Archive for May 2015

20150528 Devil’s Rock Wasp   2 comments

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.

From 20150528_devils_rock

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.

From 20150528_devils_rock

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.

From 20150528_devils_rock

Here’s a closeup of the ovipositor, a little hairier than I expected!

From 20150528_devils_rock

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.

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Posted 2015-05-29 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Midges   Leave a comment

I think of insects as wildlife that do home delivery. You don’t get orcas dropping by your house asking if you want to take photos of them, but insects and spiders are just as interesting, and are quite happy to hang out with you, whether you ask them to or not.

Summer means midges inside and outside the house. They’re pretty small, about 1.5 mm or so, so I see them all over the place, but have never got a good look at them to see what they’re like. That means I had to drag out the camera and take some photos.

From 0000_misc

The next few are presumably male, because of the feathery antennae.

From 0000_misc
From 0000_misc
From 0000_misc

Posted 2015-05-27 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

20150524 Moose Hill   2 comments

A Gnaphosid spider:

From 20150524_moose_hill

I really loved this beetle, which belongs to the family Carabidae, or ground beetles. Iridescent colours and a wonderfully alien head.

From 20150524_moose_hill

Closeup of the head:

From 20150524_moose_hill

And here’s a closeup of the elytra (shell) of the beetle.

From 20150524_moose_hill

Continuing on the theme of experimenting with dandelions. As mentioned, I added the macro snap-on lens and I cranked up the aperture, in order to decrease the depth of field. This was so that the dandelion wisps in the foreground went bokeh and allowed us to see the center. Unfortunately, with the lenses I had available, this meant that I was unable to get the whole dandelion into the field of view. I should try again with other lenses.

Using flash, of course, made the background dark, which made them more dramatic.

I can’t decide which of these two (or the one in the previous post) looks best.

From 20150524_moose_hill
From 20150524_moose_hill

Posted 2015-05-24 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

20150514 Devil’s Rock   Leave a comment

I had exactly half an hour to spare and was in the area, so a quick trip to Devil’s Rock was just what hit the spot.

Please forgive me for posting some more longish exposures of the stream. I’ll try to control myself in the future. Not as strong a flow as early spring, of course.

From 20150514_devils_rock_home
From 20150514_devils_rock_home

Found this dandelion at home. I cranked up the aperture to decrease size of the focal plane, and focused on the center of the flower, keeping the outside in the frame.

From 20150514_devils_rock_home

Posted 2015-05-14 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

20150321 Devil’s Rock water flowing under the ice   Leave a comment

I don’t shoot a lot of videos, but I thought that this one was pretty cool. Water droplets on their stochastic path down the rock.

Posted 2015-05-04 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized