11/5/17
Hover Fly

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings: return to Standard Time, Marigold Parades past, the fascinating world of insects… First of all, today marks the return to Standard Time in the US. Although it is not quite so awful now that I am retired, I remember the long winter months of driving home in the dark at 5:00pm. Because daylight hours are already shorter, the long nights seem even longer. Regular readers here know I am a lover of light. So, the fall time change is not something I welcome. People ask why the Winter Solstice is not my least favorite day of the year. That is simple: the next day, the hours of daylight start to increase. But, enough of that…

The Marigold Parade

More Sunday musings: Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade tends to fall on the same day as the change to Standard Time. Now there is more than a bit of brightness. The South Valley has managed, so far, to keep it as its own. While some photographers focus on the wonderfully painted faces, I have always found the cultural statements especially fascinating. To me, the 2012 and 2013 parades were especially vibrant and creative. In contrast, the overall political mood just before the 2016 election dampened, in my opinion, the Marigold Parade. I have not publicly shown any of my images from last year. Here are a few “postcards” from previous Marigold Parades. To see large views, first click on the image. Then, on the new page, click on the dimensions shown, and you will see a detailed image.

Ofrenda (“altar”) at the West Side Community Center. I especially love the Sandia Casino bingo marker!

sunday musings marigold parade

Ofrenda

In the park before the start of the parade:

sunday usings marigold parade

Muertos y Marigolds

Painted Faces and Lowriders

sunday musings marigold parade

Painted Faces and Lowriders

Painted Faces, Low Riders, Ofrendas

sunday musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade Potpourri

I think every New Mexico parade has lowriders – “low and slow for show.” The Marigold Parade certainly features them.

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Ubiquitous Lowriders

Political Statements

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Politics

Kids and Families Are Active Participants

sunday musings and marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Families

I did a series of Kindle ebooks about Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade and Dia de los Muertos obsrvances. These are at Amazon:

The Joys of Macro Photography

Another Sunday musings macro photography is fun. This summer I worked a bit more with macro photography. I have a few images that surprised me. You have already seen the hover fly. Although I did not know what it was at the time, I was pleased with the image from the time I first saw it on the computer. In real life, I could not tell what was going on. For all intents and purposes, it appeared the insect was making love to the flower. I took around 20 images, and this is the only one that clearly shows what was going on. The hover fly was gathering nectar from a tubule of the Mexican Sunflower. It was stabilizing the tubule with its front appendages, and drinking the nectar through its specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Hover Fly

Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

I was very happy late last week when CanonUSA on Twitter tweeted

Canon USA Imaging

@CanonUSAimaging

We’re happy also! We love the detail! This photo has been selected as #CanonFavPic

This image has definitely been added to my portfolio.

Enough musing, time to get to work. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and that we all get through winter and standard time without too much major depression. 😐

10/16/17
Monday Morning

Monday Morning

Monday Morning

Monday morning is not quite as big a deal to me now that I am retired. Flexibility in schedule is the key to that. However, I do have scheduled activities, but I tend to take Sundays “off.” So, in some ways, Monday still rolls around in a slightly different way from other days. I made this for those of you who may feel Monday a little differently also:

Monday Morning

Rough Monday Morning

I photographed the very wet bee on cosmos in the morning after three nights of rain several weeks ago. I’m not sure it could fly until it dried out a bit. It was a rough morning for that little guy. But, all’s well that ends well…

Monday Morning Reminder for Rose Friends

The deadline for entry in the ARS Digital Photography Contest is November 5, now less than three weeks away.

ARS Digital Contest

2017 ARS Digital Contest

Details and rules are at rose.org > member resources > contests.

——————————–

So, here it is, Monday again. Wishing all of you a good one…

10/9/17
Hover Fly

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly update with commentary of Baldo Villegas, who is now retired but former State Entomologist for California. I had written him last week, but was not sure I had the correct email. Yesterday afternoon I received his response. As all of his responses, this one is full of information and also interesting and easy to understand. Baldo helps everyone! Thank you, Baldo!

The insect in the picture is a Syrphid fly, not a wasp but a mimic. These flies belong to the large family of flies called Syrphidae and are known by the common names Hover Flies or Flower Flies. Most have warning coloration resembling that of wasps or bees. In fact there is one species that is commonly called a drone fly as it looks just like a male honey bee. Most syrphid flies are predators of soft bodied insects such as aphids. A few are pests of bulbs and such and others have interesting lifecycles and are rather interesting.

Syrphid flies will visit flowers for nectar and pollen in order to help in egg production. The nectar is for the energy that they consume hovering around aphid infested plants.

Baldo’s tagline in his email is “Love Bugs, Roses and Cats …. even if the cats don’t give a hoot.” 🙂

This gives me a chance to repost the photo:

Hover Fly

Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

10/8/17
Hover Fly

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Pollen wasp is something I had not known about until a few days ago. Yet, pollinators are something we talk about frequently, because of their vital importance to crops and virtually all plants on earth. I, and neighbors, try to include flowers that will attract pollinators. While we tend to think about the beauty of the the flowers, we talk less about the beauty of our pollinating friends. Yet, up close and personal, they can be beautiful and interesting.

pollen wasp hoverfly

(Pollen Wasp): Hoverfly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Regular readers and friends know that I have grown a variety of sunflowers for years. Years ago in Arizona I grew Tithonia rotundiflora (“Mexican sunflower”). It is in the same Family, Asteraceae, as our typical sunflowers. However, the genus is Tithonia rather than Helianthus. When I saw seeds in the grocery store, I thought maybe it would be fun here. So, I decided to try it. It is a fabulous plant for Albuquerque!

pollinators

Tithonia rotundiflora, “Mexican sunflower”

The other day I was out photographing the flowers. I saw a wasp on the tithonia. While I considered it a yellow jacket, its behavior seemed odd for a wasp. It almost seemed to be making love to the flower. So I kept photographing it, hoping I could understand what was going on. When I looked at the images on the computer, I saw what appeared to be a very odd mouth part. As it turns out, it is a very specialized mouth part, a “suctorial proboscis.” (These wasps – this isn’t one) are solitary vegetarians, sucking nectar and pollen from flower tubules.) As it turns out, what I took to be a wasp is, in reality, a hoverfly with also very specialized suctorial proboscis. Example here: hoverfly

The joy of photography: seeing and learning new and different things, without even trying! Last week I did not know what a pollen wasp was. Now I know what it is, and this is not one. It is a hoverfly. Now I know they also have these very specialized suctorial probosci. This week I am glad this one chose to visit my garden and allowed me to photograph it! And thanks to Anita Storino for the updated information.

09/13/17
sex and death

Sexual Cannibalism in the Cosmos

Sexual Cannibalism in the Cosmos

Sexual cannibalism in the cosmos, praying mantis style. You know all the stories you have heard about the female praying mantis biting off the head of her mate? I guess I never gave it too much thought. I had no reason to disbelieve it, but I never expected to witness any part of that ritual. However, I have seen some amazing things in my tiny Albuquerque yard, so I should stop being surprised at what I do see. I frequently go out in the morning to photograph flowers before the sun strikes them. Not too long ago, I found this sexual cannibalism in the cosmos:

sexual cannibalism

Female Praying Mantis with Decapitated Mate

sexual cannibalism

Female Praying Mantis with Decapitated Mate

sexual cannibalism

Female Praying Mantis with Decapitated Mate

sexual cannibalism

She Sees Me

sexual cannibalism

“I’m Taking My Body and Getting Away from that Woman! (Note the falling wing of the male)”

sexual cannibalism

“That’s Better!”

sexual cannibalism

“I’m Going to Eat Now! Go Away, Human Woman! He’s All Mine!”

I went out that morning to photograph flowers. But I learned long ago, that, if you keep your eyes open, you might get the opportunity to see some things most people don’t see often. Sexual cannibaism was about the last thing I was expecting to see or have the opportunity to photograph that morning! But, there it was. She was a voracious praying mantis!

National Geographic has posted a video about the praying mantis, which you might enjoy. It gives a scientific explanation for this behavior, also noting that “a well-fed female mantis is a well-behaved female mantis.”

08/18/17
Bee in Cosmos

Creatures in Albuquerque

Creatures in Albuquerque

Creatures: the desert is full of interesting plants and animals, even in the middle of a city like Albuquerque. I don’t see as many different hawks up in my part of town as Tim Price does down on the Rio Grande bosque (see his blog, very wide ranging but full of wildlife), but the ones I do see are pretty reliable. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks like the NE Heights of Albuquerque, because people put out feeders that attract little birds. The little birds are what the hawks mostly go for. However, I never let my cats out, and the neighbor of a friend found the remains of his Pomeranian on top of the roof, thanks to hawks. During nesting season, people are advised to take umbrellas to the city’s parks, to avoid being dive bombed by the hawks protecting their young.

One morning last week I was out to photograph the sunrise. So, of course, I had a landscape lens on the camera. During the sunrise, I saw something I have never seen before: an adult hawk brought its young, seeking breakfast. They were in a tree really outside the range of my lens, but I photographed them anyway. Not a great pic, but you can make out the adult and the young one against the sunrise.

creatures Adult Cooper's Hawk with Young

Adult Cooper’s Hawk with Young, against a Desert Sunrise

Several days later I was out to photograph the hummingbirds. I had just put on my bird lens and gotten comfortable to try to get a few pics of hummers. This hawk almost immediately, and very briefly, flew in and then left. Some of you may remember the images from a hawk visit on August 13, 2013. I photographed this hawk on August 13 of this year. I have never photographed a hawk from this angle, and I find it very elegant with its spread tail. I think it is a young one for a variety of reasons. I’d like to think it was the young one brought by a parent a few days before. 🙂

Creatures Hawk Seeking Breakfast

Hawk Seeking Breakfast, Landing in a Neighbor’s Tree. Great Camouflage!

It caught breakfast next door, and then zoomed back through my yard, finding its safe spot for enjoying its prey.

Several of my neighbors and I have worked hard to develop yards that are pollinator-friendly. We have very busy bees during the day on sunflowers, cosmos, roses, etc. This is the year that I have discovered that some bees like to snuggle in flowers at bedtime. This little guy kept wiggling his butt until he was well settled into the cosmos. He was still there at dawn, but flew out to start his work as soon as the sun had warmed the flower.

 creatures Bee in Cosmos

Bee in Cosmos

So much beauty here in the desert, full of creatures even in town… Today, I offer just a brief sample of hawk family at sunrise, hawk landing in a tree, and a little bee snuggling in at bedtime. The world is a wondrous place.

09/18/15

Darth Vader Jumping Spider

Darth Vader Jumping Spider

Jumping spider as Darth Vader? Well, that thought certainly crossed my mind when I saw this little spider jumping from leaf to leaf, branch to branch, on a rose bush.

jumping spider

Darth Vader Jumping Spider?

This was the funniest little spider I have seen in my yard in a long time. He first tried to stare me down, which is how I got this particular image. The scientific name for this spider is Phidippus audax, which means “daring” or “bold.” This one certainly was!!!

When I didn’t leave, it scurried under leaves, over leaves, jumped everywhere, looking around periodically to see if I were still there.

This spider could also be dressed for Halloween – black and orange! This was a particularly wonderful creature to run across unexpectedly in the yard!

jumping spider

“OK, I’m Leaving, Lady!”

Jumping Spider

Nice Backside!

While these are common in the United States and in New Mexico, this is the most colorful one I have seen in my yard. It was an unexpected pleasure, along with being a little humorous. Keep an eye out for something similar when you are out in your yard.

09/6/15

Late Summer Insects

Late Summer Insects in Corrales, New Mexico

Late summer insects were certainly abundant yesterday at the Corrales home of friends Tim and Laurie. I met them years ago through the local rose society, and we have become great friends with a wide variety of shared interests. They grow many roses, but they also plant a wide variety of other things aimed at encouraging pollinators and other beneficial insects. Their land was covered with abundant wild sunflowers, and also naturalized with cosmos, brown-eyed Susans, coreopsis, echinacea, black bamboo, and one I found especially fascinating for the variety of insects it attracted, garlic chives. All of these had been intentionally planted at one time, and then allowed to naturalize their land, which was spectacular in its color. I have been there many times, but I had never seen so much in bloom at one time before. The insects seemed quite happy and were buzzing everywhere! This is a small sample.

Bees, many different varieties, were everywhere. This one seemed to beg to be photographed. The plant is garlic chives.

summer insects bee

Bee on Garlic Chives

If you read my other blog, Southwest Desert Gardening, you recently saw a dead one of these, a Western Green June Bug, also called a Figeater Beetle. On that one, it was easy to show the metallic underside, which was quite beautiful. On this image, you can see some of the metallic parts. The plant is cosmos.

summer insects june bug

Western Green June Bug, Figeater Beetle

This is a Narrow Waisted Wasp on Garlic Chives

summer insects wasp

Narrow Waisted Wasp

Although I generally am not a huge fan of the grasshoppers that arrive in late summer, this one seemed to have a beguiling expression, and I also liked the blue legs. Once again, the plant is Garlic Chives.

summer insects grasshopper

Grasshopper

Butterflies will be in a separate post.

I enjoyed the opportunity to photograph these late summer insects not frequently thought of as “beautiful,” but I liked them. 🙂

08/13/14
crab spider

Crab Spiders

Crab Spiders

Crab spiders have been abundant this year. They are quite tiny, but also quite amazing. This year, in my yard, I have been particularly impressed with the variety of colors I have seen. On the rose ‘Foolish Pleasure,’ I saw a pinkish one. On the leaf of datura, I saw one that was white. Elsewhere I have posted an image of a yellow crab spider on the yellow stamens of a cosmos bloom. These spiders are known to change color depending on what flower they are on. That certainly has seemed to be the case in my yard.

Today I saw a crab spider on a sunflower, and was, once again, impressed with the way this little spider seemed to match the flower.

sunflower with crab spider

Sunflower with crab spider

Notice how well the little crab spider blends with the sunflower:

crab spiders

Crab Spider

Another fun morning in the garden today!

Links:
BBC
CrabSpider.org
Wikipedia