Posts Tagged ‘predator’

The ugly side of Mother Nature

October 1, 2017

A Big Bluet damselfly (Enallagma durum) was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, eating a teneral damselfly.

10 SEP 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Big Bluet (male, eating prey)

I think they may both be Big Bluets. Source Credit: Michael Moore, Virginia Odonata Facebook group.

Some species of odonates are cannibals, that is, they feed on their own species. And there it is — the ugly side of Mother Nature!

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Northern Watersnake

June 13, 2017

A Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) was spotted during a photowalk along Pope’s Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

03 MAY 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Northern Watersnake

Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo. Did you notice the fresh blood on the underside of its body? Also notice the scar on the dorsal side of the snake’s body. The former is probably blood from prey; the latter is probably the result of an attack by another predator.

03 MAY 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Northern Watersnake

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Arachnids 2, Odonates 0

March 23, 2017

A spider was observed preying upon a teneral damselfly at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. The genus/species of the spider is uncertain; the damselfly appears to be a female Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis).

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

According to experts on the BugGuide Facebook group, the spider is probably an unknown species from the Family Araneidae (Orb Weavers).

Post Update: Ashley Bradford, a local arachnid expert and excellent all-around amateur naturalist, identified the spider as an Arabesque Orbweaver (Neoscona arabesca). Thanks, Ashley!

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

Aperture Priority mode was used for the next photo, in order to increase the depth of field. As you can see, the depth of field at f/8.0 was insufficient for both the damselfly and spider to be in focus.

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

A dragonfly was trapped in a spider web at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The dragonfly, possibly an immature male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), is infested with parasitic red water mites.

22 JUN 2016 | Meadowood Recreation Area | dragonfly in spider web

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Almost perfect

March 17, 2017

Sometimes I get so focused on the subject of a photo that I don’t see the bigger picture. Although I recognize the problem, I can’t think of a simple solution.

04 OCT 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | predators and prey

The preceding photo shows a Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia) spider spotted at Huntley Meadows Park; a Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) is trapped in the spider web. I was so focused on getting a shot of the spider in a good position relative to the dragonfly that I never noticed the Chinese Mantid (Tenodera sinensis sinensis) on the right side of the photo. That is, until I returned home.

Notice that I clipped one of the mantid’s legs on the left side of its body (right edge of the photo). That’s the sort of thing that drives me crazy! If I had seen the mantid then I would have recomposed the shot in order to capture all three insects completely. Oh well, another hard lesson learned about wildlife photography.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies (males, eating)

February 13, 2017

Two Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies (Stylurus plagiatus) were spotted during photowalks at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR). Both individuals are males, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of their abdomen, “indented” hindwings (see annotated image), and their terminal appendages.

Members of the genus Stylurus are known as “Hanging Clubtails” because they usually perch hanging vertically from trees, unlike most other species of clubtails that perch horizontally on the ground.

Most of them spend much time in flight over water, leading to speculation whether species of this genus may feed in flight rather than from a perch like most other clubtails. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 6127-6128). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Both of the male Russet-tipped Clubtails featured in this post were observed feeding from a perch in a tree, although a sample size of two may be insufficient for drawing a meaningful conclusion.

22 September 2016

The first individual is eating a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) .

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, eating a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male, eating)

The next photo is my favorite in the set. The color, clarity, and composition combine to create a beautiful canvas for conveying the brutality of the eat-or-be-eaten natural world.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, eating a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male, eating)

The last photo was shot using Aperture Priority mode in order to achieve maximum depth of field.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, eating a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).

22 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male, eating)

27 September 2016

The last individual is eating an unknown species of winged insect.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, eating an unknown winged insect.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male, eating)

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Camouflage

January 16, 2017

Some moths are so well camouflaged they’re easy to overlook — a good survival strategy that protects them from predators.

Tulip-tree Beauty moth

A Tulip-tree Beauty moth (Epimecis hortaria) was spotted near Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Bill Yule, a member of the BugGuide Facebook group, for identifying this specimen. Alonso Abugattas — Natural Resources Manager, Arlington County Parks, Virginia — added the following comment to the thread: “It’s the largest of our local geometrid (inchworm) moths.”

Underwing moth

An unknown species of Underwing moth (Catocala sp.) was spotted along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park.

The forest was so dark where this moth was perching that I had to set my external flash unit for high power in order to expose the subject properly, resulting in the underexposed background.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Teá Kesting-Handly, a member of the BugGuide Facebook group, for identifying this specimen. Ms. Kesting-Handly cautioned that the species is challenging to identify without seeing the hindwings. Quoting a follow-up comment on Facebook, “I looked over my collection of Catocala again, and compared to your photos, and I can say with a high degree of certainty it is Catocala ilia.” Thanks for the extra effort on my behalf, Teá!

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

CSI: Dyke Marsh

December 22, 2016

You are looking at the scene of a brutal crime committed on 20 July 2016 at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo. Do you see any forensic evidence that indicates what probably happened just before the photo was taken?

The preceding photo shows a Big Bluet damselfly (Enallagma durum) that was spotted along the Potomac River at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his blue and black coloration and by his terminal appendages. Big Bluets prefer tidal bays and big rivers.

Related Resource: More Big Bluet damselflies is a blog post by Walter Sanford that features more photos of Big Bluet males as well as a mating pair.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Spreadwing damselfly (male, eating)

December 18, 2016

Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted in the forest near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by his deep blue eyes, familiar yellow racing stripe on the side of its thorax, bluish-white coloration on abdominal segments 9-10 (S9-10), and distinctive terminal appendages (claspers).

While I was sitting on my Coleman camp stool watching the male damselfly, suddenly he flew up and around head and landed near the same spot where he had been perching. I know from experience this type of behavior suggests the damselfly probably grabbed something to eat.

The following brief time-series of photos shows the damselfly eating an unknown species of winged insect.

11:19:52 a.m. EST

11:19:58 a.m. EST

11:20:14 a.m. EST

Editor’s Note: If you check the EXIF for all three photos, then you will see the time stamp is one hour later than the times shown above. 06 November was the first time I used my camera since the end of Daylight Saving Time (at 2:00 a.m. the same day) — I forgot to reset the time in-camera!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bad day to be a bee!

September 14, 2016

A Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber fly (Family Asilidae), was spotted during a recent photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female.

Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo.

Did you notice the robber fly is preying upon a bee?

Robber flies feed mainly on other insects. (Whew, that’s a relief!)

The fly attacks its prey by stabbing it with its short, strong proboscis injecting the victim with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which very rapidly paralyze the victim and soon digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied material through the proboscis. Source Credit: Asilidae, from Wikipedia.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Deadly Cobras!

August 29, 2016

Several Cobra Clubtail dragonflies (Gomphus vastus) were spotted during a photowalk along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Cobra Clubtail seems to be a voracious predator. Three individuals were observed eating smaller insects.

Male 1

The first individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. He is eating a Crane Fly.

Male 2

Another male was observed eating a small butterfly, possibly an Eastern Tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas).

Female

The last individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and the rounded shape of its hind wings. She is eating an unknown species of damselfly (female).

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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