Unexpected Composition

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Our triple window in the living room faces west. Sometimes I just snap pictures from where I sit on the couch and watching TV.

This picture has a combination of varying elements: 3 plants outside the window. The distant treeline on the other side of a large cornfield. Then there’s the tree in our front yard. The sun nears the horizon, its shape altered by elements listed above.

I was quite surprised when I saw the picture. It doesn’t look anything like what I saw in the camera. I know it’s a plant under the sun. The yellow edges the outside of the sun and adds the vertical yellow line through the middle of it.

Like I wrote: I have no idea how the elements resulted in the picture. I’m so glad they did

A Day-Flying Moth

When is a  bumblebee not a bumblebee?

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…  when it’s a snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis).

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They hover to feed at flowers. In this case, it’s a sedum just starting to bloom.

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I hope more will stop for a sip.

Ponytail Plant

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I move my few houseplants outside in the summer, and place them at the base of a sweet gum tree. The ponytail plant (which is around 40 years old) is quite heavy and is at least four feet tall. There’s been more activity around it this summer than usual.

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A leaf-footed bug’s found plenty of hiding places.

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A daddy-longlegs stayed close for some reason,

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and a young praying mantis didn’t like my attention.

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And then this “showed up.” I walk a morning loop around our backyard, looking for spider webs to photograph, and have found several of these spider egg sacs. In all my years and years of hiking and camping, I’ve never seen one until this summer. So far I’ve found eight or nine of them.

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My oldest son told me they’re spider egg sacs. They’re quite a curiosity. I don’t know if there’s one egg in each or more than one. The spider has shed its skin and isn’t around.

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I just went out one last time to get pictures as close as I could. The egg sacs appear to be different now. The third one down from the top looks like the spider might be breaking out of the egg sac.

Lots of Dragonflies

Sorry about the quality of these pictures. The subjects didn’t land and pose.

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A short storm came through a little earlier. I came in to the computer, looked out the picture window and saw dragonflies flying 10 to 15 feet high over our backyard. They flew fast, flew only when the sun was shining, and didn’t land.

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According to my dragonfly books, they’re wandering gliders, are two inches long, and their range includes the U.S. and southern Canada. I was lucky to get the close-up on the one above. All I saw of them was their orange color.

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   They prefer temporary ponds and puddles in the open with bare spots and short vegetation. Here they were flying back and forth over our backyard.

They are the only dragonfly found around the world except for Europe.

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 Early in the evening, I saw lots of them across the highway, flying over the mowed area and over the corn. I stayed on our side of the highway to watch and photograph them. The early evening light shadowed the side of the corn and tree, making it easier to see the dragonflies.

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Like I said, they were fast flyers!  I’d just hold the camera on certain areas and snap the picture when several flew across the cameras’ field of view. A lot of the pictures didn’t turn out; others would if I snapped the picture in time. There are six in the picture above. There wasn’t any aiming the camera. I’d just hold the camera and wait for them to fly by.

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There are four in this picture.

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They flew so fast that their wings didn’t show in a lot of the pictures.

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I had to wonder what the people driving by thought about me standing out there aiming a camera across the highway.

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Wandering gliders are a medium-sized dragonfly, almost two inches long. Their hindwings are triangular and broad at the base. This allows them to fly around for hours.

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They feed mostly on aerial plankton.

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They have been gone two days now, and I really miss them. This was my first encounter with them … and I hope not the last.

 

Two Praying Mantis

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This little praying mantis looks bigger than what it was. It was in the long leaves of my ponytail plant. I had the impression that it had just molted and that it sure didn’t like my presence.

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The second praying mantis was trying to hide in a sedum plant.

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This shed praying mantis skin was in a sedum too. The long legs identified the skin. The mantis was nowhere to be found … of course they are quite difficult to find.

Cloudless Sulphur

Cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae ebule0)

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I just happened to be in the yard at the right time to see this cloudless sulphur land on a hosta flower. They are one of the few butterflies that visit tube flowers. They also visit moist places, which can be dramatic if their numbers are high. Several other butterfly species visit damp places too, having what’s called a “puddle party.”

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The butterfly changed position and left only seconds later. They are not able to survive our winters and migrate south in late summer and fall.

Line Forms to the Right

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Tis’ the season for sapflow butterflies to  visit rotten fruit for their meals.

The butterfly in the foreground is a tawny emperor. One of the three in the line is a tawny emperor. All the others are hackberry butterflies. They each have their proboscis down where the banana split open when I “smushed” it with my sandal. There’s two apple halves in the background.

The hackbery trees in our yard are one of the reasons we have so many hackberry and tawny emperor butterflies here at this time. Both lay their eggs in hackberry trees. A huge hackberry tree grows eight feet or so from the cistern where the butterfly are gathering, and several grow in the yard.

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The orange and black butterfly above is often called a “monarch” when, actually, it’s a viceroy. The black band on  its hindwing differentiates it from the monarch.