Monday, October 06, 2008

The beauty of bugs

A curious -- and welcome -- side effect of the digital revolution in photography -- ever more people are discovering the insect world. Cause? Effect? Who knows. All I can say is that arthropods and their kin are wonderful subjects, often beautiful subjects. And, oh, such variety as you can see in the pictures that follow.

This is an elusive swallow tail butterfly that patrolled the road in front of my house almost all summer; I never, never spotted him/her near one of my flowers or, for that matter, landing anywhere that I might catch a picture. My neighbor was considerably luckier, as you can see above. Thank you, Andy, for letting me use this image.

The cool weather has almost stopped their high-pitched summer song and, presumably, we won't be seeing spent cicadas on the sidewalk the rest of this year. The sign above and the critter samples were at the registration desk at the Sharlot Hall Museum, likely there to answer the many questions posed by local people and visitors.

No, those are not shadows of this critter's legs, they are reflections; he's perched on my bathroom mirror. I discovered him late one night when I had to leave my nice warm bed. The worst part of the encounter was pulling myself together sufficiently to locate the camera; perhaps I should keep it on my bedside table, just in case.

Now this fellow is one of many similar true bugs that I see wandering about my potted garden. Looks pretty businesslike in that black outfit. I know nothing of his life style or what he eats.... opposed to this ant colony, which I photographed because I had previously never seen a seven-hole hill. Otherwise nothing remarkable about this particular domicile.

Imagine my surprise when, on my walk yesterday, I discovered this big, fat tomato horn worm crawling over a nearly denuded and drying datura plant. I wondered just where he had come from, inasmuch as I regularly check out that particular plant and had never seen him before. Also, the cold will soon be upon us; he should thinking about his future! Of course I asked myself, why a datura? Shortly the answer occurred to me, both the tomato and the datura, as well as potatoes and deadly nightshades and buffalo burr, are all of the same family, solanaceae. If he survives, this critter will shortly shed his green skin to become a pupa, overwintering and emerging next spring as a five-spotted hawk moth. No, not the handsome pink-spotted hawk moth that hovers like a humming bird at dusk, but instead, a drabber cousin.

Today, I rescued this beauty from a mini spider web. Above is the moth's not-too-shabby underside and, below, his gorgeous upper body. I was lucky; he didn't recover from his ordeal with the spider until long after I had taken downloaded these pictures.


kimmus122 said...

Wow. That moth is beautiful!

meggie said...

It is certainly true for me, that I have become much more aware, & fascinated with, the insects that abound.
Great pics!

Anonymous said...

We can't live with some insects and we can't live without them. I hate damn pesky flies. They drive me nuts and I follow them around with a swatter. The are really stupid. The fly in an open door and head to the window on the other side and can't figure out how to leave.

sheoflittlebrain said...

I got behind again!
Love the insect photos. This is the time of year when spiders start moving into our warm houses. Smart little creatures.
Love the warehouse turned art gallery! Think you know E. worked for Sam Hill when he was first out of the service.

Granny J said...

kim -- I was astounded when I got a good look at the moth; I'd never seen one like it before.

meggie -- and there are so many different kinds, shapes and colors, too!

steve -- you're so right, flies are a real annoyance. They aren't the only critters confused by panes of glass. I have the awning-style window with the glass on the outside. Every night when I close the windows to keep the warm in and the cold out, a collection of moths has gathered for the light. If I don't open the window in the AM, they batter themselves trying to get out and away!

brain -- E. worked for Sam Hill? I was almost convinced that he was a strictly mythological being.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much life there is around us. And we often fail to see it.

DDD said...

RE: trapped moths
We always turn out the room lights for a couple of minutes before closing our casement windows to give the critters a chance to find some other "moon" to fly towards. Sometime have to turn on an outside light to lure them away.

RE: caterpillars and tomato plants
Our CSA farmer friends like to see Sacred Datura around the edges of their fields as the tomato worms seem to prefer datura to tomato plants!

Granny J said...

dagny -- I don't know which is worse: the "ugh" response or the failure to see all the critters around us.

3D -- hey! two great suggestions re: moths and re: caterpillars. Worth repeating so more people read them...

Anonymous said...

The Creator's creations are gorgeous!

~Anon in AV.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Actually I should have said Sam Hill's as in Sam Hill's Hardware. Sam Hill was real, but deceased in 1962-65 or so when Sam worked there for his son, George Hill.
Us oldies just called it Sam Hill or Sam Hill's. Wasn't so long ago...or was it?

Granny J said...

brain -- did he work at the warehouse or at the actual hardware store? Was the store on Montezuma where the name is built into the sidewalk?

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