BugShot 2012: Wolf Spiders

September 26th, 2012 - 9:55 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

I enjoyed BugShot 2012, but didn’t take as much advantage of the setting as I’d hoped. By the time I got to Archbold Biological Station, I was coming down with what turned out to be an upper respiratory infection that would last for several weeks. At the end of each day I mostly just wanted to sleep. Not wanting to totally waste the opportunity, I did venture out for several hours on the final night.

Wolf spiders were everywhere and were easily found by the reflections of their eyes from my headlamp. This lighter colored one was my favorite.

Wolf Spider | August 25, 2012 | Archbold Biological Station, Venus, Fl, USA

That initial shot was more for documentation purposes to aid in potential identification later. With that out of the way,  I decided to get closer…

A closer view

and lower.

Side view

Having been stationary for awhile, my headlamp started attracting insects. The wolf spider capitalized on the situation, yielding my favorite shot.

A wolf spider with prey attracted by the photographer’s headlamp.

To get these shots I ended up chasing it around quite a bit. Each time, I’d try to carefully remove as much debris as possible from around it for a cleaner background. I got rid of the bigger bits, but there was still lots of smaller stuff left. I suppose controlling that sort of thing is one advantage of studio shots.

I ended up with a few decent shots and lots of sand all over myself and my equipment.

There were also some darker colored wolf spiders that really stood out against the white sand. When viewed amid the dry vegetation, however, they were difficult to spot.

Wolf spider camouflaged in grass

This particular spider captured my attention in a way I hadn’t expected. When you’re shining for spiders using a headlamp, you usually see just a few reflections from their large forward facing eyes. When my lamp light shone on this one, however, I thought I’d found a walking jewel. Light reflected from all the eyes of the babies she carried on her back, as if from a multifaceted gemstone!

Lichen Moth Caterpillar

February 20th, 2012 - 8:09 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

10mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This cryptically colored little caterpillar reminds me of lichen moth larvae I’ve seen closer to home (Family Arctiidae, subfamily Lithosiinae). If so, it’s in the right place!

Scale Insects

February 14th, 2012 - 5:55 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

5mm long | July 8, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I probably wouldn’t have noticed these scale insects were it not for the ants that would occasionally stop to feed from them.

Its difficult to see in the first photo, but each one has 20 or so waxy threads spiraling away from the body. It’s not clear to me where exactly they’re coming from. The threads are a bit easier to see in the next few photos.

Waxy corkscrew shaped filaments radiate out from the body

I wonder if the spirals don’t help the ants to locate the scale.

The scales excrete honeydew from a small orange tube (to the left above, right below).

Side view

Here’s what might be an immature form of these scale insects. The tube where honeydew is excreted is easier to spot here.

Immature scale? | ~2mm

And finally, here’s an ant soliciting honeydew from that same small scale.

Ant (~4mm) soliciting honeydew

I’ll separately post more photos of the ants.

Leaf-mining Leaf Beetle

January 28th, 2012 - 10:57 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

8mm long | July 12, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This attractive little beetle was resting when I found it. Looking at it here, it almost appears to be nature’s idea of a gaudy holiday light display. Just imagine each of those elytral punctures as a tiny LED, and then imagine them programmed so that the dorsal patterns shift down the eltytra, one puncture at a time. Jokes aside, it actually blends in pretty well with the browning foliage.

This is a leaf-mining leaf beetle, so called because the larvae feed between the surfaces of leaves, creating mines. Adults feed on foliage, and it may be responsible for some of the leaf damage visible here, though I didn’t actually see it eating.

Frontal view

The larvae are flattened, making it easier to move within their mines. Adults seem to share this trait.

Dorsolateral view

Crypsis Challenge #15 Reveal: Moth

November 2nd, 2011 - 9:19 PM | Filed under Uncategorized | No comments

Did you find the hidden moth in the last crypsis challenge? If not, here’s where it was hidden.

Moth, Hidden

Moth, Revealed

In natural light it blended in quite well. With a flash though, it really pops out.

40mm wingspan

I thought the eyespot was interesting and I managed to get a closeup before the moth took off.

Eyespot Closeup

I expected this would be an easy challenge. All commenters correctly mentioned the moth. Good job, everyone!

Crypsis Challenge #15

October 23rd, 2011 - 9:33 AM | Filed under Crypsis Challenges | 6 Comments

July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Can you spot the critter hidden on the side of this tree? This is a natural light photo and under the forest canopy it really was dark as shown here.

Crypsis Challenge #14 Reveal: Bark Mantis

October 1st, 2011 - 9:07 AM | Filed under Crypsis Challenges | 2 Comments

Did you rise to the latest crypsis challenge and spot the bark mantis in the photo? If not, take another look with the help of my crude outlining skills.

July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Mantis Position Revealed

This bark mantis was the first thing I photographed on my first visit to Victorio Siqueroli Park. It was difficult trying to get some natural light photos that showed off its camouflage. It’s head down in the shot above, but it moved around during the shoot and ended up in various positions. Here’s some more shots with the aid of flash.

Can you see it now?

How about now?

I think just about everyone could spot something in the photo, they just couldn’t quite make out what it was. Initial guesses included a cricket, a grasshopper, and even a peanut-headed lanternfly. Finally, Ted C. MacRae and Zi-Wei Yyin both correctly guessed it was something in the order Mantodea.

Here’s some more closeup shots of this interesting critter.

Poised for action

Head closeup

Profile shot

On my last visit to the park I photographed another one of these interesting critters. Look for future photos of that one as well.

Crypsis Challenge #14

September 26th, 2011 - 8:51 PM | Filed under Crypsis Challenges | 12 Comments

July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Can you spot the camouflaged critter in this image?

Camouflaged Planthopper

September 21st, 2011 - 8:57 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

15mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This little planthopper blends in pretty well with the lichen covered bark I found it on.

Side view

Crypsis Challenge #13 Reveal: Jumping Stick

September 7th, 2011 - 6:18 PM | Filed under Crypsis Challenges | 2 Comments

82mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Were you able to find the critter in the photo above? It’s in the lower right corner. Some of you may recognize this as another stick grasshopper in the family Proscopiidae, previously featured in Crypsis Challenge #3. They are so cryptic that I couldn’t resist doing another challenge with this one. Here’s an outline of the grasshopper if you’re still not seeing it.

Grasshopper revealed

Check out how closely the color and texture of the insect matches that of the surrounding vegetation.

Can you distinguish animal from plant here?

Here’s another image where it’s blending in fairly well.

Another cryptic scene

And here, I intentionally placed it on a nearby rock so its features would stand out.

Jumping stick, looking more like the grasshopper it is

They have such interesting faces that I couldn’t resist a profile shot. It actually looks a bit sinister here.

Profile shot

Most of those that commented found the critter. A few even guessed the identity correctly, but even the incorrect guesses were plausible. Good job, everyone.