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Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle
Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Hanging out in a “to do” folder this unidentified moth haunts me again. Many of you no doubt remember this guy from a much closer image I post of him. He has been seen by thousands of people and no one seems to be able to key him out and ID him. Here’s hoping someone will have a moment of recognition to a moth they saw 20 years ago.

Bug Photos are a favorite…

I had caught this fellow the night before hanging about a porch light. Then he was placed in an inflated gallon zip lock. Then into the fridge overnight. Next day I released the torpid 34 degree moth into a 60 degree environment. It had enough wits to hang on to the well lit tree branch I set him on. Between the sun and the ambient temperature, I had perhaps 2 minutes to shoot him. He did indeed flutter off in my typical catch and release program I run for my photographic volunteers. I haven’t seen many bugs since Oct 1 when winter started this year. . I think I too a photo of a Orb Weaver Spider on my front window inside my house since.

I’m about to photograph a Black Widow female I’ve kept alive. The crickets I grow in my green house’s front entry stairs. I just leave a little fish food around and they reproduce nicely all winter. The Black Widow is at least 6 months old here mid-winter. Her prison is a pyrex glass beaker on a shelf. She can not get away and I’m very careful with handling them. The biggest threat is to her not to me. They are fairly fragile. They break like an egg if you are not very careful and they are very fast. Stay tuned for that lol. .

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

Title : Muppet Moth Wider Angle

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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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Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close
Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

I have no idea of how the physic of the color center of the flake operated. It is not false color and I didn’t do it in the digital dark room. It’s not a digital artifact. Somehow there must be a polarizing film such as melted water there? But the physics say there must be a second polarizing film to draw color out of white light like this. I worked polarizing optical microscopes used in mineral analysis for years. Somehow “crossed polarizers” formed for this image to occur.

Captured using a 1:1 “macro” rated lens. (90mm Zeiss/Sony) I was able to zoom into this piece of natures artistry. As they say, no two flakes are ever the same. There are MANY different kinds of macro lenses. If you have questions about this PM me. I used an LED flashlight for the source of light hand held but there was not a polarizing lens on either the camera OR the flashlight. How this happened is beyond my level of understanding. I’m just happy to have captured it lolol. 📷

Geometric purity always amazes me. The geometric forms created under the rules of nature become phenomena… One thing I have observed and confirmed personally as a scientist over my travels, is that growth of any crystalline substance is orderly. A repetitive process, the materials used in the construction of the snowflake arrange themselves into a limited number of predetermined orientations. Science right in front of us.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

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Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly
Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Getting this close to a fly isn’t that easy. Usually they live up to their name and “fly away”. Truly not many insects like a big one eyed lens stuck into their face. The movement no matter how small triggers their built in escape and evasion mechanism. Flies pick random escape vectors to get away from danger. Really bright lights help as it tends to blind them too.

One of my macro-lenses has a bright ring of LED’s around. I’m sure it has the appearance of the sun incoming at the fly. Blind the fly and he won’t move as you approach is my take from this. The temperature was warm so he wasn’t torpid. So distraction, blind your subjects and move slowly is the lesson lolol.

Flies are never a “popular” image because they are generally nasty creatures. However they are engineered by the master of engineers

True story:

Three engineers are arguing which is the oldest of the three disciplines, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering

The mechanical engineer said ” Mechanical Engineering is the oldest profession, god was a mechanical engineer, just look at all the levers and tendons in the human body.”

The electrical engineer said ” Electrical engineering was gods work, had to make the nervous system first before any muscle could move. Electrical engineering was first.”

The Civil Engineer said “God was obviously a civil engineer. Who else but a civil engineer would run a waste canal through a recreational area. “.

(Top hat crash)

18 inch x 18 inch square aspect

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Iridescent Golden Back Fly

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro
Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro

I took this image mid summer. I found this guy near a night light Soon he was popped him into a freezer bag. Refrigerate at 34 degrees for the day. When you take them out, they will hold on to thinks but will give you a bit more time to photograph them if they are cold. They warm up fast enough but will give you a few minutes anyway. I set this reddish brown fellow on a birch branch with sun exposure. The camera starts clicking away. Macro lenses will focus usually less than a foot away. Bright light is your friend for this kind of work.

To this day I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never seen it in any google image and don’t know the systematics for moths. If you know who it is, I’d love to know.

I call it the “Muppit Moth” for lack of better terms to apply. He’s definitely a hoot with those eyes. What a proboscus too. Jimmy Durante had nothing on this guy. He has a degree of cuteness that doesn’t usually go along with insect close ups. I’d love to find another one. (Any body Remember Jimmy Durante??). The peach

After about 5 minutes of gradual warm up, it flew off to the sky. Never to be seen again. This is more or less my version of catch and release. This moment in space and time however did not get away from me. ….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cross Eyed Moth Macro

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Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider
Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider: Captured December 1, 2019. ….. Inside…..

Araneus diadematus (Cross Orb Weaver) I believe is the correct ID. I am certainly not a spider specialist however they are photogenic.

We have been under winter/cold fall conditions outside since October first. So I’m looking out the front window and notice this little home invader. It had set up shop having built a pretty good web overnight. We were sleeping of course. It had a plan to get all the bugs in here.

This is a defensive posture as he was less than thrilled with a tripod and very bright lens was put in his face. Earlier, he REALLY didn’t like the high intensity UV light I put him under to see how he looked under UV. I was disappointed in it’s appearance under UV light. I resorted to plain old LED light of a Surefire Flashlight. (About 1000 lumen.) t’s not like flies were busy getting trapped in his web. It was 30 degrees outside so he wasn’t going anywhere. Best photographic subject ever trapped with no way out lolol. I actually ended up putting him down in my Walipini Aquaponic Greenhouse (the only one in Wyoming we think still). Hopefully he’ll say on ground level (there is a 20 foot back wall) and I’ll have more of this guy.

I actually have this guy as a baby spider. I took a family photo. A few thousand of these little guys hatched out about 30 feet from this spot. They spread to the wind. This one stuck by close enough to make it in the door somehow before winter and has been hanging low ever since. It will survive the winter. I doubt there is another of it’s species in my greenhouse so probably it won’t reproduce. There are plenty of things to eat down there though. Spiders keep crickets down so I don’t mind having a few harmless ones out.

I keep a Black Widow under glass down there to feed crickets to though :). She’s a big one. I’ll get her on film soon I’m thinking😀

You guys on “PhotoAssignment”, you can hear my wife (and some of you) scream! 😋

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (front picture window inside!)

Title: Orb Weaver Winter Spider

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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.

Photographic Musings:

This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸

Mini-Lesson for working on Manual:
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎


Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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Bumble Bee Up Close

Bumble Bee Up Close
Bumble Bee Up Close

This Bumble Bee Up Close image was obviously from this summer as it’s a -8 Windchill as I type this post lolol.

A factory 90mm sony macro lens at mimimum focal distance of about 9 inches caught this fellow feeding. The focal plane is perhaps 1/8th inch deep, maybe 3/16’th of an inch depending on how much light I set the camera for (f22). Bright sunlight is the ONLY way your going to get in this close with a standard 1X lens.

Photographers Notes: Discussion on Macro-photography

Macro lenses come from 1x up to 5 x that I have found. I have several Chinese built lenses that can do pretty impressive work in the upper magnification. A 1X Sony Macro lens took this image as I said. Sort of a miniature telephoto but with only a little thin layer of focus. Working these lenses require you to get in the hollyhocks with all the bees. I wouldn’t do this if your allergic to bees but I’ve never been stung doing it, yet….🤔

Thin focus fields: Anything in front of or behind that depth of focus zone is OUT of focus. You can see various areas that are JUST out of the optimum distance and position of the depth of field focus zone.📸

A lot of photographers use dead insects. I’m absolutely good with that to a point… I prefer to keep a bug in a bag overnight in a 33 degree refrigerator. Don’t freeze it. Then you can put it onto a flower under studio conditions for a few minutes before it warms up so have some cameras ready to catch him moving as well. Hard to adjust your settings under warming up bee pressure lolol. Insects waking from being cold are always candid since you don’t know how they will react. It’s different for each species I suspect. You can always put it back in the fridge😁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee Up Close

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Solar Panels for Pumping Water

Solar Panels for Pumping Water
Solar Panels for Pumping Water

Here at the Bliss Ranch we use solar panels for pumping water in several places. We are pretty green for a ranch…..

Alternative energy seems from my vantage point of having solar and wind systems for 25 years to be useful in areas where regular electric lines are not available. Using all the energy your panels produce pumping a dedicated water well is way more efficient than selling your excess energy back to the grid (net metering). I currently make about 100 bucks a month off of a 4000 watt solar array selling it back to the utility with my grid connected solar array.

Lets do the math. 35000 dollar installation 15 years ago. (lifetime of panels is around 20 years but I have some 25 year old and still working). Had one fail). I make 100 bucks a month from them…. 1200 dollars a year x 15 years = 18000 dollars. Of course I had to replace 6000 dollars of batteries at the 10 year mark so the system costs 41,000 dollars. (I did all the work myself by the way….it was cheap for 2005. ). So total cost of system to date = 41000. In 15 years it has made 18000 dollars. (or that’s 18000 I didn’t spend). Total loss to date is 22000 dollars for that experiment. Now if it cost 60K to run electricity to a house, it might be worth it.

Now prices have come down a bit on the panels to where you MIGHT MAYBE POSSIBLY could come close to breaking even if your grid connected. Might take about 20 years but the energy spent making and delivering the panels to you just blew that out of the water as far as carbon economy (lolol).

My conclusion after owning a solar array for 15 years…. money loosing proposition IF your on the grid. If your off grid, it’s better than no electricity. I have a well with 6 solar panels that pumps water for several hundred cattle in a remote pasture. It’s a mile from power. Cost would be 60K to run line electricty to it. Cost of solar well including the well, 20K. I’ve had to replace the pump a few times at a grand a piece and lost one of the older panels to weather. Net cost benefit on that well.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Solar Panels for Pumping Water.

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Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation
Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

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Bee on a Summer Day

Bee on a Summer Day
Bee on a Summer Day

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day.

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail in the bokeh is the dividing line of two planters on our lodges main “patio”. It’s nice and warm on that concrete pad. THe first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee on a Summer Day”.

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Bee On a TINY Bloom

Bee On a TINY Bloom
Bee On a TINY Bloom

Bumble Bee On a TINY Bloom

The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which do exist as well).

This guy is getting a LITTLE pollen from this (I think) sedum flower . It’s a TINY blossom and this bee is going to get every last piece of pollen off it before he leaves lolol.

Ultra close macro lenses are really a challenge to work since they have a very thin depth of field so getting everything is focus is your priority. Move your head 1/4 inch and the focus shifts back and forth with you.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Bumble Bee on a TINY bloom

: Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow

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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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Tiffany Broach or Snowflake

Tiffany Broach or Snowflake
Tiffany Broach or Snowflake

A Tiffany Broach or Snowflake?

Pearls, Diamonds, Sapphires of several colors, opals.

Or Frozen Water?

Of course I’m a poor photographer not able to afford the former and have to work the later. I think this happened by a partially melted the refrozen flake.

Photographers notes. There are any number of macro lenses out there but the lighting is the game. I’m using a handheld LED flashlight to get so much light onto the flake against a relatively dark background. So far this year, perfectly formed snowflakes have been rare. Pellets and very fine snow powder have been my choices but for a few. I have some time remaining in Winter up here in the borderlands so it’s a matter of time. Winter is coming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Tiffany Broach or Snowflake

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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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Book of Snowflakes

Book of Snowflakes
Book of Snowflakes

Reading a Book of Snowflakes

There are actually 3 if not 4 flakes in this thin book of snowflakes. The temperature/humidity/pressure has to be just so for books to form. They can all crow from the same center ice needle. Each flake of course is unique in the book. Sitting on a coats fur collar, this flake has long since turned to ice in a pile or has sublimated from solid to gas directly. IT’s been a winter so far of mostly ice pellets. About 6 snows in October I think.. Our air is dry here and sublimation is a major source of snow disappearance by a direct phase change. Captured in a tiny tiny moment of time and space. Forever now launched in Cyberspace as once it’s on Facebook, it’s stored until the internet finally crashes lol.

Setting the proper mood:

There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,
unlatching the fortochka in the morning light.
Let’s name them all, love, along the way.

Last night snow danced its boreal ballet
of whorls and swirls, fine arabesques in white—
you know hundreds of names for snow, you say.

Down crystalline paths we slip and spin, surveying
ice falls, tall drifts, single flakes in flight—
my love and I count them along the way.

In my head, sparking visions start to play:
once love’s begun, who knows? Perhaps we might—
There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,

gently, their meanings subtle, hard to convey—
elusive as love’s many meanings last night.
I wait. You walk—silent—along your way.

Feeling foolish, unschooled, I whisk away
a sudden, childish tear obscuring my sight.
You know hundreds of names for love, you say:
I’ll learn them all, love, along my way.

— Katherine E. Young : Public Domain

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Location: Montana/Wyoming borderlands.

A Book of Snowflakes

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Last of the Butterflies

Last of the Butterflies
Last of the Butterflies for 2019

This is certainly one if not THE last of the Butterflies for 2019. The next day all these flowers were frozen and most of the insects were pretty much destroyed as well if they hadn’t crawled into a warm spot. These high ridges get harsher, windier, colder, wetter weather than the lower river valleys we have such great views of. It is 12 degrees as I type this at 6AM… there is snow on the ground, hard freezes continue and will do so through the harsh winter I predict to come this year of low sunspot activity. In fact, the winter came early this year to the borderlands of Wyotana. Started October 1…

There will be a few more insect macros trickling in left over from this summer but remember I am reworking most of my older images to current standards and those will be posted as they are finished. 🤘 Those re-worked images will be working their way into my posts all winter. I am literally buried under the crush of images I have to work on this winter. Having said that… Job security is a good thing😀. I have a great deal of trouble identifying bugs, birds and flowers as I’m a paleontologist. Got my fossils all down, flowers bees and bugs….not so much lololol.

This little guy is Boloria eunomia. (Bog Fritillary is it’s common name ?) Their population exceeds 1 million and are a Northern Tier of central states and Canada distribution. Wyoming to Wisconsin then up to Alaska through Canada is common. Anybody see one further south than Wyoming?? Those that know say the population exceeds 1 million, I have maybe 1/2 that up here at times lolol… Their preferred habitat is “alpine tundra” according to the web. That pretty much describes this place most of the year lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Last of the Butterflies

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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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Lady Bug Beard

Lady Bug Beard
Lady Bug Beard

Photographing a Lady Bug Beard is not that straight forward as you might think…. They always try to hide from your lens and are usually constantly moving anyway.

The Problem

Getting a LadyBug to cooperate for the camera is one tough negotiation. Like dealing with a millennial that is triggered and melting to calm down…. Stick a big lens in my face will you kind of stuff 😜 Some Ladies just don’t want their photograph taken for any reason. Getting that little beard has been a bucket list item of mine lolol ✔️☑️

Hunting hard constant motion

Mostly, Lady Beetles are in constant motion hunting surfaces for small parasites. Travelling easily on both side of the leaf with little regard to the camera lens following them. This leads to some frustrating moments for sure. You JUST get it in focus the way you want her and zip off she goes around the leaf.I have to invoke “Photo-Yoga” to keep up with them as usually shifting one’s feet will cause too many things to move in the flower patch.

So you learn to lean with a 5 pound camera for long minutes at a time. I love photo-yoga… It’s sort of how I stay “in shape” these days . That and a lot of walking backcountry ridges with 20 pounds of gear lol. I put at least a mile in each day walking around here. Usually carrying something lol.

Anything you do enough of, you will eventually succeed I find. You’ll at least get better while failing eventually😜At any rate, the way to succeed in photography is to mostly keep a camera with you and figure out how it works. Then there is the computer side of this lololol

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Be safe the rest of this fine Saturday.Have fun but be safe in what you do.

Lady Bug Beard

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Bumble Bee and Lilacs

Bumble Bee and Lilacs
Bumble Bee Gathering from Lilacs in the Spring

Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.

We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.

Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).

With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee and Lilacs

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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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Black Widow on Tiger Chert

Black Widow on Tiger Chert
Black Widow Hunting on Tiger Chert

Black Widow for Halloween

I had turned over this big boulder of Tiger Chert (kinda rare) out by a building leading to this little Black Widow Hunting (me about then) . The boulder of Tiger Chert about 90 pounds (I carried it down a pretty good mountain in a frame pack…. I know lol). So you reach under it to tip it over right?…… Up here you reach under it with gloves on and here is one (just one) of the reason why. Working bare handed turning anything over in Wyoming/Montana is not necessarily the right thing to do lolol.

This Black Widow hunting on Tiger Chert had another agenda than I did. I wonder if it’s like the ground hog and we’re in for an early winter if it see’s it’s shadow? I’m pretty sure it saw that shadow…. Well I know for a fact this gal now resides in an escape proof glass terrarium down in my green house now where she is going to be in a few photosessions I hope. She gets fed a cricket or so a week from the green houses endless supply of crickets lolol. Ultra macro work on her might just be an interesting time spent with a camera dead winter .

Tiger Chert for Rockhounders

As you might expect, the rock is exotic. Oil Chert or Tiger Chert is a fairly rare variety of Silicate mineral.. Named for the alternating bands of light and darker browns or tans, the banding reflects the yearly deposition of sediment into the bottom of prehistoric Lake Gosiute. Outcrops of the material usually occur south and west of Rock Springs as well as a few other places in the Green River Basin. I found this WAY north and east of Dubois Wyoming so this one is an outlier. It was up high when I found it too. Big effort to retrieve it and it still follows me around.

The concoidal fracture and homogenous nature of Tiger Chert made it a favorite of flint nappers throughout the period of human habitation in North America. It occurs in archaeological sites of all ages. It’s beautifully banded, reminds me of tree rings but those were yearly mudstone lake sediments that were literally “replaced” by silicious chert in the diagenetic history of the rock deep in the Wind River Ranges. Many mis-identify it as petrified wood. It’s very similar in composition with most petrified wood but it didn’t used to be wood 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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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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Frost Feather

Frost Feather
Frost Feather

This Frost Feather was actually on the bottom of a very well insulated window taken from the inside out with a flashlight doing the highlighting. Dark as pitch outside. COLD AS HECK…

Seeing this as it was small…

This was a TINY 1/2 inch growth which was just screaming to take it’s photo as frost is so Fractal in it’s design by the master architect of such things. Window frost forms as a pane of glass is exposed to sub-freezing temperatures on the outside freezing the relatively moist air on the inside.  Water vapor from the air condenses as frost on the inside surface of the window.  The picture above demonstrates a patch of window frost about the size of U.S. Quarter Coin. .  Window frost often makes elaborate patterns as the crystal growth is strongly influenced by the window surface because scratches, residual soap, cleaning streaks, etc., can all modify the way the crystals nucleate and grow.

Damage?

Window frost was more common in the before about the 1970’s, when houses still had single-pane windows.  Snow used to actively blow in the windows of the 1970s ranch house we first moved into up here lol. The newer double-pane windows are working far better insulators and thus not so cold on the inside surfaces. Frost can cause damage because as it melts, it transfers moisture to whatever is next to it. If that’s a wooden window, it can discolor varnish and crack paint or even damage the wood. Frost can also melt off single-paned windows and seep down into a wall. resulting in damage of one kind or another.

If moisture is not handled swiftly and completely, mold can begin to grow. Keep it warm and dry inside to avoid the frost. A dehumidifier will help. But the best way is to replace older inefficient windows with double or triple layer windows. Boy they make some nice ones these day lolol. (Ours are 20 years old and one just lost a seal 😖. ).

We had a lot of moisture/rain/snow today. Wet year overall so far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Frost Feather18 x 18 inch square aspect.

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Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ”

Fossil Tail Vertebra "In situ" in Hell Creek Formation
Fossil Tail Vertebra "In situ" in Hell Creek Formation

Geologic Musings: This Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ” (in the rock) was taken on an outcrop of Hell Creek Formation we at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch have been working for well over a decade. This small Tail Vertebra from a Dinosaurian got itself a photo. It was experiencing the first light from the sun in some time you might say and had a hankerin’ for a little “limelight”. Here’s some old “wildlife” from the Wyotana borderlands. 🤔

I’m not sure of the name of the previous owner but it sure cleaned up nicely when all that white crust (which is commonly around fossils up here being sort of a chemical reaction area with ground water fluids bearing alternative minerals with them. A reaction rind so to speak. When cleaned with a tooth brush and water, the real bone structure is visible. It’s not crocodile for sure. I know what it’s not….

Paleontological Stuff:

Hell Creek/Lance Formations are the Cretaceous River Sands/muds the dinosaurs hung out on. Our Ranch is covered with both formations across the MT/WY state line where the Formations change names formally. Same rocks, different name.🤣

I got my masters degree on all things Paleo-Environmental……..I was one one of the first Pale-environmentalist ever minted lolol. There is another that will read this I graduated with. Hi Dave!

So, paleo-topography when this dinosaur roamed was a broad equitorial coastal plain sloping like the piedmont of North Carolina east facing toward the then interior sea way Stretching from the current Gulf of Mexico across the continent to Canada.

Facies: (good google word with geology attached) At the same time in adjacent locations there were the land sandy deposition, the Beach Sand (you know with the little umbrellas mixed in with the sands) and the Marine Sediments were to the east with Cephalopods, Marine Dinosaurs and a host of deeper water fossils.
My ranch and most of the eastern parts of MT/WY/CO gets it’s water from those beach sands (Fox Hill Formation) which is UNDER the Hell Creek/Lance that eventually built OVER the older beach as the growing land filled up the interior sea. That terrestrial riverine environment is at the surface now with younger sediments removed. We do find some sand blasted petrified wood that are residual in the surface sediments that have been removed relics all. The Hell Creek Lance sands all came from now gone large mountain range to the west of the current location of the BigHorn Mountain.. Those missing mountains provided the Sands for the Dinosaurs to walk on.

Huge Rivers the size of the Missouri swept back and forth across the land choked in sand. Many times fossils were moved and buried several times by the meandering occasionally flooding rivers of the Cretaceous Hell Creek Plain. This sediment was laid down at the end of the age of Dinosaurs with T-rex and Triceratops being key players…. .

There is a reason we are Called the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Location: Montana/Wyoming borderlands.

Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ”

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It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table

It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table
It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table

As this Bee Approaching the Dinner Table (Hollyhock), I had to anticipate where it was going to Bee.

Photographers notes: Everything is mostly out of focus but the bee. The focal depth at 9 inches (closest focus for this Sony 90mm Macro) from the bee with this lens is perhaps 1/2 inch deep even with a lot of light and high f numbers. Anything in that 1/2 thick plain is sharp, anything else is blurred. Somethings are ultra sharp and others not so much. That is part of the Macro game is figuring out where that zone is and waiting around at very high shutter speeds 9 inches from the “approach” angle to this flower. I was 90 degrees and focused on the center of the flower ….Hang out and wait (remember when it was warm? ) for a bee to come by at a busy landing strip…. Hold that photo-yoga position number 15 for as long as it takes.😄

This is harder than catching flies between two Chopsticks with all due respect for Mr. Miyagi.

A few more bee photos will straggle onto my posting schedules still left over from summer and some reposts over the winter to remember those warm days.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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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.