Anomala orientalis (Oriental Beetle)
I was trying to photograph a particularly small bee this afternoon and not having a lot of success. First, it was only about 5mm long. Second, it kept hiding behind bits of the flower it was on. Third, it kept turning so all I could get was pictures head-on.
Anyway, I happened to notice this little beetle (about 10mm long) on a leaf and decided it would be an easier subject. It is an oriental beetle, Anomala orientalis, and is considered to be a pest. The larvae feed on grass roots, so they aren’t something you want to encourage. I do think the –winged— antennae are cool. The scientific term for that form is flabellate, meaning fan-shaped.
I happened to be in Bethesda this evening and ran some errands before finding a place to get a quick dinner. There are lots of choices in terms of eating establishments but most of them would probably have taken longer than I had time for. Nando’s Peri Peri looked like it was just what I wanted. It’s name is a misspelling (I assume intentional for trademark purposes) of piri piri, the Portuguese hot sauce made with African bird’s eye chilis (Capsicum frutescens) and often containing some or all of the following: citrus peel, onion, garlic, coriander leaves (cilantro), salt, pepper, lemon or lime juice, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.
I found the decor of the place interesting and I took a few photographs with my camera sitting on top of my camera bag to hold it steady in the dim light of evening (and it was raining outside). This column in the middle of the restaurant is covered with beautiful, brightly colored tiles. It turns out, though, that they are not ceramic, as I first thought. They are made of colored leather. I also liked the assortment of incandescent light bulbs. Somehow, compact fluorescent lamps wouldn’t have given the same feel. I wonder where you have to go to get those. They’ll probably be a black market item, soon.
The chicken was delicious, by the way. I got it “hot,” which I recommend.
As followers of this blog know, I had surgery in May and then again on June 12, just under three weeks ago. I was back in to have the staples removed last week and went in again today for what we all hope will be my last visit. I’m recovering nicely, although I’m still supposed to take it easy.
I don’t like telling people that I hope never to see them again, but when the reason you see them is that you need or are recovering from surgery, that’s a little different. Viki, the nurse at this particular doctor’s office, is very nice and cheerful and was gracious enough to let me take a couple pictures of her, after I told her why I carry my camera everywhere. Thanks, Viki, for making a bad time more pleasant.
Cathy and Dorothy
It was about 10:30 this evening and I hadn’t taken any pictures today. I asked the girls if I could take there picture and I took about a dozen. This one turned out quite well, I think. Others had one or both of them making silly faces, and while they are funny, it’s easy to get tired of silly faces and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of their ordinary smiles.
I love you both, girls.
Golden Three-spot Gourami (Trichopodus trichopterus)
In addition to the pictures I took of Cathy and Dorothy (see prior post), I took a few pictures of our fish. We recently acquired a few new fish from one of Dorothy’s friends, whose family is moving to Colorado. This is a golden gourami, which is one of the common color morphs of the three-spot gourami, Trichopodus trichopterus, native to southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia. This is a pretty good size specimen and has adapted well to our tank, along with a large angel fish, some neon tetras, and a pretty good sized plecostomus.
We decided to walk with Albert and Brady to see the Rockville fireworks this year. As it turns out, we stopped walking a bit sooner that we probably should. Ralph and Tsai-Hong went on and saw them much more closely than we did, although we got a reasonable view. We were a bit surprised at the brevity fo the show. Well, it turns out that it was due to a technical fault. The City of Rockville put out the following notice:
Due to technical difficulties, the annual Rockville Independence Day fireworks show was shorter than anticipated.
The show, planned to be about 20 minutes, experienced technical difficulties about six minutes after it started.
Unable to diagnose the problem, the fireworks technician made the decision to move directly to the show’s three minute finale, which was unaffected.
Thank you to everyone who attended. We will be working with our fireworks vendor to do everything possible to avoid this from occurring in the future.
Still, considering how little effort we went to, the show was fine and we were with family and good friends. You really cannot ask for much more than that.
I found a great patch of wild raspberries today and enjoyed about a pint of them before moving on. It’s all I had for lunch today, but it was a pretty sweet lunch. I think I’ll come back with a container and collect more in the next couple of days.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t mention where this patch happens to be located. There are a lot of berries but not enough, I’m sorry to say, to share with too many others. I’ll be watching to see if I’m followed.
While I was out picking raspberries I saw a spider web with an orchard orbweaver spider (Leucauge venusta). I took a few pictures but it was too dim and I didn’t have my tripod so I wasn’t able to get enough depth of field to make the image worth sharing. I also saw this little fellow (or lady, I really don’t know). The leaf it was on was moving in the slight breeze and of course there’s that “hand-held” thing, so most of the pictures were out of focus or blurred. This one, I think, is pretty good. Fortunately it was in a small ray of sunshine giving me enough light for a reasonably short exposure. It is one of the flies in the genus Condylostylus but many of them look quite similar, so I don’t know which one.
Bumble Bee on Coneflower
Three days out of four with more than one photo posted. Don’t you feel privileged? Okay, perhaps not. In any case, here is a third picture for today. In addition to going out for a late lunch of raspberries and photographing a tiny fly, I went into the back yard when I got home and photographed bumble bees. They are going crazy on the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) and the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I’m pretty happy with this picture, although I think a smaller aperture would be better. The depth of field is just short of what I would like. This was taken with the ISO set to 800 with an exposure of 1/125 sec. at f/5.7.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus, female)
With the reliability of summer following spring, the tiger swallowtails have returned just as the buddleia (butterfly bush) started to bloom. There are flowers open on two bushes so far with a promise of many more to come. We’ve had the little cabbage whites for a while now but today was the first day I’ve seen a swallowtail in our yard. This is a female. The males don’t have the band of blue spots on their hind wings. Getting a picture that is “just right” is hard. they move about a bit, but this one, with the wings lit from the other side, is pretty good, although the colors in the wing are a bit washed out.
Eumenes fraternus (Potter Wasps)
This is becoming one of my favorite wasps. I’m not sure why, but it is. I think I like the simplicity, along with the distinctiveness of the markings. It’s also such a fragile little thing. I say little, but it’s not all that tiny, measuring a good 15 to 20 mm in length. I suspect it’s also got a sting that I don’t want to experience.
Now that the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is starting to bloom in earnest, it’s starting to attract the usual suspects. So far, in addition to bumble bees and this potter wasp, I’ve seen a one four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens) and a few great black wasps (Sphex pensylvanicus).
On a somewhat irrelevant note, the Latin name for this genus of wasp always reminds me of the third play in the Oresteia, by Aeschylus, called The Eumenides. The Eumenides are “The Kindly Ones.” That’s irrelevant, however, as the genus in this case is a different, although similar word. They are apparently named for a Greek general and scholar, Eumenes of Cardia (ca. 362 BC—316 BC).
For those who don’t like pictures of the creepy crawlies, here’s a non-insect, non-spider photograph. It’s interesting that people who are given the willies by spiders or most insects often don’t have any problem with butterflies. They are pretty, to be sure, but they are still basically just bugs with big wings.
In any case, this is a picture I took in the evening after dinner. We went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream and then sat watching the fountain. There were no children playing in the fountain, as there so often are, but Cathy and Dorothy at least put their feet in the spray.
This picture is of a spout of water against the darkening evening sky. It’s a photograph that makes me strangely happy.
Dorothy left early this morning for Guatemala early this morning. We dropped her off at Church of Christ at Manor Woods at 2:00 AM and they were off by 2:30, heading to the airport. By the time we were home from church later in the day there was a post on Facebook saying they had arrived safely in Antigua. It’s going to be hard not being able to call and ask her how she is, but we’re looking forward to all the stories she’ll have when she gets home. This is the team, just before the piled into the bus and headed out.
Hemaris diffinis (Snowberry Clearwing)
Cathy and I went to Stadler Nursery after church today. While she shopped for a few things, I browsed with my camera, taking pictures of a few flowers that I liked. At the end of one of the tables was this white buddleia and flying around the flowers sipping their nectar, was a sphinx moth. Of the 124 described species found in America north of Mexico, I believe this is Hemaris diffinis, the snowberry clearwing.
I took quite a few blurry pictures but did get a few that are pretty decent, of which this one is the best. While I was watching, the moth never landed once. Taking a photo of a flying insect is a real challenge and you have to be prepared to end up with a lot more wasted shots than anything else.
In Memoriam — Kevin Snider
February 6, 1952 – July 8, 2013
Our friend, Dave, took two other friends, Jon and James, up in his plane this afternoon. He had to return the plane to Frederick and get his car, so they flew with him, along with his oldest son, Conor. I drove them to the airport where the plane was and took some pictures of them as they took off. I underestimated how much runway this larger plane needs to take off as compared to the smaller planes that take off so very quickly and easily. They got off the ground just before they got to where I was by the runway. The picture taken right before this is a little better in terms of showing the plane. I was trying to keep up with them as they hurtled towards me and I’m afraid that the framing is a bit off. Still, I like this one because you can see James in the cockpit. Another future pilot, perhaps?
I didn’t take a lot of pictures today but did get out into the back garden of some friends. This is a Thelesperma, probably T. filifolium (stiff greenthread) growing there. It is a close relative to Coreopsis. In fact, until recently it was considered to be part of that genus. To be honest (hey, why not), I’m not completely sure this isn’t a Coreopsis, but I think I have it labeled right. Anyway, it is a nice bi-colored hybrid and I like the airiness of the photograph.
The other day I mentioned that I picked and ate some wild raspberries and that I planned to go out to pick more when I had the chance. We’ll, I finally got out again today and picked a nice big tub of them. It was pretty hot out but fortunately I was working mostly in the shade rather in bright sun. Still, I worked for these. I think it was worth the effort, though. Don’t they look good? They aren’t huge but they are very tasty.
Popillia japonica (Japanese Beetle)
This is not a friend of mine. Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) are highly destructive plant pests. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “the Japanese beetle was first found in the United States in 1916 in southern New Jersey. Since then, it has spread throughout most of the country east of the Mississippi River, as well as areas in Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri.”
I have to admit that I find their metallic green exoskeleton to be quite pretty but I equally admit that I rarely take the time to admire them. I’m usually more intent of killing as many of them as possible. Fiends.
Dark Orange Day Lily
It was a beautiful rainy day today, considerably cooler although still fairly muggy. I was sort of busy at work so I didn’t get out. When I got home I took a picture I’ve been meaning to take for a while. I like day lilies in all their forms but I think this is one of my very favorites. I really love the deep orange, which is much more striking then the plain bright orange of the “standard” variety. The droplets of water on the petals are a small bonus.
Lilium ‘Stargazer’ (The Stargazer Lily)
We have day lilies (Hemerocallis), tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium), and a few Asiatic lilies in our yard and they are all beautiful in their way. They are mostly orange, although we have a few yellow day lilies. Although they were formerly considered to be in the same family as lilies, day lilies are not even in the same order any more. Anyway, I group them together in my mind, because they have somewhat similar flowers and of course the names are a link.
This flower, though, stands alone (in our yard, anyway). It is so different in terms of color that it seems less like the other true lilies than do the day lilies. It’s currently growing in a pot but we’ll be planting it when we get a chance. At least that’s the theory. We really need a small patch of these, not just one, but one thing at a time.
It’s been overcast all day after a mostly rainy day yesterday. This evening, however, the light turned the most remarkable color. It’s hard to describe what it was like, but later in the day, as the sun started to set, the light out our back windows was the most orangy green I’ve ever seen. It was green because it’s been a very wet summer so far and everything is so lush. But the light had an orangy, pink tinge to it that was absolutely wonderful over that lush green. I ran to get my camera but much of the light had gone by the time I got outside. This picture is looking nearly straight up with a very wide angle lens, and shows the source of the colored light, reflecting off the clouds. It doesn’t come close to doing it justice, so we’ll just have to remember how beautiful it was, although this photo is a small reminder.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
It was a long but somehow beautiful day to end a long week. We celebrated a life and we welcomed our Daughter home from her first foreign trip without us (a little tired but not too much the worse for wear). I took a few pictures in the yard, including a few of the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) which are coming into their own, blooming profusely.
My camera doesn’t handle white balance very well in a picture like this, with so much bright yellow. I really need to find my neutral grey card so I can take a reading and set the white balance properly. This looks about right, though.
Megachile, Leaf-cutting or Resin Bee
This is one of the leaf-cutting or resin bees in the genus Megachile. There are over 1,500 species world-wide and about 130 in our area. While I could eliminate a few species from consideration, I really have no idea which of them this is. It’s a little but not tiny bee, measuring about 12 to 15mm in length (I didn’t actually measure it with a ruler or anything).
This is one of a growing number of bees and wasps that is now enjoying the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum).
Ammophila nigricans (Thread-waisted Wasp)
I saw this chap on the gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) but at first is wouldn’t come close. I stood for a while without taking any pictures and eventually it came near. I managed to take quite a few pictures but most of them either aren’t in focus or don’t show enough of the wasp to identify it. This is an Ammophila nigricans, one of the thread-waisted wasps. It’s a fairly large wasp and, as you can see, is characterized by a long, very narrow “waist” and the brown coloration on its abdomen.
Tiger Swallowtail on Tiger Lily
As I left for work this morning I saw this tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) on a tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium). I didn’t think I could let that opportunity pass without at least trying to get a picture. I took quite a few, starting relatively far away and working in a bit closer as she didn’t fly off. I am pretty happy with a good number of the images.
She kept circling the flower and would occasionally open her wings, but most of the good pictures show her in profile, like this. I did get a couple that are mostly of the butterfly and don’t show the entire flower, but I thought I’d use this one here. A few were closer still and in them you can see the individual scales on the butterfly’s wing.
It’s turned quite hot the last day or three and I was glad to get my photo-taking out of the way in the morning. That way I didn’t have to do it later in the day or even when I got home. My car said it was 101°F at 5:30 PM.
Dark Phase Tiger Swallowtail
At the risk of overdoing one subject, here’s another picture of a tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). As you can see, this looks a bit different to the others I’ve posted lately. There is a dark phase which occurs in females through much of its range.
This little lady was playing hard to get, moving to the top of the buddleia (butterfly bush) and staying on the far side as I circled trying to get a good look at her. This is the best I could do, and it isn’t bad, anyway.
Here’s another black-eyed Susan picture. They sure do well in our yard, and we might need to cut them back a bit after they finish blooming, so that they don’t take over completely. The black-eyed Susan is the state flower of Maryland, by the way and in case you didn’t know. A good choice, I think. There are a couple dozen Rudbeckia species and they are named after Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740) and his father, Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702), both professors of botany at Uppsala University. The name was given by Carolus Linnaeus, who was their student.
Cotinis nitida (Green June Beetle)
I saw a new insect today. Well, not technically a new insect, but one I haven’t photographed before. This is a fairly large beetle, about an inch long. It was up on the buddleia bush and I was able to get a reasonably sharp picture, although not as sharp as I’d like. It’s a little like a giant Japanese beetle, but it’s a green June beetle, Cotinis nitida, a North American native. They are generally considered to be pests, because their larvae eat the roots of many plants including grasses and ornamentals.
I don’t have a lot to say about this picture, my third posted for July 19. We were stopping to see a friend and this was what the sky looked like as we got there. This was taken with a 100mm lens. The sky was mostly dark at this point and there was just this one small area of color, but what color it was! Wonderful.
Halictus parallelus (A Sweat Bee)
I’m pretty pleased with this picture of a leaf-cutting bee. It could be better, to be sure, but I’m pretty psyched with it. The best part, in my view, is what it shows about bees’ eyes. Most people are familiar with the fact that most insects have compound eyes. These compound eyes are called oculi (singular oculus) and are made up of up to 9,000 ommatidia, the individual components of the eyes. What you may not know is that many insects have three additional simple eyes, called ocelli (singular ocellus) on the top of their head, arranged in a triangle. That’s right, they have five eyes, not two.
If you enlarge this image you should be able to see the three “additional” eyes on this leaf-cutting bee’s head. You’ll also get a nice view of the mandibles that she uses to cut pieces of leaf (thus the common name) to use as separators between cells of her nest.
Update: The good folks at BugGuide.net have identified this as Halictus parallelus (A Sweat Bee) (and a male, at that) rather than a Megachile (Leaf-cutting Bee). I have change the title and the caption on the photograph to reflect this.
Mantis religiosa (European or Praying Mantis)
This isn’t a great picture but I was competing with a 10-year old who was trying to get a better view of it while I was trying to get a photograph. Actually, she was trying to “help” me get a clear view and she was moving the leaves around. Of course, the mantis didn’t stay in one place very long and I was lucky to get two pictures, both reasonably sharp. This is a small mantis, about two inches long. Metamorphosis in mantises is called hemimetabolism. The larval stage looks basically like the adult, only smaller (and without wings). As they grow, they shed their exoskeleton a number of times.
Epargyreus clarus (Silver-spotted Skipper)
It’s another insect! Aren’t you excited? This one is a skipper, a silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) to be precise. It’s a fairly large skipper and quite common, although I’ve only seen a half dozen or so of them so far. We have dozens upon dozens of smaller grass skippers (subfamily Hesperiinae). It’s a busy time in the garden right now. This skipper is on the buddleia, as you can clearly see.
I went to the eye doctor today. All seems well and I did very well on the peripheral vision test. He said he doesn’t see a lot of perfect scores but I got one with one eye and only missed one dot with the other, so that’s good news. He’s following two issues but said that neither is causing any problem and I don’t need to come more than once a year. While I was waiting, though I took this picture of the phoropter, although he didn’t actually use it this visit. My eye sight hasn’t really changed since I got my glasses.
Chlosyne nycteis (Silvery Checkerspot)
This is a cute little butterfly that’s appeared in our garden the last few days. It is a silvery checkerspot, Chlosyne nycteis, one of a genus of 20 to 25 species. It’s a smallish thing, between 1.5 and 2 inches across and seems quite fond of the black-eyed Susans, although they are on the mountain mint, as well, with about a jillion bees and wasps. The mountain mint has really come into full bee-attracting mode. There must be hundreds on that one small patch at any given time, especially in the heat of the day when the sun is shining on it.
I was a few days behind in posting pictures here because I was at the beach, enjoying myself and not thinking too much about responsibilities. While I was in that mode, my server crashed. That actually happened sometime on August 1 or 2. Then, we returned from the beach and left about 36 hours later for two weeks in England. The server was down all that time. I have it mostly back up and running and will begin posting pictures from the missing days.
Rest assured that there are pictures for every day, although, as usual, I don’t promise that they are any good.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
This isn’t exactly the breakfast of champions. Nor is it the most spectacular picture for reintroducing my blog after a month. It is, however, one of only a handful of photographs that I took on July 25. The others have a bit more color in them but aren’t much more interesting. I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to keep your interest. Don’t worry, though, because I have some travel pictures coming soon.
Sphex pensylvanicus (Great Black Wasp)
As it gets hotter and hotter, the bees seem to get thicker and thicker on the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). The great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus is a bit hard to photograph well. In general, it’s easier to photograph something with a bit of contrast in it but the great black wasp is pretty much a uniform black. It’s also not an insect that you can take a lot of time with. It’s constantly on the move. For a huge, dangerous looking wasp, it also seems to be relatively shy and doesn’t like to be approached. Still, I’m reasonably pleased with this shot.
Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina
Our summer was mostly only busy for Dorothy up through this weekend. Cathy and I continued to work. On July 27, though, we began three weeks of vacation, which is something I’ve been looking forward to for a few months. We started with a week at the beach. The beach, for us, generally means Ocean Isle Beach in southern North Carolina. On the day we arrived it was cloudy but very pleasant out. We went for a short walk on the beach just before sunset and I took a couple pictures of the ocean. This one is nice because it has a few birds in it — Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) and a Willet (Tringa semipalmata).
Sunrise, Ocean Isle Beach
One issue that I typically have at the beach is that the house is kept pretty cool and outside it is both warm and very humid. That means that when I go out, especially first thing in the morning, my camera fogs up and I have to wait a while before I can take any pictures. We switched houses for this year and the new house has a room that is not air conditioned. In the spring or fall that room is probably very comfortable but in late July and August it is quite warm. But it means I could leave my camera there and when I went outside with it, the lens didn’t fog up.
Anyway, I went out this morning, long after the sun was actually up, but the picture is still sort of sunrise-like. The beginning of a pretty day.
One evening when we’re at the beach we all go to dinner at Dockside, a seafood restaurant in Calabash, almost into South Carolina. Because with a part of more than 20 people we generally have a pretty significant wait to get in, we all walk around on the nearby dock. This picture is of the reflection of a fishing boat.
Lilium catesbaei (Pine Lily)
For the last few years we’ve been making a trek to the Green Swamp when we’ve come to the beach. In the past it’s been very hot, usually in the upper 90s and very humid. This year was a bit different. It was still very humid but the temperature was somewhere in the mid 80s. Still hot and sticky but not nearly so oppressive. On the other hand, the mosquitoes were much worse this year than in the past.
One flower we haven’t seen on prior visits is the pine lily, Lilium catesbaei. There were a few of them out, mostly finishing up their blooming period. This one still looked quite nice, though. They are very striking in a place where green is such a dominant color.
Bonus points for the spider in the picture. I didn’t see him when I took it.
Dionaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap)
Here’s a second picture from July 30, again from the Green Swamp in southern North Carolina. The first year we visited we saw a lot of Venus flytraps. The second year it was very dry and we didn’t see any at all. Last year and this they were back in large numbers and we stopped to get a few new pictures. They are a bit hard to photograph, partly because they are so small.
Here you can see a few open “traps” as well as one that has closed, presumably on some prey.
Nephila clavipes (Golden Silk Orbweaver)
This is the third of three pictures I’m posting for July 30. If you don’t like spiders, you may not want to click on this image. This is probably the biggest spider I’ve seen outside of captivity. It isn’t as big as some tarantulas I’ve seen but they were in terraria. The body of the female golden silk orbweaver can be up to nearly two inches long although this one is probably not more than 1.5 inches. With the legs it’s more like six inches. The male, who was on the web nearby, is less than an inch across including his legs and is not nearly as fearsome looking.
In past years we have found sundews on the ground near the banks of a small pond as we enter the Green Swamp. This year the pond had more water and where we had seen them was covered. I was walking through the trees to the shore of the pond when I nearly walked through this spider’s web. She would not have been happy with me if I had not seen her. Then again, I wouldn’t have been all that thrilled to have her climbing on my head and neck. Fortunately I saw a glint of light on the web just before I hit it.
Family Beach Photo
Today’s picture is of the portion of our family that was at the beach this year. We missed having Stephen, Maya, and Iris, who have come in recent years. We also missed Brady, George, and Carmela, although they haven’t been, at least not in a long while. But, we did have Karlee, Dorothy, Henry, Cathy, Albert, Dot, Ralph, and Tsai-Hong. While Karlee isn’t technically in our family, she’s been with us at the beach six of the last eight years and we didn’t go to the beach the other two, either.