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Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly
Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies. That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare. Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Praying Mantis at the Altar

Praying Mantis at the Altar
Praying Mantis at the Alter

A Praying Mantis at the Altar was captured from this last summer…

The purple Russian Sage was growing in and around a barberry bush and in the middle of it was this big green Mantis slowly crawling about. Crypsis is a side to side rocking motion they use to “resemble” vegetation blowing in the wind. They rock/sway a lot of the time. Really small ear buds I’m thinking 😜

They are really green when freshly molted turning brown with an old skin being ready to shed. I’ve had Mantis live 6 months down in my Wyoming Wlipini greenhouse breeding all year long. I have at least 4 years of successful Mantis Breeding on going down there. This is a wild Mantis though.

It may seem like yesterday but it’s been 63 posts since my last mantis photo lolol… Putting 6 posts a day out there adds up fast.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Praying Mantis at the Altar.

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Tachnid Fly Gardener’s Friend #3

Tachnid Fly Gardener's Friend #3
Tachind Fly Gardeners Friend #3

Tachnid Fly: A Gardener’s Friend #3

This is the third image I finished from this photo session with a Gold Tachnid Fly. Tachnid Flies as a group are wonderful things to have in your garden. They kill major insect pests that destroy our crops. Kind of a big fly, really bristly and quite a vivid appearance highlights this Tachnid Fly Gardeners Friend #3.. This capture is by far the best of 3 in the series technically. Also artistically really from this time line of finished images. The Asters were post frost pollen providers here.

In an unusual manner, SOME species of Tachnids actually have their eggs develop in their bodies. Thus giving birth to live larva which they deposit readily in caterpillars and other crop eating insects. As a group they do a tremendous service to us in general. The adulst are around your garden to drink nectar through that have their ulterior motive for visiting your garden. They inject their larva (or just eggs under the skin so the larvae will slowly digest the host bug. Killing the host as it develops. (more on this later).

Sounds like an early Japanese Horror Film. Some species of Tachnids lay a live larva on a leaf and it will crawl around looking for a host to burrow into. Then it will eat and digest it slowly from the inside out. The larvae (of course) start on the least important parts of their host to keep it alive longer. Kind of like Cow birds and Cuckoos laying their eggs in another nest.

But these guys have the added feature of killing the host. Classy Lifestyle if I may say so. . Parasitic reproduction for sure but these are not animal carrion flies that carry disease about. As I’ve said, they are our friend. Good thing they only pick on other bugs that tend to eat our crops. The eat nectar, pollens and saps as an adult. This one is munching on pollen from the surviving asters after the first heavy frost. Not much else to eat out there.

Photographers notes:

The lens I used for this is a little odd being about 2 feet long. It is only an inch in diameter. It has LED lights at the end around the lens. They tend to be a bit yellow in general but yellow plus gold is vivid. . Being “Ultra macro” with a very deep focal field is rare. Getting the fly and mostly the flower in focus is an amazing performance . Even more so considering the “plus” size that these Flies are. He’s at least 1/2 inch long if not a tad larger. Getting this close to a fly feeding with a bright light….. Esier than without the bright light 🤔📸 or so I’ve noticed.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Tachnid Fly Gardener’s Friend #3

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DragonFly’s Shadow

DragonFly's Shadow
MayFly's Shadow: Longer Than It Is

DragonFly’s Shadow. These baby ble eyed dragon flies are about 1/2 inch long had longer shadows here than their own bodies. This is definitely a dragon fly as it holds it’s wings outward when at rest. These guys Blue Eyes ROCK. I’m glad they don’t have a 6 foot wing span like their ancestors did back in the Carboniferous Swamps of Pennsylvania 😲 These guys have bcen around the planet for a long time….. just saying.🤔

Damselflies and Mayflies hold their wings to the rear at rest but they are all closely related. This little guy was casting a huge shadow…it must have been a big ego boost to the little guy hard to know lolol

This was from a few weeks ago before the recent snows just now making it’s way into my workflow. My time lag from capture to posting here is right at a week at the moment. Some much longer from the summer will crop up. I’m also refinishing a lot of older images to current standards so those will get reposted from years ago . There are some great images incoming if your just tuning in. 😊

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (I have a big backyard… 😎)

DragonFly’s Shadow

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Praying Mantis Hunting

Praying Mantis Hunting
Praying Mantis Hunting

I caught this Praying Mantis hunting on some Russian Sage out in my garden about a month ago now. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects (wet and cool) so there should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species obviously thought the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. He was “thrilled” to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂

Location: Back in the woods at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s headquarters, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

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Lady Bug Hunting

Lady Bug Hunting
Lady Bug Hunting on Yellow Yarrow

Lady Bug Hunting

Ladybug, ladybug! Fly away home.
Your house is on fire
and your children all gone.
All except one, and that’s little Ann,
for she has crept under the frying pan. (tickle child under arm)

Memories of Bugs Now Frozen

Heard that rhyme as a child more than a few times and repeated it to my boy a time or two. It instantly came to my mind when I saw this little one hunting on top of this huge (relatively) Yellow Yarrow head. I have several dozen good bug photos still to finish going into winter. None still outside after all the freezes we’ve had this fall already. It’s going to be…. errrr. is an early winter this year. As I type this it is a sub-zero Windchill outside. Twitter thinks the north pole is over Wyoming/Montana.

These guys are little tanks moving about and are happy as a clam if they have their head buried in a crack with their butt exposed to the world for all to see. The armor must work though. Boy they eat aphids like they are a delicacy. This is a wild one but I bring in thousands for my aquaponic green house to control unwanted pests. I understand that some plants produce food/odors that attract Lady Bugs as they do eat nectar and pollens when their normal prey of noxious bugs aren’t about and available.

I have been known to buy thousands of lady bug for my Aquaponic Walipini Greenhouse that has been up and running now for 5 years in December. Same tomato plant and same fish after 5 years lolol. Handfulls at a time arrive to control insect pests down in that underground greenhouse. This Lady bug is a wild one though.

This is an Adult Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus, the sevenspotted lady beetle

Location: Bliss DInoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Lady Bug Hunting

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Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn

Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn
Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn

The Green Iridescent Bee is gathering pollen from this surviving Aster after the freezes of late. This may be one of the last outdoor insect photos of this year.

This little guy is about 1/4 of an inch long total so this is an “UltraMacro” shot with a 2x mag factor at about 1 inch distance from the bee. There are lights around the optic so the slight yellow colorcast is due to that. I corrected it best I could without washing out the actual yellow of it’s body.

How to get 1 inch away from a bee….patience, and it is very much of a photo-yoga application. Smooth movements with no sudden changes of direction help tremendously lolol. Second finished image from this Photosession timeline and is a 2×3 aspect up to 36 high.

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend
Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Flies are indeed a gardeners best friend. They are parasitic in their larval life stage of course and their favorite target are major insect pests to the garden. They eat pollen etc but kill pests with their larva. They are not mammal flesh eating flies per se.
I had to laugh about the hairy butt but there must be a reason lololol.

Location: in the garden (even after several hard freezes below 20 degrees). Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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2 Striped Mameria Grasshopper

2 Striped Mameria Grasshopper

Here’s a “2 striped Mameria” grasshopper I’ve never noticed before…….. Any Entomologists out there??

Photographers notes…. Took this from 9 inches away…. Good luck getting a grasshopper to stay put sticking a camera in his face lololol….

He got my attention because he was sitting on a white puffball….. Not a toad stool in this case 🤣