Saturday, August 28, 2010

Insect Drama and Beauty

When I came upon this scene, what caught my eye was the bug in a strange position. I bent down to take a photo so that I could identify the bug, and then I noticed that it was dead. A crab spider had caught it by the neck and was slowly sucking out its insides. This crab spider was very well concealed. It had positioned itself just under the fold of the milkweed leaf, so that it was difficult to see from above or under the leaf, but it could easily grab an unsuspecting insect.

On a nearby plant, two Small Milkweed Bugs were back-to-back, presumably mating.

Generally when I see red meadowhawks, they turn out to be Autumn Meadowhawks when I check the identification books. In this case, it could be one of three species present in New Jersey: Ruby Meadowhawk, White-faced Meadowhawk, or "Eastern" Cherry-faced Meadowhawk. According to the New Jersey Odonate Survey, these three species cannot be separated in the field in the state because of variability in appearance.

It sounds weird to describe a damselfly as easier to identify than a dragonfly, but in the case of these two individuals, it is true. This is a Slender Spreadwing, recognizable partly by the dark gray segments at the end of the abdomen.

It can be difficult to watch Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies through binoculars, let alone photograph one. Yesterday I was lucky enough to photograph two together as they gathered nutrients from mud.

I was also lucky enough to photograph an individual with its wings open; I rarely get the chance to see the upperside of this species's wings. I like the very faint hint of blue along the leading edge of the forewings.

Finally, here are two Pearl Crescents to go along with the two blues.