Posts Tagged ‘grasshopper’

To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before (Part 3)

December 22, 2014

This is the third installment in a three-part series featuring some of my favorite photos of female dragonflies spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014.

The following photos show a Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted on 12 October 2014, perching near the base of the berm that was built as part of the wetland restoration project. This individual is a heteromorph female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, heteromorph)

Notice the insect (I presume) perching in front of the dragonfly, as shown in the next two photos. A couple of members of the BugGuide Facebook group think this may be a grasshopper nymph, possibly a species of Short-horned Grasshopper (Family Acrididae).

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, heteromorph)

Why didn’t the dragonfly eat the insect?

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, heteromorph)

The Backstory: I wandered along the berm looking for dragonflies until I reached the small observation platform located above the new water control structure that is used to manage water levels in the central wetland. I discovered an unknown plant near the edge of the forest, to the left of the platform. What appear to be beautiful crimson red flowers are in fact the seed pods of Virginia marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum). The seed pods remind me of tiny rosebuds. But I digress.

Virginia marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

When I returned to berm, fellow odonate enthusiast Lova Brown Freeman pointed out the female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly shown in the preceding photos. At first, the dragonfly was perching on jute used to protect post-construction ground cover plantings. The coloration of the dragonfly and jute were an almost perfect match, making the dragonfly difficult to see through the viewfinder of my camera. Fortunately for me, the dragonfly moved to a piece of bark, making it easier to find and photograph. Good find, and thanks for sharing, Lova!

Lova is a talented craftsperson who specializes in crocheting. Many of Lova’s craft items are nature-themed. Visit Lova’s Crafty Caboodle for more information.

Editor’s Note: Credit Dr. Edward Eder and Mr. Alonso Abugattas for independently identifying the unknown plant, shown above.

On re-examining the photo I noticed that the “flowers” were not flowers at all but rather seed pods. Saint Johnswort has red seed pods that look a lot like this picture. Source Credit: Personal communication, Dr. Edward Eder.

Cool, is that Marsh St. Johnswort, Triadenum virginicum (sometimes called Hypericum virginicum)? What a great find! I don’t think that’s supposed to be found around here, not in Fairfax or Arlington anyway. That might be a new county record if the park decides to get a voucher and report it to the state. Source Credit: Alonso Abugattas Jr., Capital Naturalist Facebook group.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

First foray into macro photography

December 4, 2014

I visited Huntley Meadows Park on 30 November 2014 for my first foray into macro photography. I field tested a new Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (fitted with a Sto-Fen OM-EW Omni-Bounce, an inexpensive plastic snap-on flash diffuser). The Raynox DCR-250, like other close-up filters and extension tubes, reduces the minimum focusing distance between the lens and subject.

The following photograph of a male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) was taken at maximum telephoto zoom (24x) without using the Raynox close-up filter. The camera was positioned near the mininum focusing distance from the subject, in this case approximately six feet (~6′). The photo was cropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) to a pixel size of 2,690 x 2,016 (5.4 MP), in order to enlarge the subject and improve the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 107mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/5.1 | 1/800s

The same dragonfly perched on my pant leg a while later. The next photograph was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. I estimate the “working distance” between the camera and subject was approximately three-to-six inches (~3-6″). Now that’s what I call a cooperative model! The photo is uncropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) and edited lightly.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/80s

Dragonflies have the finest vision in the insect world. The compound eyes in the largest species have as many as 30,000 simple eyes (ommatidia). Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 281-282). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The next photo shows another male dragonfly perching on the boardwalk. The picture was taken at ~6x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated six-to-10 inches (~6-10″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,407 x 2,555 pixels (8.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 27.9mm (~150mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/100s

The last photo shows an unknown species of grasshopper. The picture was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated three-to-six inches (~3-6″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,593 x 2,693 pixels (9.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Unknown grasshopper

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/160s

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a relatively inexpensive solution that enables my Panasonic superzoom digital camera to be used for macro photography. Set-up is quick and easy — the filter simply clips on the front of the camera lens using a universal adapter, just like a lens cap. Depth-of-field is very shallow! A cooperative subject, good light, and a lot of patience are essential for success.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

May I have the next dance?

September 27, 2014

Clip-wing Grasshoppers (mating pair)

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a mating pair of Clip-wing Grasshoppers (Metaleptea brevicornis), also known as Silent Slant-faced Grasshoppers. The male is on top; the female on the bottom.

The individual shown on the right is probably a male Short-winged Green Grasshopper (Dichromorpha viridis).

Thanks to the following members of the BugGuide Facebook group for their kind assistance in identifying the grasshoppers shown in the preceding photo: Michael Jared Thomas; Dan Johnson; and Eric Eaton.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Differential grasshopper

December 10, 2013

Another Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) spotted along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park.

Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A pair of pests

December 4, 2013

Differential grasshopper and Brown marmorated stink bug

The preceding photo shows a pair of pests spotted along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park: a Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis); and a Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys).

Differential grasshopper

September 13, 2012

A Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) spotted during a photowalk along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. I’ve never seen a golden grasshopper, and as it turns out, this was in fact an uncommon sighting in Northern Virginia USA!


Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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