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Posts Tagged ‘Jackson Miles Abbot Wetlands Refuge’

Not all people like to have insects perch on them, but I thought it was pretty cool when an inquisitive Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis) landed on my hand Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. The real challenge was getting a photo of the damselfly shooting one-handed with my DSLR and 180mm macro lens.

Sharp-eyed readers may have recognized that this is the same species of damselfly as the one featured in my blog’s banner. I just love the beautiful purple markings of this damselfly, which is also known as a Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea), if you use the name of the sub-species.

It was interesting trying to get shots as I tried to hold my left hand still and slowly extended my arm out as far as it would go. The damselfly was relatively cooperative, but moved about a little as it explored my hand. Steadying my shooting hand was an even bigger challenge. Normally I like to try to get as close to parallel with a damselfly’s body as possible, so that most of it will be in focus, but that was not possible in this situation, given the anatomical limitations of the human body.

Looking at these images, I have reached a sad conclusion—I am going to have to give up on my dream of becoming a professional hand model.

Variable Dancer

Variable Dancer

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am not sure why, but this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) decided to perch upside-down in the vegetation when I accidently spooked it recently at Jackson Miles Abbot Wetlands Refuge.
Please don’t ask me why “purple” is part of the butterfly’s name—I don’t see any purple either and for that matter,
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reservedthe red doesn’t really look like spots either. Who makes up these names anyways?
Red-spotted Purple
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Skipper butterflies normally do not get much attention because they are small and are not brightly colored.  When you look closely at members of this large family of butterflies, however, you discover an amazing variety of colors and patterns.

Give some love to the skippers. (Click on any one of the images to see all of them full size in slide show mode, unless you are viewing the post in the WordPress Reader, in which, I believe, the images will be shown individually.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Monday I spotted this beautiful Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at Fort Belvoir, a nearby military base. When I observed one at the same location in June, it was the first time that one had been recorded in Fairfax County, the county in Northern Virginia where I live, so I was a little surprised to see that they are still around.

If you would like to see some photos of my initial sighting, check out my blog posting from June 25. The range of this dragonfly seems to be moving northward and it seems likely that I’ll be seeing this species again next year, since I suspect that mating and egg-laying have been taking place during the past two months.

Swift Setwing

Swift Setwing

Swift Setwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) was so focused on the goldenrod flowers that it was either unaware of my presence or simply didn’t care on Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. I was therefore able to capture the beauty of the butterfly from a somewhat unusual angle that lets us see some of the wonderful markings on the body as well as on the wings.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My eyes were drawn yesterday to the bright yellow of a patch of goldenrod as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at nearby Fort Belvoir. From past experience I knew that goldenrod also attracts a wide variety of insects, so I moved in closer with my macro lens at the ready.

There were a lot of skipper butterflies, but what really caught my eye was a small, brightly patterned insect that was crawling around in the goldenrod. Based on its shape, I assumed that it was some kind of beetle, but I had not idea what kind it was. When I returned home and began to do a little research, I was a little shocked to learn that the insect in question was a moth, not a beetle. I am pretty sure that it is an Ailanthus Webworm moth (Atteva aurea).

The colors and patterns of this moth are so spectacular that I think it needs a name that is more descriptive and easier to remember. Any ideas?

Ailanthus Webworm moth

Ailanthus Webworm moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During a quick trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at Fort Belvoir, Virginia last weekend, I was thrilled to see that the spectacularly patterned Banded Pennant dragonflies are still around. This is the only location that I visit regularly where I have spotted this dragonfly species and I am never quite sure when an encounter will be the last one of the season.

As I was looking over the two shots that I chose to use with this posting, I realized that they represent two different approaches that I use when photographing dragonflies. Ideally I will try to position myself so that the camera’s sensor is parallel with the dragonfly’s wings and most of the dragonfly will be in focus. That was the case with the second shot and it really highlights the beautiful pattern of the wings. However, the image seems a bit too static for my taste. I prefer the first shot, in part because the pose is more dynamic and the direct eye contact with the dragonfly draws me in.

Banded Pennant

Banded Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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