On this date 31

juvenile eastern fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus on tree
This week, we start off back in 2010, with a juvenile eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus,) quite small yet still a couple of times larger than the subject from a few days ago. It looks like it was taken at night, but fence lizards aren’t really active at night; this was taken at 3:45 PM, and is instead the effect of a small aperture and relying on the flash as the main light source. The ambient light wasn’t enough to expose into the shadows at those settings, so we have this high-contrast rendering, obviously taken before I had worked out a decent softbox arrangement. Things changed later on.

jagged ambush bug genus Phymata nymph on dog fennel Eupatorium capillifolium
Another taken in the afternoon, and if anything, the lens used would have let in even less light, but by this point (2013) I had the first of my successful softboxes. This is a jagged ambush bug (genus Phymata,) hanging out on one of the dog fennel plants, which had their own history. Earlier in the year, or perhaps the previous, I had planted seeds for several species of wildflower, specifically to encourage photo subjects, and this was one of the plants that came up; by the time that I realized it was a weed, it was getting quite tall and already proving popular with numerous species of arthropods, so it remained, for multiple years, and gave me plenty of photo opportunities. This ambush bug was just one of them, so small that it looked like a stray flower petal unless one looked very close, but their appearance is cool enough that a close look is warranted.

By the way, I’ve had dog fennel come up in the yard here for a couple of years now, and it hasn’t proven anywhere near as inviting to the insects this time, not sure why.

Imperial moth Eacles imperialis close up of head
This one is slightly disturbing, not because of its appearance of course, but in that I recalled this as having been taken last year, maybe the year before, but it was actually taken five years ago – I’m going to consider this a fluke and not an indication that my memory is going to hell. I include it here because, late yesterday as I type this, I heard a clattering at the office window and opening the blinds to find another one of these, which is an imperial moth (Eacles imperialis,) and they’re massive, nearly covering your entire hand. I’m fairly certain that it wasn’t the same one though, because they don’t even have mouths or probosci or any way to eat as adults – all they do is breed at this stage, and that lasts only a few days.

And another from the same year, because I have to.

unidentified grasshopper nymph in extreme closeup.
I’m not going to try to identify this grasshopper, which might even be a katydid species instead, because I didn’t get enough full anatomy shots and it’s likely an earlier instar anyway. We just needed this here for the detail, especially the eye facets, but the translucent quality of the chitin was a factor too. And one more thing, which is the rectangular reflection of the light source in the eye. I had thought I was further ahead in the folders, but saw this detail and realized it looked like the flash and softbox that had failed several years ago, and thus rechecked the dates; that’s what caught me about the moth above, because they were taken on the same date. It’s slightly amusing that I can tell what ‘era’ a photo is from by the evidence of the equipment used.

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