Man, I didn’t even have the ‘Sort’ folders cleaned out for an entire 24 hours before I had to add to them again. Not that this is a problem – I can quit anytime I like…
Last night, I was poking around the yard a little by the light of the headlamp and ran across a couple of subjects worthy of getting the camera for, and so I did, crazy and unpredictable person that I am. One of those is below:
You’ve seen this one before, because of course you watch all of my videos the moment they’re posted (surely one of the two people subscribed) – this is the second mantis getting favored by my generous misting, a Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina.) The scale is difficult to discern here, as it was before except for the water drops, but it was roughly 40mm in length now, nearly twice the size that it was earlier; maybe I should have cut back on the water a little. I just confirmed that measurement by going out while typing this to check, since it hasn’t left that spot now almost a day later. Yes, it’s the same one, found in almost the exact same place in an area sparse for mantids of any kind. This is the latter stages of molting, with the exoskeleton that formerly covered its entire body sitting there towards the top of the frame. That never seems right, thought I guess insects might feel the same if they see a discarded bodysuit of ours lying around. I bet they do.
Earlier that day, I’d been at the neighborhood pond briefly and saw a lot of activity among the higher reeds and plants on the water’s edge – lots of stems swaying suddenly and wildly from the jumps and landings of something, though I was having a hard time actually seeing what; I’d spotted both a tiny treefrog and a grasshopper when searching, so it could have been either, but I suspected the frogs. So, after the mantis, I went across to see what showed by the headlamp, knowing it would be easier to spot the source if they couldn’t see me (the light not being identified as a threat.) As I suspected…
… a lot of juvenile green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea,) newly emerged from tadpole stage, were loitering about the various plants like hooligans. I cropped wider on this one to show that one leaf, which gives an impression of size a little better – the largest of the frogs (and this was not one of them) didn’t exceed 20mm in length. They had the widest variety of colors that I’ve seen, from brilliant gold to almost mud grey, but all with that faint translucence that helps show that they’re young.
It took little effort to see scads of them, and only a little playing around to communicate this photographically.
Inserting anything for scale would have spooked them off, but these are just plain ol’ planty plants, garden weed kind of things – I wouldn’t quite have been able to touch the outermost two with the fingers of my spread hand, but my foot would have spanned the gap.
I got lucky with these two in that they were close together, facing upward, and not spooked off by my close approach (I make every effort to be unobtrusive, but leaning in amongst all the plants without disturbing them, as well as keeping camera and hands out of the beam of the headlamp to not betray my nature, while obtaining a clear shot at a decent angle, isn’t always successful.) These reeds probably measure about 3mm in diameter.
This was the tiniest, literally small enough to perch on your fingernail, but in my endeavors to get close enough for a good shot, the frog became suspicious and backed up further within the shelter of the leaves, making it impossible to get the flash at a decent angle – yeah, the flash unit on its separate arm with attached softbox also figures into the equation, and can also disturb leaves – the quarters are tight when you try to get in close. A ringflash would work in such circumstances, but I largely stopped using one because I never liked the way it rendered the light, plus the highlights and reflections look ridiculous.
This is my favorite by far, not just for the detail and the color rendition (if a little bright,) but especially for the expression – I could have saved it for a Profiles post, but naaahhh. It has that unconvincingly guileless look of the kid that’s listening to admonitions to behave while you’re gone, and you just know you’re gonna be taking away a Playstation when you return.
I’m motivated to go back out and see how things look now, after a decent rain (finally,) but wanted to get this post out before midnight. Can’t have too many gaps – people will think I died…