I turned over a rock, and saw a sowbug killer spider (Dysderidae); in fact, I’ve pretty much only seen these spiders when I look under rocks. Also some interesting unidentified ants.
Note that in this next photo, the twigs were only on top and did not pass through the leaf. Perhaps from the bagworm, Psychidae.
This is the cocoon of a parasitic wasp. There is a shrivelled caterpillar somewhere in this mess that has been eaten away by the wasp larvae.
A wet morning. The droplets on the grass and bushes were too inviting, so I took some time to take some photos.
I find it tough to properly frame and crop photos like these, as they are composed of an accumulation of lots of small but interesting elements. There’s not always a well-defined focus or flow to them. When you see an opportunity for a good photo then, go and grab it!
What I’ve noticed about photographing water droplets is that it’s critical to consider what’s behind the droplet, in terms of both background (flowers and leaves are nice!) and sunlight. Still trying to get better at this.
Finally, this one is the one that got away. I was really looking forward to showing the blades of grass skewing in all directions, each with its strand of droplets — unfortunately, I didn’t calculate for the foreground piece out of focus.
Here’s the best crop I could recover from it:
Another half an hour to kill while my son had guitar lessons. A trip to Devil’s Rock was the obvious choice. I saw a lot of wasps flying around, but they were very tough to photograph in flight.
I followed this particular wasp for almost the entire half hour. The long ovipositor identifies her as a “she”; she’s probably a Braconid wasp, and probably of the genus Atanycolus. No surprise, she spent a lot of time walking around a rotting log; no surprise, I followed her everywhere she went, trying to get a shot of her laying her eggs in the wood. Sadly, it was no dice.
What was she doing? While I don’t know anything about Atanycolus in particular, I have some general ideas of Braconids and Ichneumonids. They are parasitoids, and try to lay their eggs in beetle grubs, caterpillars, and other insects. Some Atanycolus species are wonderful at controlling the Emerald Ash Borer, which would mean a lot, since that is a major pest of our forests.
The beetles react by laying their eggs deep in the wood. The wasps fight back by growing long ovipositors and developing the almost supernatural ability to detect grubs deep in the wood and managing to aim their ovipositors directly into the grubs.
They tend to walk along the wood, tapping with their antennae, listening for sounds that indicate that there is something in the trunk that’s not wood, and searching for the smell. Being able to drill into the wood is very impressive — they’ve evolved to actually have metal in their ovipositors. Yes: you can call them bionic.
Here’s a closeup of the ovipositor, a little hairier than I expected!
It’s sometimes not pleasant to think of parasitoids laying their eggs in living creatures. But let’s not superimpose human standards onto these wonderful animals, and instead take the time to admire their amazing abilities.