Sunset

Sunset, Rockville

Sunset, Rockville

I took a few pictures of flowers in the yard when I got home but then I went to my men’s meeting and on the way home stopped to take a few sunset pictures. This was taken from Veterans Park at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville PIke, looking west (obviously). I like that there is some color reflected in the building on the left. We haven’t had a lot of spectacular sunsets lately so we’ll take what we get. That’s one feature of the spring and fall that I particularly like, though, along with the cooler temperatures, of course.

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Sushi Damo

Salmon Roe (ikura), Mackerel (saba), and Salmon (sake)

Salmon Roe (ikura), Mackerel (saba), and Salmon (sake)

With a very few exceptions, I like pretty much all the seafood I’ve had the opportunity to try (but ask me about Kæstur hákarl sometime). This includes pretty much any sushi and sashimi I’ve had. I particularly enjoy sashimi because of the delicate flavors of the various fish. I think my favorite is mackerel (although I’m not sure ‘delicate’ is the right adjective for the flavor of mackerel) so that’s the star of this plate. The salmon and salmon roe were both good, too. This was our second plate of three and all the food we had was delicious. As for Sushi Damo as a restaurant, I’d say that while the food is as good as you’d expect, it isn’t necessarily better than places that are a bit less expensive. So, not my new favorite for sushi, but still good.

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Skipper

Skipper on <em>Verbena bonariensis</em>

Skipper on Verbena bonariensis

The skippers are out in force these days. I got one picture with three of them on a single bunch of flowers. They move around a lot, making it a little harder to get a good picture but there are so many of them you can almost pick a flower and wait for one to land on it. They are somewhat plain as butterflies go. The butterflies and skippers are grouped together in the superfamily Papilionoidea under the order Lepidoptera. The other superfamilies (there are quite a few) are all moths.

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Theresa and Maureen

Theresa and Maureen

Theresa and Maureen

We had the memorial gathering for Ralph today at our house and it was wonderful and sad and good and difficult and fun and exhausting. We had (at best count) 108 people in our house between 2:00 and 6:00 PM (but not quite that many at any given time). That’s a pretty good crowd and it was really nice to meet some of the folks Ralph worked with and even more of the folks he caved with. We could not have done it without the selfless help of a few really good friends and these two were amazing. They had never met before today but I was sure they were going to hit it off. They did and it wasn’t long before they were tag-team teasing me. Thanks to all who helped and to all who came to remember Ralph, brother, son, father, grandfather, caver, robotics vision expert, and all around nice guy.

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Eristalis tranversa (Transverse Flower Fly)

Eristalis tranversa (transverse flower fly)

Eristalis tranversa (transverse flower fly)

I was off work yesterday and today, getting ready for the gathering coming up tomorrow. I still took a break each day to get pictures. Before I had gotten very far into the backyard this afternoon I spotted this transverse flower fly (Eristalis tranversa) on a black-eyed Susan Rudbekia sp.). It’s a pretty little fly and the color pattern on its abdomen is quite distinctive. They especially seem to like the black-eyed Susans with which they match quite well. I didn’t have very good lighting for most of the pictures I took but managed to get a few (including this one) with a single on-camera flash that turned out a bit better.

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Melittia cucurbitae (Squash Vine Borer)

Melittia cucurbitae (Squash Vine Borer)

Melittia cucurbitae (Squash Vine Borer)

I went out to take pictures of a carpenter bee this afternoon but before I got to where she was, I saw this moth, a squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae), on the Herrenhausen oregano (Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’). It’s not a terribly good specimen. Much of the orange on its abdomen has been rubbed off, but it’s a pretty distinctive little clearwing moth (family Sesiidae). I got some good photos of the carpenter bee, as well, but since I’m almost certain to have more photos of those I decided to post this one instead.

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Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)

Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)

Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)

The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is in bloom and it’s a lovely, orange accent in the back of the garden. I’d be happy to have more of this, either the standard orange or the lovely, yellow variety. I’d also like to get some Asclepias curassavica, known as blood flower, although that’s not winter hardy anywhere near this far north. It can, apparently, be grown easily as an annual from seed. I might also try to get some Asclepias purpurascens, commonly called purple milkweed. It’s a native and I am pretty sure I’ve seen it at the farm, so I could dig some up there or get some seeds.

The large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) is a common visitor to butterfly weed (one of the milkweed family) and is particularly well suited for hiding among the flowers of A. tuberosa.

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Cupido comyntas (Eastern Tailed-Blue)

Cupido comyntas (Eastern Tailed-Blue)

Cupido comyntas (Eastern Tailed-Blue)

This little butterfly, an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas) is a fairly common visitor to our garden and can be seen throughout the region. It’s not the easiest butterfly to photograph, partly because of it’s diminutive size (it’s small) and partly because it’s a fairly shy critter and doesn’t like being approached. But this one let me get close enough for a pretty good shot. It was late enough in the day that the light wasn’t as good as I’d have liked and this was taken with the aid of the camera’s on-board flash. It isn’t the best lighting for small subjects but in this case it worked out reasonably well.

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Mushroom

Mushroom

Mushroom

I’m not all that happy with this picture, but it’s what I have for today. We’ve had a pretty good run of insects and flowers, with a few people pictures interspersed among them. This mushroom appeared a couple days ago but today it was open. I took a bunch of pictures from the edge and then tipped it over so I could see the gills on the underside. Wikipedia describes a gill as “a papery hymenophore rib under the cap of some mushroom species.” I like that. I think from now on, I’ll call them papery hymenophore ribs.

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Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on Buddleia

Tiger Swallowtail (<em>Papilio glaucus</em>) on Buddleia

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on Buddleia

Once the buddleia comes into bloom, which has happened in the last week or so, it’s a rare day when there isn’t at least one tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) fluttering around the yard. They aren’t anywhere as near as common and the many skippers (family Hesperiidae) that we have by the dozens or even as the cabbage whites (Pieris rapae), but pretty common. And of course they are much more striking. I particularly like then when the sun is on them or even shining through them and they are against a clear, blue afternoon sky, as this one is. The color on the upper side of the hindwings identifies this as a female, just in the act of taking off from the flower.

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Iris domestica

<em>Iris domestica</em>

Iris domestica

This is the so called blackberry lily, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis but now renamed to Iris domestica. It’s a pretty little thing. each individual bloom lasts a day (or a fraction of a day, really) but they come one after the other for a nice, long while. They are, as you can see, very eye-catching. Each year we collect the seeds from them and scatter them around in other parts of the garden. Of course, they get moved by birds, as well. This is a seedling, growing on the edge of a garden bed in the center of our back yard, among the Verbena bonariensis, with which it contrasts very nicely.

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Cerceris fumipennis

Cerceris fumipennis

Cerceris fumipennis

After taking the picture of the lady beetle larva in the woods, I crossed the stream on a fallen tree trunk. I worked my way from there through a fairly dense area of brambles and small trees to the slope that leads to what I call the uplands part of the empty lot. This is about 30 feet higher than the lowlands across the stream and it is mostly clear of trees. It is filled with ragweed and milkweed with a few empty spots that are almost barren, with just bare clay which sometimes holds standing water and other times is baked into a cracked, hard surface. In one of those empty spots, I followed this wasp, which is Cerceris fumipennis, an apoid wasp (Apoidea) in the family Crabronidae. It landed and disappeared into this little hole in the ground. I figured it would eventually come out again so I got down and waited. I was rewarded for my patience when he appeared at the entrance and was able to get a half dozen shots off before he flew off into the distance.

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Lady Beetle Larva

Lady Beetle Larva

Lady Beetle Larva

It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot afternoon today and I went out into the woods next to my building. As I walked through the underbrush under the sycamore, tulip poplar, redbud, walnut, and black cherry trees, I noticed this little creature on a leaf. This is the larva of a lady beetle. The family Coccinellidae, the lady beetles, has about 6,000 species in 360 genera worldwide and nearly 500 in eastern North America. I have no idea to which of those this larva belongs and I’m not even going to try to figure it out. The adults are generally easier to narrow down but to me, anyway, the larva are just too much alike. I found a key to the larva of North American lady beetles but it starts out as follows. Tell me how helpful this is to you:

Mandible with digitiform teeth, retinaculum absent; terga with scoli, sometimes with parascoli; frontoclypeal suture complete; antenna long, 3 or more times as long as wide, of nearly uniform diameter.

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Bumblebee on Coneflower

Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) on Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) on Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

I didn’t get out of the office today to go take pictures. Most of the day it was raining and then I just didn’t have time in the afternoon. I was a little busy but actually more frustrated than anything else, so going out would have been nice. Nevertheless, when I got home I took some pictures of a common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) on one of the purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) outside our dining room window. I like bumble bees and they are out in pretty good numbers right now. In prior years it seemed that they were outnumbered by carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica). This year I’m seeing a lot more bumblebees. That’s just anecdotal evidence, of course but that’s the way it seems to me.

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Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)

It was a slightly less warm but every bit as humid day today. I went to eat my lunch in the empty lot next to my building, sitting on the edge of a now-dry drainage pond. This pond rarely has more than a few inches of water in it but the water is gone and the mud has cracked and is only damp. I had expected to see more insects there but I suppose it’s dry enough that even they have moved to somewhere with a bit more water. I took some pictures of the flowers of some softstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) and this Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) came and landed right in front of me. I was able to get four quick shots before it flew away. In this, the last of the four, its wings are just starting to open.

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Addy

Addy

Addy

It’s funny to me how differently people, especially kids, react to having their picture taken. Some duck for cover, some turn their faces away, and some practically beg for more. This little sweetheart is one of the beg-for-more types. Her siblings all like having their pictures taken, too, but this one more than the others put together, I think. Anyway, she’s a very sweet girl and I’m happy to take her picture any chance I get.

I took quite a few pictures of her and her sister and brothers, as well as the other children who were there today. In many of them Addy is making faces and I considered posting one of those. Actually, I suspect she will be disappointed that I haven’t posted one of them. But I love this one that shows her how she normally looks (although from a fairly close vantage point). I’ll share the others with her parents so she’ll be able to see them. Hopefully that will make her happy.

Thanks to Andy and Kelly for having us over with a few other friends this morning. It was a nice way to celebrate the original Brexit (circa 1776). Also, I took a couple pictures of the baby robins but they didn’t turn out too well. Not as well as Kelly’s taken with her phone, in fact.

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Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

It was a fairly quiet day at work, with a lot of people off for a four day weekend. I went into the woods next to my building, across the streem and up to the higher and more open area, filled mostly with ragweed and milkweed. There were a few butterflies and I tried to get some pictures of them. Then I saw this female eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) and I slowly move it to get a good picture. She would fly away but then would come back to the same perch, so I would move a little closer each time until I was able to get this one.

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Leaf Beetle (Family Chrysomelidae)

Leaf Beetle (Chrysomelidae)

Leaf Beetle (Chrysomelidae)

I was out taking pictures in the yard again this afternoon and happened to look at the same flower on which I took the picture of the Scudderia nymph two days ago (see: Friday, June 30, 2017 ). The outer ray florets, the ‘petals’ of the coneflower, were all tattered and eaten into. The culprit was this little beetle (well, a bunch of them, actually). It is a leaf beetle (family Chrysomelidae), probably in the subfamily Eumolpinae. If I get a more definitive identification, I’ll update this post. It’s a little beetle, less than 5mm long so I wasn’t able to get a close as necessary to really get a good picture, but this one turned out well enough to use.

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Water Droplet on Spruce Twig

Water Droplet on Spruce Twig

Water Droplet on Spruce Twig

Summer is definitely here and we’ve had a few really hot, really muggy days lately. Today was no exception but in the mid afternoon a thunderstorm rolled through and dropped a fair bit of rain in about a half hour. The wind was blowing and it was beautiful. I sat under cover of the back of the house and watched it, getting a little damp, but really enjoying the show. As the rain slowed and water dripped from the trees, I went out with my camera and took a couple dozen pictures, including this one of a drop of water, gathering on the end of a twig. A second after I took this, it fell and a new droplet began to form.

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Scudderia Nymph

Scudderia Nymph

Scudderia Nymph

I went out to take some pictures of flowers this afternoon and that’s what I did at first. Well, first I got a few pictures of a rabbit (an eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus). Then I took a few flower pictures but I noticed this little fellow on a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It is the nymph of a Scudderia, a genus of eight species in our area comprising the bush katydids. This is just a small portion of the larger group of all katydids, of which there are nearly 250 species in 49 genera in eastern North America. Anyway, I think this is a cute little guy and I took quite a few pictures. Enjoy.

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