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