

Two stems on one single stalk of okra played host to a bug variety act today.

Two small spiders, one red ant, and one harlequin bug waited in the wings, but these three took the main stage.
I applauded.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dapper Hopper



a)s w( e loo )k


eringint( o-

aThe ):l

S a


rIvInG .gRrEaPsPhOs )

rea( be )rran( com )gi (e)ngly

by e e cummings
go here to see the poem correctly

Monday, August 23, 2010


It's true: there can never be enough of a good thing.
To wit: this single (female?) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the most beautiful of hundreds I've seen this summer. The iridescent blue mottled along the hindwing bleeds into a blanket of sparkling blue-white, like an old lady's talcum powder or a passage in a Seurat painting.
I think of the artist who mixes her own paint from raw minerals and wonder, Who could have imagined something so fantastical?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


A flicker couple visited today, pecking in the ground for tasty bits, then flew into the forest treeline, "keering" at one another. I am pleased they traveled here after I traveled to Huntsville, where I picked up my new old bike, on which I will ride to photo venues further afield.

Cycling or flying, we make good neighbors.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

At Rest

Morning means wing warming.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bagworm Evergreen Moth

Even its name sounds so unattractive, so disappointing that it's hard to type. But there was nothing disappointing about the way this bagworm moth larva dragged its "bag" up the cosmos stem and across the leaf to a bud, where, as I watched, it knitted itself inside to wait. Patiently.And I shall wait, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This picture is worth a thousand words.
This female spicebush swallowtail warmed her wings
on my deck's still whirligig.

Oh unexpected vision!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wall Walker

At the toaster, I looked up and out the window: there, fluttering fitfully around three purple blossoms, six swallowtails swirled. I grabbed my camera and headed out.

What I didn't expect was what I found after photographing them: a green wall walker, trembling slightly on the siding, glancing my way. I waited and watched him turn and sidle to the sill, where he stalked a meal I didn't see.

To the snort of a deer trotting into the forest, I left the mantis to silence and the swallowtails to frenzy, dizzy with the wilds of my yard.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sometimes the Best Snap

of the day is someone else's.

A friend posted a link on Facebook announcing a new publication, One by One, letterpress poetry, delivered by mail, one poem at a time, "every other week or so."

So clever, so seductive that I wish I had thought of it myself.

I didn't.

But I shall subscribe.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Silent Flight

The picture I missed yesterday:
sudden swoop of owl
aslant in silence
into dusk-hushed forest.

This will have to do: Arkive video of a barn owl in flight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Finding a Quiet Place

Today, butterfly weed fluttered and buzzed with flitting and zooming swallowtails, buckeyes, least skippers, American snouts, cabbage whites, hummingbird moths, summer wasps, bees, grasshoppers, gulf and variegated fritillaries. The very air swarmed.

In the midst of all this noonday activity, one little gray hairstreak stilled the frenzy atop a frilly bloom, plying his proboscis and sliding his wings, waving his tails, and then, like the butterfly, I stilled, too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fantastic Facts

  1. Dragonflies are older than dinosaurs and birds.

  2. There are 5000 species of dragonflies.
  3. The 30,000-faceted dragonfly eye sees 360 degrees.

  4. Male dragonflies have two sets of sex organs.

  5. Nymph dragonflies take three to five years to reach maturity.
  6. Most of a dragonfly's life is spent underwater.

  7. The nymph breathes through gills in its rectum.

  8. The adult stage can last five or six months.

  9. One 250-million-year-old dragonfly had a wingspan of 28 inches.

  10. Dragonflies can fly forward 100-body-lengths a second.

  11. Dragonflies mate in a wheel, and if you're lucky enough to see the mating wheel as I did today, you'll wheel with delight.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bugguide.net Rocks

At 8:36 PM, I posted two pictures with this comment, "After searching this site and others, I am unsure what this is. Is it a black-and-yellow lichen moth? Its leathery, shiny wings had a leaf-like pattern, which I did not see in other photos. When it flew, it hovered like a hummingbird."
At 8:43 PM, I received a comment titled "End Band Net-wing beetle," which read, "It's not a moth, it's beetle :)"

Bugguide.net rocks!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Family Ties

Brushfoots (family Nymphalidae): butterflies whose males have shorter than usual front legs. I am starting to recognize them everywhere.

The large showy ones like the fritillaries and monarchs

and humble little ones like the American snout and Carolina satyr,
the variegated crescents and ladies,

and the common buckeye, red admiral, and red-spotted purple.

Last year, I didn't know the word "brushfoot," nor would I ever have guessed that family ties bind these butterflies to one another.

Now I see one and think, I know the cousin!