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Red Milkweed Beetle

Two years ago in a posting, I confessed to being obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus). Inexorably I kept finding myself being drawn back to these bright red beetles.

I thought I had outgrown my obsession, until I encountered several of my little red friend this past weekend at Green Spring Gardens. I immediately reverted to my old behavior and began to stalk them like a paparazzo, trying to get a good shot or any shot at all.

My obsession continues.

Red Milkweed BeetleRed Milkweed BeetleRed Milkweed Beetle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

Three bees

Whenever I have my macro lens on my camera I seem to be irresistibly drawn to bees, like bees to honey. No matter what else I am shooting during the summer, I always seem to have some images of bees interspersed among my other photos. Here are some of my recent favorite bee shots.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Photographing any dragonfly in flight is a real challenge, but this past weekend I spent time chasing after some of the smallest ones, the Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera). According to Bugguide, these dragonflies are typically 21-24mm in length, which is less than one inch, with a wingspan of maybe two inches or so.

amb2_fly_blog

There were lots of male Eastern Amberwings buzzing around the edges of a small pond at Green Spring Gardens, one of the local gardens that I like to visit. They were within range of the 180mm macro lens that I was using, but focusing and tracking were my biggest problems. The dragonflies did tend to hover a bit, which helped a little, but it was tough to get them in focus when focusing manually and almost impossible to do so with auto-focus.

I took a lot of shots and was happy that I managed to get some in decent focus, though I did have to crop the images. As I was preparing this posting, I noticed that I spent some time a year ago attempting to photograph the same dragonfly species. I think the results this year are marginally better, but you can make your own call by clicking on this link to the posting from July 2013.

amb4_fly_blogamb5_fly_blog amb3_fly_blog

amb1_fly_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

A dragonfly perching on a heron? In real life it’s highly unlikely that you would see such a thing, but a male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) decided that the metal silhouette of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in a pond at Green Spring Gardens made a good spot to rest.

Click on any of the tiled images to see all of them full-sized in slide show mode.

Blue Dasher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

Skipper on a leaf

Small skipper butterflies don’t stand out as much as their larger, more colorful brethren, but they have an understated beauty that I find striking. It’s a daunting challenge, however, to identify them.

According to Wikipedia, there are more than 3500 recognized species of skippers worldwide, so I don’t feel too bad that my identification skills are weak in this area. As I looked through images on-line, I came across one identified as a Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna) that looks a bit like the one that I photographed, though my confidence level in this identification is pretty low.

I am confident, however, that I like the image I captured of the little skipper. There is a pretty good amount of detail, the background is blurred, and the leaves on which the butterfly is perched makes for an interesting pose.

UPDATE: A butterfly expert has definitively identified this as a female Sachem (Atalopedes campestris). Thanks to Joe Schelling and Jim Brock for their assistance in identifying this little skipper.

skipper1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Summer lovin’

In the shade of the flowering lotus plants, these two Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) found a few moments for some summer lovin’. Summer lovin’, it happened so fast.

Eastern Pondhawks mating

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Lotus bud

Even before they have bloomed, the buds of the Lotus flower (Nelumbo nucifera) can be spectacularly beautiful, like this one I photographed this past Monday at Green Spring Gardens, just a few miles from where I live in Northern Virginia.

lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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