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Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

I was really struck  by the contrast in color and texture between this cluster of large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and the milkweed on which they were perched at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge during a visit earlier this week.

The color combination seems appropriate for a Christmas card, though the subject matter would be considered untraditional, to say the least, and might not be met with enthusiasm by all recipients.

milkweed bugs

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Each fall I look forward to the reappearance of the Blue-faced Meadhowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum). No matter how many times I see them, I never fail to be amazed at the wonderful combination of bright colors on these little beauties.

Quite often Blue-faced Meadowhawks perch in the crowded undergrowth, where the background is cluttered.  I was quite happy recently to capture a few images in which the dragonfly perched a little higher, which allowed me to isolate it from the background and ensure that the viewer’s attention is focused on the primary subject.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although we are well into autumn, there are still dragonflies around, including some stunning Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies (Stylurus plagiatus) that I spotted earlier this week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. As you can see from the photos Russet-tipped Clubtails like to perch on somewhat exposed leaves, which makes them a bit easier to spot than some species of dragonflies, though they are not common in my experience

I was able to capture images of Russet-tipped Clubtails (there were at least two individuals that I saw, both males) on several leafy perches in a tree overhanging a pond. My angle of view and the direction of the light gave each of these images a very different feel, primarily because of the way that the background was captured.

Depended on my mood, any one of these three images can be my favorite. Is there one that particularly appeals to you?

Russet-tipped Clubtail

Russet-tipped Clubtail

Russet-tipped Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I don’t know if this is a local dragonfly or was merely stopping by while migrating south, but I was happy when this Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) stopped circling a field and perched for a moment earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

This species of dragonfly is one of several migratory species and in the early autumn I tend to see more Black Saddlebags dragonflies than at any other time of the year. As you might have guessed, the dark blotches on the wings caused some scientist to imagine that they looked like saddlebags. In some cases, I scratch my head when I learn the name of a species, but in this case the name seems to fit and doesn’t require too big a stretch of the the imagination.

Black Saddlebags

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I love to photograph bees and realize that I have not featured one for quite some time. I captured this image of one as it perched on some pickerelweed this past weekend at Ben Brenman Park in Alexandria, VA.

In many ways, this image is as much about the flowering plant as it is about the bee. It speaks to me of the interaction between those two main subjects.

For me, photographing nature is about balancing the depiction of the small details, as I often do, with the “bigger” picture—the framing of this shot helps to give the viewer a better sense of the environment than if I had done an extreme close-up shot of the bee itself.

bee and pickerelweed

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Despite seeing several Fine-lined Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora filosa) last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, only this one was cooperative enough to land for a moment and allow me to get some shots.

Previously I posted some photos I took of Fine-lined Emeralds in flight. I had chased and chased these elusive dragonflies, but they never seemed to stop flying. I was beginning to think that I would not get a shot of one perched when suddenly one that I was tracking dropped down into the vegetation. I approached very cautiously and spotted it clinging vertically to a narrow stem.

My heart was racing as I switched to manual focusing—the profile of the perched dragonfly was so slim that I didn’t think my auto-focus would lock on my subject. I took a couple of shots and then inched forward a little. This is part of an eternal struggle for a wildlife photographer, deciding how close you can get to a subject without disturbing it.

I was pretty happy with this image, because I was able to capture a lot of details of this cool-looking species. I recommend clicking on the image to see a higher resolution view of the dragonfly’s spectacular emerald eyes, beautiful body markings, and wonderful wings.

Fine-lined Emerald

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Orange and brown seem to be the perfect color combination for the autumn and this Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) was suitably celebrating the season this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Question Mark butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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