Monday, August 2, 2010

Butterflies, Bumble Bees, Bugs, and Spiders

My new macro lens has opened up a whole new world for me. While out taking photos of native plants, I have come upon all sorts of insects, many that I would normally pass by without a thought. With all my new lenses, I'll take a photo of a bug and then when I get home, I'll marvel at the detail in the photo. Then I'll search the web for information on the insect and in doing so, I have discovered all kinds of new things.

Gray Hairstreak, Strymon melinus

Butterflies are only slightly easier than birds to catch in a photo, but this fellow obliged by sitting still for the longest time. I actually took this shot with the macro and not a telephoto, he let me get that close to him. He was rubbing his hindwings back and forth, a sign he was "nectaring."

West Coast Lady, Vanessa annabella

White Checkered-Skipper, Pyrgus albescens

Western Pygmy-Blue, Brephidium exile

This butterfly is tiny! Yvetta alerted me to its presence or else I never would have seen it.

Purple Sage, Salvia leucophylla with Bumble Bee

Bladderpod, Isomeris arborea with Harlequin Bugs, Murgantia histrionica

The one on the right is a later nymph (young bug). These are true bugs.

Bladderpod, Isomeris arborea with Harlequin Bug eggs

The little white barrels with two black hoops around (or in this case, one black and one brown) are the eggs. You can see a row of these barrels in the previous photo to the lower left of the bugs.

Silver Argiope, Argiope argentata, with meal

This spider makes an orb web with shiny, radiating "stabilimenta" (sing. stabilimentum). It was the stabilimenta that caught my eye.

Funnel Web made by a Funnel Weaver Spider (family: Agelenidae)

I took this photo just because I thought it was unusual (and pretty). It wasn't until my son asked me about it that I discovered that the funnel was created on purpose. The funnel was about two inches in diameter.

It's a funnel web, and as you see consists of a flat, horizontal sheet of web that "funnels" into a tunnel-like hole. That hole is where the spider stays. An insect blunders onto the web, inside the hole the spider feels vibrations of the hapless critter on his web, the spider rushes out, bites the insect, and carries it back into the funnel. As the spider grows it adds new layers to the flat web, so you can look at the web and judge how large the spider is.

I'd say this one was pretty large!