Sometimes when I’m hiking I like to stop, at seemingly random places, and look closely at my surroundings. I might spend 5 or 10 minutes just trying to discover the little things that most people walk right by completely unaware. If you’ve never done this before I highly recommend it. Almost anywhere you go you will be amazed at some of the small wonders that present themselves if you just slow down and take a little time to become acquainted with your surroundings.
This Goldenrod Crab Spider was one such secret, hiding right in front of my eyes. I stepped off the hiking trail into a small meadow just to see what might be there. I looked around a bit and was about to move along when I noticed this spider sitting motionless, the embodiment of patience and stillness. Goldenrod Crab Spiders will sit for long periods of time, waiting for an unsuspecting insect to come within reach. You can frequently find them inside blooms using the flower as natural bait.
This damselfly was patrolling a small, sunny patch of ivy when I encountered it in late August, near Richmond, VA. It seems like a common species but I haven’t been able to identify it.
This family of aphids watches helplessly as one of their clan is ruthlessly devoured by their arch enemy, the ladybird beetle (aka ladybug). When you look at a ladybug it’s easy to forget they are savage predators.
Here’s another wasp I’m not quite sure I correctly identified. I believe it is a Spider Wasp. Regardless, it was one of the pollinators that shared their meadow with me in early September. Like other wasps and bees I’ve photographed, this one didn’t seem to pay any attention to my presence. Perhaps because I was sitting still and it approached me rather than the other way around.
From what I’ve read Spider Wasps can be aggressive and have quite a painful sting. I guess it’s a good thing it didn’t mind me being there.
During a photo outing to shoot wildflowers I decided to take a few backlit shots. In the process I began tracking a few Eastern Carpenter Bees as they passed by. I was lucky enough to capture this one as it prepared to land on a thin-leaved sunflower.
I like the way backlit flowers almost glow but that’s pretty easy to predict, setup and shoot. After all, except for the wind, the flowers aren’t really moving. I was really pleased with the lighting of the bee in this photo.
Like most of the photos on my blog, you can click the image to open a larger version of the photo. Check out all the pollen covering this bee. This clearly wasn’t its first flower of the day.
This Ailanthus Webworm Moth was making its way among wildflowers when I saw it in early September.
The Eastern Carpenter Bee is easily confused with the American Bumble Bee. While the bumble bee is covered covered in fuzzy hair, the carpenter bee is missing the fuzz from its abdomen.
At first I thought the beetle on this thin-leaved sunflower was a soldier beetle but something didn’t look quite right. Looking more closely I’ve identified it as a Pennsylvania Leatherwing Beetle. According to insectidentification.org, the Pennsylvania Leatherwing Beetle is highly beneficial in their predation of aphids. As a bonus, their quest for insect prey turns them into efficient pollinators.
I had a little trouble identifying this species of wasp but I believe it is a paper wasp. In my experience they are not aggressive unless you disturb their nests. In this case I was photographing wildflowers when the wasp approached to gather nectar. I sat still, watched and photographed it and the wasp didn’t even seem to notice me.
Last Saturday morning I walked through an open field covered in wildflowers. I always like diving into areas like that and discovering all the little things you would miss if you didn’t actually look for them. On this particular morning I found the butterflies, bees, wasps, and dragonflies had their run of the meadow. This little skipper was feeding on the nectar of thin-leaved sunflowers which dominated the field.