There is perhaps nothing more ordinary than this, a simple Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) on a small white flower (which is possibly a weed), but the ordinary can be extraordinarily beautiful.

Cabbage White butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Six-spotted Fishing Spider

One of my fellow photographers, Walter Sanford, pointed at the water and exclaimed, “Spider!” A spider in the water? Yes, fishing spiders don’t make a web and instead hunt by sensing the vibrations on the surface of the water.

There are numerous species of fishing spiders, but I think this may be a Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton). Yes, I realize there are more than six white spots on its back—apparently the name refers to six dark spots on the underside of the spider, a part of the spider that I have never seen.

Six-spotted Fishing Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


Young green darner

As I was walking through a meadow at my local marsh this past Monday, dragonflies would take off from the high grass and low vegetation as I approached. Most of them appeared to be Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia), a species that seems to like to perch on the ground.

One of the dragonflies, however, really caught my eye, because it was larger than the rest and was a pastel green in color. At first, I thought it might be a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), one of the few green dragonflies that I have encountered. The green dragonfly flew weakly away and came to rest on some low vegetation a short distance away. As I drew closer, I noted that the dragonfly was hanging from the vegetation and was not perching on it, so I knew it was not an Eastern Pondhawk, which perches horizontally.

When I got a clear look at the dragonfly’s body, I could see that it was shaped like a darner, and I concluded the beautifully-colored dragonfly was probably a young Common Green Darner (Anax junius), judging from its shape and pale coloration. I hadn’t really considered the possibility that this might be a Green Darner, because dragonflies of this species are really strong fliers and I had never seen one behave like this.

I’m going out shooting later today, searching for more beautiful butterflies and dragonflies, enjoying the good news that they are still here with us.

Common Green DarnerCommon Green Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Clouded Sulphur

Strange as it seems, I have been seeing more butterflies in the waning days of summer than I did at its height. I think that this little beauty, which I spotted on Monday at my local marshland park, is a Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice).

Clouded Sulphur

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Smeared Dagger caterpillar

I love to photograph insects with cool or unusual names, like this caterpillar known as the Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita). Who makes up these crazy names? Freddy Krueger? Jason? Someone obviously had been been watching too many slasher or horror films.

The first time that I photographed this caterpillar, I called it the Pittsburgh Steelers caterpillar, because its colors matched those of the Steelers’ uniforms. I even proposed that the Steelers adopt the caterpillar as a mascot, but the idea didn’t catch on—a fuzzy caterpillar probably doesn’t match the Steelers macho image anyways.

Now that I have captured the Smeared Dagger, I’m searching for one of my previous subjects, the Twice-stabbed Stink Bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana). Yes, that’s a real insect. You can’t just make this stuff up, or maybe you can.

Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

I ran into a painted lady yesterday in a meadow at my local marshland park. No, I did not have a secret rendezvous with a tattooed female, but a chance encounter with this beauty, a Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui).

Painted Lady

The weather is getting cooler and the days are getting shorter, but as long as butterflies are still flying, it feels like summer to me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Changing light

As this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) moved about on a flower, the light hit it in different ways, beautifully illuminating its colorful wings.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.



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