Welcome to my world in photos of some of natures smallest, but most beautiful creatures. Being butterflies, dragonflies, and other things that fly and walk on six or more legs. I hope you enjoy viewing my photo gallery as much as I do taking pictures of these amazing insects. Beginning with...

Mr. Blue, an Eastern Tailed-blue (Everes comyntas) butterfly

Mr. Blue, an Eastern Tailed-blue (Everes comyntas) butterfly

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Eastern Tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas)...

The Eastern Tailed-blue, also known as (Everes comyntas comyntas) is a common butterfly of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada in North America. The Great Plains form a habitat boundary between the Eastern and the much less common but similar Western Tailed-blue. The central section of California and portions of the states of Oregon and Washington also has Eastern Tailed-blues, which likely adapted to the habitat after being transported there inadvertently by humans. It also ranges from southeastern Arizona, western New Mexico, west Texas, south to Costa Rica in Central America. The species is virtually absent from the Rocky Mountain region.

The Eastern Tailed-blue has a low flight and a short proboscis, thus is found at flowers close to the ground which are open or short-tubed. These include white sweet clover, shepherd's needle, wild strawberry, winter cress, cinquefoils, asters, and others.

Preferred habitat is open, sunny places including weedy areas, meadows, abandoned fields, and disturbed areas.

Three broods from April - November in the north, many broods from February - November in the south.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)...

Cloudless Sulphurs are large fast flying butterflies with males being particularly dizzying flyers as they search for females. Wing span is 2 1/4 - 3 1/8 inches (5.7 - 8 cm).  Males are yellow with no markings on the upper side of the wings and faint spots underneath. Females are yellow above with black marginal spots, while the spots underneath are more prominent and noticeable than on males.

Permanent resident from Argentina north to southern Texas and the Deep South. Regular visitor and occasional colonist in most of the Southwest and the northern United States from the Midwest into New England, and sometimes as far north as Ontario, Canada. But many years it can be rare or non-existent in its northern range.

Flight season is year around in the Deep South; may have one flight in late summer in other southern states; immigrants to northern states in August or September usually do not reproduce. As the weather cools in autumn, adults begin a return migration back to the Deep South to overwinter.

Adult butterflies nectar from many different flowers, but prefer those with long tubes such as cordia, bougainvilla, cardinal flower, trumpet vine, hibiscus, lantana, wild morning glory, and jewelweed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)...

The Large Milkweed Bug is a medium sized hemipteran (true bug) of the family Lygaeidae. It feeds mainly on grains or seeds, particularly those of the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Like all hemiptera, it feeds through a long mouthpart known as a rostrum. The adult is approximately 5/8 inch (1.5 cm) long. Mature adults are various shades of orange with black rhomboidal spots at both ends of the body and a black band in the middle. Freshly molted individuals are pale yellow with gray spots that change into black with time. Adult females have several black spots on the rear part of their abdomen, while males  have only one.

Preferred habitat of the Large Milkweed Bug spreads east of the Rocky Mountains. It is found as far north as Ontario, Canada, but is more abundant in the southeastern United States. Groups of insects in all stages of development can be found between May and October on Common Milkweed plants, but adults are typically more numerous early in the season versus the larvae/nymphs.

Both adults and nymphs feed on milkweed plant juices, seeds, and occasionally on other plant juices. When the Milkweed plant is scarce, they may become scavengers and predators. Milkweed Bugs are one of a small group of insects that have the ability to tolerate the toxic (poisonous) compounds in the milkweed plant. They are therefore important in regulating populations of this plant.

Milkweed Bugs have few predators because they concentrate in their bodies the bad tasting compounds found in the sap of milkweed plants. The bugs use their bright colors to advertise their bad taste. Inexperienced birds that taste their first Milkweed Bug are unlikely to try to eat another orange and black insect.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria)...

Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria), not to be confused with its cousin Common Mullein, is a species of flowering biennial weed belonging to the Scrophulariacea (Figwort) family. An invasive species native to Eurasia and North Africa, it has naturalized in the United States and most of Canada since its introduction where it can now be found in almost every one of the continental United States, as well as in southern Canada and even Hawaii. In the United States, it’s found most abundantly along the east coast. It is so named because of the resemblance of the flowers' stamens to that of a moth’s antennae.

Though Moth Mullein has a wide range of habitats, it's typically found in open fields, pastures, and meadows. It can also be found in open woods. The Moth Mullein prefers rich soils, but is tolerant of dry, sandy, and even gravelly soils.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Newly emerged "Dog Day" Cicada...

Cicadas are insects belonging to the family Cicadidae in the order Hemiptera. Cicadas are recognizable by their large size (usually 1 inch in length or longer) and clear wings held rooflike over the abdomen. Most cicadas are strong fliers that spend their time high in the trees, so they are rarely seen or captured. Their life cycles are long, usually involving multiple years spent underground as juveniles, followed by a brief (roughly 2 - 6 weeks) adult life above ground. As juveniles and adults, they feed on the xylem fluid of woody plants using piercing and sucking mouthparts. As adults, males produce a loud species-specific mate-attracting song using specialized sound-producing organs called tymbals. These sounds are among the loudest produced by any insects. In some species, the male calling song attracts both males and females to mating aggregations, while in other species males remain dispersed. Female cicadas do not have tymbals, but in some species the females produce clicking or snapping sounds with their wings. After mating, females lay eggs in bark or twigs; the eggs hatch later in the season and the new nymphs burrow underground and begin feeding on roots.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops)...

The Striped Hairstreak ranges east of the Rocky Mountains in North America from Maine across southern Canada to North Dakota; south to central Texas and the Gulf States. Southern Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

Preferred habitat is forested areas and neighboring open edges and fields.

Adult butterflies nectar from flowers including dogbane and common milkweed (preferred), chinquapin, small-flowered dogwood, New Jersey tea, meadowsweet, staghorn sumac, white sweet clover, and yarrow.

One flight from June-August in the north, April-May in Florida.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)...

The Bushtit is the only species in the family Aegithalidae found in the New World, and the only member of the genus Psaltriparus. Bushtits are sprightly, social songbirds that twitter as they fly weakly between shrubs and thickets in western North America. Almost always found in lively flocks, they move constantly, often hanging upside down to pick at insects or spiders on the undersides of leaves.

Bushtits live in oak forest, evergreen woodlands, dry scrublands, streamsides, and suburbs. You can find them at elevations from sea level to over 10,000 feet.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)...

Red Milkweed Beetles are one of the first insects to appear on Common Milkweed, usually before the plants flower. Unlike nectar eating or pollen gathering insects such as the Bumblebees seen here, the Red Milkweed Beetle prefers to munch on the flower buds or leaves to acquire the milky sap that gives this plant its name. Once blooming is complete, rarely do you see any of these beetles.

The Red Milkweed Beetle is a beetle in the family Cerambycidae that ranges from central and eastern North America north of Florida. As with many longhorn beetles, the antennae are situated very near the eye. In the Red Milkweed Beetle, this adaptation has been carried to an extreme: the antennal base bisects the eye where the antennae actually splits the eye in two.

The Red Milkweed Beetle, a herbivore, is given this name because they are generally host specific to Milkweed plants (genus Asclepias). It is thought the beetle and its early instars derive a measure of protection from predators by incorporating toxins from the plant into their bodies, thereby becoming distasteful. The red and black coloring are aposematic, advertising the beetles' inedibility. There are many milkweed-eating species of insect such as the Large and Small Milkweed bugs, the Milkweed Leaf Beetle, butterfly & moth larvae, etc. that also use the toxins contained in the plant as a chemical defense.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Female Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)...

Adult Downy Woodpeckers are mainly black on the upperparts and wings, with a white back, throat and belly and white spotting on the wings. There is a white bar above the eye and one below. They have a black tail with white outer feathers that typically have a few black spots. Adult males have a red patch on the back of the head where as juvenile birds display a red cap. They have an average body length of 5.5 - 6.7 inches (14 - 17 cm) and a wing span of 9.8 - 11.8 inches (25 - 30 cm) and are the smallest woodpecker found in North America.

The Downy's breeding habitat is forested areas, mainly deciduous, across most of North America to Central America. They nest in a tree cavity excavated by the nesting pair in a dead tree or limb. These birds are mostly permanent residents. Northern birds may migrate further south; birds in mountainous areas may move to lower elevations while roosting in tree cavities in the winter.

Downy Woodpeckers forage on trees, often turning over bark or excavating to uncover insects. They mainly eat insects, also fruits, berries and nuts, sometimes tree sap. They are also known to peck at wooden window frames and wood sided homes that may house bugs. In winter, Downy Woodpeckers can often be found in suburban backyards with trees and will feed on suet at feeders.

Look for Downy Woodpeckers in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards and vacant lots.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)...

The Eastern Chipmunk is one of around twenty-five (25) spieces of small squirrel-like rodents found living in the North American forests in the family Sciuridae, although one species is found in some European countries. The Sciuridae family includes squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), and prairie dogs. Like its close cousin the squirrel, chipmunks are very adept at climbing trees, but rarely do.

They have reddish-brown fur on the upper body and five dark brown stripes contrasting with light brown stripes along the back, ending in a dark tail. It has lighter fur on the lower part of its body. It has a tawny stripe that runs from its whiskers to below its ears, and light stripes over its eyes. The Eastern Chipmunk has two fewer teeth than other chipmunks and four toes each on the front legs, but five on the hind legs. They are about 4 - 6 inches (10 - 15 cm) long (excluding its tail) and weigh about 3 ounces (130 grams) and would easily fit in your hand.

Chipminks live in deciduous woods and urban areas in southeastern Canada and most of the northeastern United States south to Mississippi and Virginia and west to North Dakota and Oklahoma. They prefer locations with rocky areas and shrubs to provide cover.