Posts Tagged ‘fly’

Within minutes of my arrival at a garden in Maryland, I was able to photograph my first Monarch butterfly of the summer, but was also “treated” to the sight of the fattest, hairiest fly that I have ever seen, a true case of a beauty and a beast.

Brookside Gardens is a beautiful spot for photographing flowers and insects in Wheaton, Maryland in the suburban Washington, D.C. area. In one section of the garden, there is a section specifically planted to attract butterflies and it was in that area that I saw the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) along with more numerous Eastern Swallowtail butterflies.

I didn’t see a single Monarch butterfly last summer and feared that I might not see one this summer either, because of habitat issues in Mexico and the severe winter we experienced. I was therefore thrilled when I first caught sight of a Monarch and chased after them throughout the day at the garden.


My moment of joy was interrupted when I was buzzed by a very large fly. When it landed, I was startled to see that it was really plump and really hairy. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it would be tough to consider this beast to a a beauty. I poked around the internet in an attempt to identify this fly and it appears to belong to the genus Juriniopsis, though I can’t identify a specific species.


I continue to be fascinated by insects and at this time of the year you can usually find me chasing after them with my trusty macro lens, giving equal time to the beauties and to the beasts.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you ever find yourself looking at flies? No, I don’t mean looking at them with a fly swatter in your hand and murder in your heart and I don’t mean admiring the beautiful colors of butterflies and dragonflies.

What I have in mind is marveling at the variety of more ordinary flies, discovering the details of their amazing eyes and hairy little bodies. Sometimes you have to move in really close and bend down to their level (and a macro lens helps).

When you do, a whole new world opens up.

Here are a few shots of different flies that I’ve encountered recently.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After a week in an urban setting with only a point-and-shoot, I couldn’t wait to get back to my marsh with my trusty Canon 50D in my hands. I kept my macro lens on my camera for most of the time, because the insects seemed much more active than they were only a week ago. Even flies seemed to be good subjects. I photographed this fly hand-held at really close range, which gave me a very narrow depth of field.

The first image is cropped, in order to give you a good look at the fly’s eyes—the second photo is the same image with a much less severe crop.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The world changed for me when I put my macro lens back on my camera, simultaneous becoming smaller and bigger. Instead of looking in the distance for birds, I switched my focus to the world immediately in from of me, searching for tiny objects that I can photograph.

In vain I long for colorful butterflies and dragonflies, but it is too early in the spring for them to appear. As soon as a fly buzzed by me, I was seized with an irresistible urge to capture its image. It’s only a fly (a Green Bottle Fly, I think), but it is symbolic of the joys to come, the time when I will spend endless hours chasing after insects, trying to capture the detailed beauty of their colors and patterns.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was observing a tiny green tree frog in the cattails, a large fly suddenly buzzed into the frame and landed right next to the frog. Did the fly initially consider the frog to be a potential prey? Was the fly a daredevil who liked to flirt with danger? Was this an initiation test into a fly fraternity or perhaps the result of a bet between drunk buddies?

The unlikely juxtaposition of these two creatures makes me smile every time I look at it. As a child, I watched lots of cartoons in which frogs would flick out their very long tongues and snag unsuspecting flies from a great distance. I waited and watched, anticipating the moment when the frog would turn and strike. That moment never came—the fly eventually flew off to safety.

Real life doesn’t always live up to life in the cartoons.


(Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s been gray and rainy almost all this week in Brussels, so many of these shots feature raindrops. When I am away on a trip for business, I generally carry only my point-and-shoot camera, an old Canon A620.

This trip I decided to experiment with the macro mode and see what kind of shots I could get. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and even managed to get some insect shots, despite the fact that I had to get really close to them, compared with the macro lens that I normally use. I never had to worry about harsh sunlight—I never saw any the entire trip—and mostly had to shoot a a high ISO and an almost wide-open aperture.

I did get some shots of the buildings in Brussels, which looked almost monochromatic in the gray light, but will post some of those images when I return home from the trip.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday evening when I saw a fly with a golden body perched on a leaf and decided to try to get a shot of it using my pop-up flash, several remarkable things happened.

Almost every time that I tripped the flash, the fly flew away for a split second and returned to the the leaf. Most of the the shots showed only a part of the fly’s body in the frame, but several of the images show the fly in mid-air, as you can see in the first and third image.

The flash also revealed that the fly is multi-colored to the point that I have named it a rainbow fly. (I have no idea of its real name). You can really see a lot of different colors in the second image, the only one that I managed to get of the fly sitting still.

Those who follow my blog know that I enjoy trying to capture shots of birds and insects in flight, but I never expected that I would get shots of a fly in flight, even accidentally. It shows once again the significant role that luck plays in getting interesting images.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was admiring the beautiful tulips in my neighbors’ garden, I noticed this fly perched on the edge of one of them. In a different setting he might have gone unnoticed, but here the details of the fly provide a nice contrast with the wonderful primary colors of the tulips in the background.

With spring here in full force, I am reacquainting myself with my macro lens, causing me to look more closely at details like the red compound eyes of this fly and his hairy back legs.  It’s fun too to note the details of his tiny little feet.

I am now remembering how much I have to pay attention to lighting, depth of field, and shutter speed when shooting macro shots, particularly because my macro lens is not image stabilized. Very minor problems can really be magnified when I try to get in this close, especially with an animate subject.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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We had a few warm days this past weekend and there were a lot more insects around the still-flowering plants than there had been the week before. I focused a lot of my attention on some white flowers, where bees were active (I may post some bee photos later), but my eyes were especially drawn to a tiny fly with red eyes, clear and black patterned wings and a shaggy-looking body. Despite his diminutive stature, I managed to get a pretty clear shot of him. If you click on the photo, you can even see the hairs on his head. I searched the internet and couldn’t seem to find and identification of my little fly. His wings look a little like a scorpion fly, but the tail is all wrong.

The other photo is a spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata), a photogenic insect whose photo I’ve posted several times already. I especially like the pose of the beetle as he is climbing up the flower. The photo also gives you an idea of the size differential between this beetle and the tiny fly.

Tiny fly on a white flower

Ain’t no mountain high enough…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My eyes were so attuned to dragonflies yesterday that my first thought when I stumbled upon this insect perched at the top of a plant was that it was a tiny dragonfly. The pose especially looked familiar.

The more I looked at it, however, the more I realized that the legs and winds were all wrong and the head, which in this profile shot looks a bit like a dragonfly’s, was really different. From another angle it sort of looked like a fly, but not any fly that I had ever seen. What is it?

I think that what I have here is a robber fly (from the insect family Asilidae). So far I have not been able to get any more precise in identifying this guy’s species. The description of robber flies in Wikipedia, however, is pretty. scarey.

“The short, strong proboscis is used to stab and inject victims with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which paralyze and digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied meal through the proboscis.”

Yikes! That description alone is enough to bring back flashbacks of alien movies and zombie thrillers.

I may not sleep well tonight.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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