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Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Whenever I see bees buzzing around flowers, I keep an eye out for hummingbird moths. For some unknown reason, I have seen more of these colorful moths this summer than in past years.

Although you could argue about whether or not thistles are flowers, my vigilance was rewarded when I spotted this beautiful Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) feeding on this thistle bloom on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A clump of what I think is Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnataseemed irresistible to a trio of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria cybele) on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. For a brief moment they coexisted peacefully, until one of them encroached into the territory of another and they all began to jostle each other for the prime spots.

I quickly snapped off a series of photos before the butterflies flew away. As is the case with almost any group, it was almost impossible to capture an image in which all of the subjects were more or less facing the camera and had interesting poses. It was roughly equivalent to trying to photograph a group of wiggly little children—single subjects seem easy by comparison.

Great Spangled Fritillary

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I tend to associate Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) with milkweed, this Monarch was hungrily feeding on Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park. I am not sure why, but I have seen significantly more Monarch butterflies this summer than in the past few years.

Monarch butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Several years ago, when I first started getting serious about photography, I probably would have called the insect in the photo a bee. My choices back then were simple—a black and yellow insect was either a bee or a yellowjacket. Now that I know a whole lot more about insects, I can readily identify the insect as a hoverfly (also referred to as flower fly) from the Syrphidae family.

When I spotted the hoverfly yesterday, I was struck by the way that its colors matched almost perfect those of the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) that were growing in abundance at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

hover fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How much pollen can a bee transport at one time? As it circled the inside of a sunflower, this bee filled the pollen baskets on its hind legs with so much bright yellow pollen that I was afraid it would not be able to lift off and fly away. In addition to the very full pollen baskets, which looked like cotton candy to me, the bee was virtually covered with grains of pollen. My fears proved to be unfounded, and the overladen bee was able to carry away its golden treasure.

I think this bee is a bumblebee, though I am no expert on the subject of bees. According to Wikipedia, certain species of bees, including bumblebees and honeybees, have pollen baskets (also known as corbiculae) that are used to harvest pollen. Other bee species have scopae (Latin for “brooms”), which are usually just a mass of hair on the hind legs that are used to transport pollen.

bee pollen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When you are confronted with a field of sunflowers, what’s the best way to photograph them? That was my challenge this past weekend at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland. Before I arrived, I though I would get a wide-angle view, filled with the bright yellows of the tall sunflowers. The reality was a little underwhelming, because the sunflowers had not grown very tall this year and many of them were past their prime.

So instead of going wide, I decided to move in closer and try to capture some of the details of the sunflowers. Here are a few images of single sunflowers in different stages of development. Some of the images are a little abstract and hopefully challenge readers to think beyond the normal shapes and colors that they associate with sunflowers.

 

sunflower

sunflower

sunflower

sunflower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are now in bloom at Huntley Meadows Park. In addition to being beautiful, these vivid red flowers attract butterflies, like this Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus) that I spotted this past weekend at the park.

Spicebush Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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