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Archive for the ‘Macro Photography’ Category

Whenever I see an Ailanthus Webworm moth (Atteva aurea), I assume that it is some kind of beetle. It is hard to believe that the colorful patterns are actually part of the wings and not a hard exterior shell. I spotted this beautiful little moth on some goldenrod last week while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The pattern on this insect’s body reminds me of an animal print. Wouldn’t it be cool to have fabric printed with this bold pattern? I can imagine throw pillows and even fashion accessories. From a marketing perspective, though, I think we would have to come up with a new name for the insect—a name like “webworm” probably would not attract many customers.

Ailanthus Webworm moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Do you ever stop to look at grasshoppers? A lot of them are really cool, like this giant one that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I love how it looks like the grasshopper is wearing a helmet on its head and a suit of armor on its torso.

I am not very good in identifying grasshopper species, but after looking through various internet sites, I wonder if this might be an Eastern Lubber grasshopper (Romalea guttata). This species is found only in the southeastern part of the United States. Virginia, where I live, is not within its listed range, so it is possible that this is a related species. Whatever the case, I definitely love the bold coloration of this giant grasshopper.

yellow grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As many of you know, I love to photograph dragonflies and will often try to get close-up shots of them. Initially I captured a head-on shot of a female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

As I was observing this dragonfly at close range, she began to groom herself. I am not sure if she was cleaning her eyes or merely scratching an itch, but it was a bit eerie when she rotated her head more than 90 degrees to do so, as you can see in the second image. It brought back memories from my youth of Linda Blair’s spinning head in the original version of The Exorcist, though fortunately the dragonfly’s head did not rotate 360 degrees.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you have a favorite insect? Although I like dragonflies a lot, my favorite insect is probably the rainbow-colored Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum). I was thrilled to spot this beauty on some colorful vegetation last Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I remember well the sense of incredulity that I felt when I saw one of these insects for the very first time—I simply could not believe that the bright colors were real. The beautiful curling leaves hide the details of the katydid’s body a little, but add a wonderful artistic element to this image. If want to see the brilliant colors of a Handsome Meadow Katydid on full display, check out this link to a 2013 posting that I entitled Rainbow Grasshopper—it is one of my most popular posts to date with over 315 views.

The vivid colors of this katydid are sure to grab your attention, but you should also be sure to check out its eyes. I am still blown away every time that I see those amazing eyes that seem to be looking deeply into me.  Here’s looking at you, kid.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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If you were to pit a mantis against a spider, which one would have the advantage? I thought it would be the mantis, but that was clearly not the case this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This spider had a large web stretched over a path on which I was walking, and I guess the mantis was unlucky enough to get stuck in its sticky strands as it was moving through the air.

mantis versus spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was looking at a small patch of purple aster flowers yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I noticed that the center of one of them was a different color than all of the rest. I moved closer and was thrilled to see this very cool-looking White-banded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes) nestled in among the petals of the flower. This kind of spider does not build a web, but patiently perches, waiting to pursue passing prey.

crab spider

crab spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With a name that includes the word “bluet,” you might expect that this female Big Bluet damselfly (Enallagma durum) would be blue, but obviously that is not the case here. There is a blue female variant in this species, but this one appears to be the olive variant.  Damselfly identification is difficult under the best of circumstances, because so many of them share the same colors—only the patterns help you distinguish among them. In this case, size helps a bit too, because Big Bluets are in fact larger than many other damselflies.

As I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge a few days, I was fortunate that this damselfly chose to perch at almost eye level on a stalk of Eastern Gamagrass, which let me get a clear shot with the sky in the background.  Most of the time damselflies like this perch lower to the ground in areas with denser vegetation.

Big Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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