Spring Flies In

fly with orange legs resting on a leaf

An unidentified fly rests on a leaf. I think that is a tear in its eye for longcoming arrival of Spring.

Well, even though there are still come big swathes of snow in the yard, we are having what one might call a “beautiful day” here in the hinterlands of western Massachusetts. I took Izzy (my chocolate lab) outside for some exercise, as well as to enjoy the sun and relatively warm temps (it’s going to be 52˚ F today!). Having seen the forecast in advance, I was also anticipating some new arthropod activity. I will give another look later, but I didn’t see any Salticus scenicus  or Sitticus pubescens jumping spiders roaming the brick walls of the house. I was slightly disappointed, but I did see numerous flies buzzing about. I’ll probably try to grab a few shots later just to shake off some of the rust (as well as test out a “new” lens with some reinvigorated cheap extension tubes — more on that in a future post).

In the meanwhile, here’s a nice strong-looking fly having a bit of a rest, a bit of a clean, to welcome in Spring.

The Laments of a Stillborn Spring

long-jawed orbweaver spider resting on red-painted cement

Flashback: March 2012 I found this (likely juvenile?) long-jawed orbweaver spider hanging out on the side of the house.

Well, I was lamenting our “spring” here in western Massachusetts and its accompanying lack of bugs, when I decided to go back in time to see what March had brought me before. This long-jawed orbweaver was shot on March 19, 2012: it marks a stark difference from the current March. But so it goes.

I should probably note, there isn’t entirely a lack of bugs. I found a larder beetle in the house yesterday. Took a few uninspired shots — the unnatural landscape and the beetle’s insistence on playing dead did not really captivate my imagination, I’m sorry to say. But I guess it’s a sign to be patient, and be patient we must. In the meanwhile, I’ll have to “settle” for taking pictures of Izzard the Lizard.

Looking for Someone Like You

high magnification elongated scorpionfly head

The elongated head of a scorpionfly is quite distinctive, though they get their name from clasper at the end of the male’s abdomen, which looks like a scorpion’s stinger (though is completely harmless).

So  I made another excursion yesterday, albeit a short one, in search of snow scorpionflies, but I didn’t find anything; it was above freezing but not by much and the snow was very hard on top. My understanding is that those aren’t the most ideal conditions for snow scorpionflies to be out. Thursday it will be getting warmer so hopefully thaws out some, and I have a little luck.

In the meanwhile, here is a scorpionfly portrait. Like their snowy namesake, they have a distinctly elongated head; I am guessing this is one of the main reasons they were thought to be related, at least initially. Now apparently they are being considered as possibly more closely-related to fleas, insects of an entirely different Order. It should be noted, scorpionflies, snow or otherwise, are completely harmless to humans.

A Case of the Moths

 

moth resting on rough wooden surface

A moth hanging around on a wooden board.

I attempted to do some bug macro photography over the weekend. I went in search of the elusive snow scorpionfly, but alas they are still hopping around Bigfoot’s toes. I think it was a little too cold, but hopefully I will get out once or twice more to search for them. If not, well hopefully it is because spring came in headlong. In the meanwhile, it’s Monday. It’s a moth.

Spring Is Hiding

light green hopper nymph hiding in dark green parsley stems

Green in green: a hopper hides among the parsley stems.

Spring is hiding, but it’s on its way. Effective spring might be short-lived this year — I have a hunch it’s going to get really hot really fast — but it’s nice to see the season on the calendar officially. In the meanwhile I hopefully will get out a couple more times in search of some snow scorpionflies.

Regarding today’s photo, I’m not sure what kind of hopper this is, though that pointy snout may be diagnostic. I liked the contrasting greens in this one.

Winter, Retreat.

dark-colored aphid on nylon tablecloth

Winter Resorts: an aphid can get by fairly well during the winter if it is indoors with houseplants.

Yes, it’s been a long winter for much of North America. For the New England bug photographer, it’s been quite long, I can assure you. A few bugs turn up here and again. I saw one of the most beautifully decorated Phidippus audax jumping spiders scouting the window frames in my house this past January (and I will eventually post photos of it!), but that was the only highlight, really. Sure there was a couple nondescript, little house spiders and an intriguing but erratic tiny rove beetle in the bathroom one day. However, it’s just not quite as…inspiring as an artist might hope for. My results reflect this lack of inspiration, both in quality and quantity; my camera like the bugs was dormant for the most part this past season. The aphid subject above is exhibit A in this regard. You’d think one would be happy to have anything with six legs to shoot, but “outside” of the outdoors things are heavier; scenes are synthetic; and a pest is almost too plain to bother with. I was unable to muster much enthusiasm, and consequently very few shots, for these dark little bugs infesting some of the house plants. I did manage this one decent shot before calling it quits on the aphids, but that was pretty much the not so long and very short of it.

Fortunately, old man winter can’t last forever, even if he’s giving a good run at it. Time for the bugs and the bug photographers to rev up. I can’t wait for the snow white to fade to spring green, to turn the tables and do some pestering of my own.

Love Bug

chocolate lab puppy with basket of toys

It’s Izzy the love bug!

Well, my scheduled posts ran out, and I’ve missed the past couple days of post. I usually like to post on each weekday, but I’ve been busy running around with Izzy, the chocolate lab puppy. She is a purebred lab but also a rescue — she came from a large rescue in my hometown — and I’m very happy we were able to adopt her.

So, this is a personal post to get me back rolling. Bugs to resume shortly.