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Posts Tagged ‘Fort Belvoir VA’

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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I guess that the main subject of this image is the tiny male Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera), but I must confess that I was equally drawn to the curving shapes of the branches sticking out of the water during my recent trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. Normally I try to fill as much of my frame with my primary subject by using a zoom lens or by moving closer, but in this case I actually moved back in order to be able to capture more of the vegetation.

I really like the way that the warm amber color of the aptly named Eastern Amberwing stands out against the muted tones of the rest of the image. The style of this image is different from most of my shots (assuming that I have an identifiable style), but I enjoy mixing it up from time to time by shooting from different angle or distances.

Eastern Amberwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) are really common, but I enjoy photographing them anyways, like this grizzled male that I spotted earlier this week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The curling vines of the plant on which this dragonfly chose to perch add some additional visual interest to these photos.

I must confess that ordinary blue dragonflies have a special place in my heart, because my very first blog posting on July 7, 2012 featured a photo of a Blue Dasher, another common species. My photography skills and my knowledge about dragonflies have increased significantly since that time, though I am still quite proud of that initial photo that started me on this long journey into photography.

 

blue dasher

Blue Dasher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do spiders decide where to place their webs? Is there some special secret that is passed on from generation to generation about optimal web placement for capturing prey? I know that human fisherman and trappers look for specific conditions and wonder if it is the same with spiders.

Whatever the case, this Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) appears to have mastered her trapping skills and looks to have caught both a female Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) and what I think is some kind of female grasshopper. I am not really sure about the latter victim, but that is what I believe the green-colored object is in the image.

Often I see the webs of this kind of spider in fairly thick vegetation, but this web was hanging in mid-air about six feet high at the edge of a small pond last weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The murky grayness in the upper right portion of the image is the water of the pond. In the left hand side you can see some of the web strands that tenuously connected the web to some nearby vegetation. This spider would not have one any contests for the beauty of its web, but there is no arguing with its success in capturing prey.

argiope aurantia

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I spotted this amazing looking caterpillar alongside a pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I have not yet been able to identify it, but I was really struck by the stunning blue dots and the prickly spikes that run the length of the caterpillar’s body. Often these types of spikes are an indication of a venomous stinging caterpillar, so I kept my distance as I was taking this shot. Click on the image if you want to get a closer look at the wonderful details of the caterpillar.

UPDATE: Several helpful folks have weighed in and have identified this as a Common Buckeye caterpillar (Junonia coenia). Thanks for the help.

caterpillar

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some people see spiders as creepy and others see them as cool. I am definitely in the latter category and was happy to spot this Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) during a recent trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

I love the zigzag pattern that is a distinctive characteristic of the webs constructed by this species of spider and was thrilled that I managed to capture the zigzag in this shot. This spider is pretty common and has a lot of different common names including zigzag spider, writing spider, yellow garden spider, and golden garden spider. Zigzag Spiders can get to be pretty big and I have seen them capture large prey including, alas, dragonflies. It is amazing to see how fast the spider is able to wrap up its captured prey in web material. In case you have never witnessed the process, here’s a link to a 2017 posting that shows a spider wrapping up a freshly caught damselfly.

zigzag spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As many of you know, I love trying to capture images of dragonflies in flight. This Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) cooperated by periodically hovering a bit during a recent trip that I made to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The first two images show you some of the details of the dragonfly’s body, including the way it tucks in its legs when in flight, and the final image gives you a wider view of the environment in which I was shooting.

Slaty Skimmer

slaty skimmer

slaty skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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