My apologies: this is one of the most interesting bad photographs I’ve ever taken–a female ichneumonid wasp using her 4″ ovipositor to lay an egg deep inside a piece of our firewood. Unfortunately, it found her in action at 8:30 last night on the way in from shutting the chickens in the coup. The little Powershot does not do well in macro with a flash. ** 2010-05-28 1231PM update: got a daytime shot and replaced the crappy night shot that was up first thing …

God’s Monstrosity: the Ichneumonid Wasp Read more »

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many congregations of swallowtails on our road at one time. The image above shows only part of one patch, and there were watering holes all up and down the lane from barn to bend, each with 20 to more than 50 * yellow male tiger swallowtails exclusively (a yellow phase female might have slipped in while the guys were tanking up). So I figured maybe there was a sports-bar atmosphere going on here. But there has also …

We Brake for Butterflies Read more »

An Ant-looking Blister Beetle

If you look in Google Images for this flightless creature that looks like an obese steel-blue ant, you’ll not find another picture among the many of this insect in a human hand–like the one you see here perched on my thumb. There’s a reason for that: others realized that this insect belongs to a group of beetles called “blister beetles” because it exudes a caustic excretion from its leg joints. I knew it was a beetle but not about the blister part. I will …

Biota of the Blue Ridge: Oil Beetle Read more »

Carpenter Bees are Boring (Holes)

Maybe I’m crazy. I know there are times SHE thinks so, when so many chores must be done, and all of them call out to be done first. What does HE do? Runs inside to grab his camera, on a quest: to see if he can get a shot of a carpenter bee in flight. Ah, the misunderstood life of the eccentric arthropod-artiste! The male  carpenter bees–the ones that hovered long enough in place patrolling their territories off the front steps–encouraged me to think …

Flight of the Carpenter Bee Read more »