There it is, that’s a straw, you see?

ctenucha virginica feeding

It drinks it up!

It was either that or “I…am…the Batmoth.” This, of course, is a photograph of the unmistakeable Ctenucha virginica, a day-flying moth. Its orange head, metallic blue scales and black (cape-like!) wings make it easy to spot and impossible to forget (for me anyway). You will notice the feeding tube planted squarely  in the flower — for humans that is a straw, for moths and other various insects that is the proboscis. A feeding insect is often a much easier photographic subject than one otherwise engaged, in my experience. They seem to be unaware of danger, or at least willing to tolerate potential threats to a much higher degree. The particular individual represented above was no exception as I intruded its space quite liberally. In a quick turnaround, I became emboldened, pushed in even closer and, like a switch, it darted from the flower and flew a haphazard course up into the trees and out of my inadequate, trailing vision. Of the fine lines in bug macro photography, knowing where the demarcation line for photo or flight is as difficult as any. I try not to make sudden movements, to approach from the side or below (not from above if possible!), to pause when they twitch and not to breathe if at all possible (that one as mentioned previously, has, ahem, deleterious side effects). But, truthfully, it feels a lot like a lot of luck, if you get me. The best solution is to be resilient, persevering and able to “let one go,” which is sometimes hard when a rarer subject like C. virginica comes along. I hate to come up empty-handed, but it just happens sometimes: I am in the viewfinder, searching for the subject so I can search for the focus, and I struggle and struggle in the blurry, empty square, and huff, finally giving my eye back to the world at large and nothing at all. My subject is drunk up, right in front of my eyes, gone forever.

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2 thoughts on “There it is, that’s a straw, you see?

  1. Hey Mike – This is an extraordinary photo which comes alive with your narration. Congrats on such a wonderful combination of image and story. UJ

  2. it’s beautiful, mike. in addition to the colors, i find the furriness of the head and long antennae also striking.

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