Monday, August 31, 2009

Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida)

We have a lot of Rabid Wolf spiders at our place. In the woods, in the field and occasionally in the house… A week or so ago, I had to relocate a big one from the bathroom.

For the most part, the smaller spiders are quite shy and quickly scurry for cover. The large ones, by contrast, often stand their ground although, in my experience, they are not aggressive. Recently I encountered a couple of the largest and quite beautiful Rabid Wolf spiders I have seen in the twenty-odd years we have lived here.

Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) [Female]

This female was under my boat cover. I leave the cover on the ground for a couple of days if I keep the boat on the car. When I put the boat back on its supports an pulled the cover back over it, she was disturbed from her shelter. She sat while I photographed her and left when it became clear that I was going to remove the cover from under her.

Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) [Male]

Every afternoon when I get home, I park at the end of the drive to check the butterfly bush for insects and spiders. I was making my way back to the car one afternoon when I noticed this male spider bipping his way quite purposefully across the drive towards me. He stopped almost at my feet. Again, he stood his ground but showed no signs of aggression.

Identification resources:
- Bug Guide: Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) [Female] [Male]

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Caterpillar: Rustic Sphinx Moth (Manduca rustica)

This Rustic Sphinx moth caterpillar visited the butterfly bush a couple of weeks ago. Just saw it the one afternoon. Couldn’t find it or a chrysalis the next day. It's a magnificent caterpillar.

Identification resource:
- Bug Guide: Rustic Sphinx Moth (
Manduca rustica) [Moth] [Caterpillar]
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Sleepy Orange: Abaeis nicippe

The Sleepy Orange is the other yellow butterfly that is common at the moment. It is smaller than the Cloudless Sulphur and a golden-yellow color in contrast to the lemon-green color characteristic of the Cloudless Sulphur. Although I often see the Cloudless Sulphurs flying across the road on my commute home in the afternoons, I rarely see the Sleepy Oranges flying long distances.

The Sleepy Orange folds its wings immediately after it settles.

When disturbed, they fly in an erratic manner until they settle again. It’s very difficult to get a photo of this butterfly with open wings. I did manage to get a ‘silhouette’ shot that shows the ghost of the black band at the edge of the top of the wings.
Identification resources:

- West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

- BugGuide: Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) [Wings folded] [Wings open]

Click the image to view a larger image

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dragonfly: Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

The Eastern Pondhawk is another of my favorite dragonflies. Most of the larger dragonflies that, when disturbed, fly in long circuits before returning to a favorite perch. In contrast, the Eastern Pondhawk may just calmly fly a short distance – often just a foot or so - to a new perch or even hover in the same spot and return to the same spot.

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) - Male

I saw the male first this year - by the greenhouse. I managed to approach him within a few feet and got some shots.

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) - Female

I didn’t see the female until about two weeks later. She was nervous the first time I saw her but, a day or so later, she let me get within a few feet of her too.

Identification resources:

- Bug Guide: Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) [male] [female]

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterfly & Caterpillar: Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

I saw a few Cloudless Sulphurs earlier in the spring. But lately it seems that the sky has been alive with them. The Cloudless Sulphurs are larger than most of the ‘Whites and Yellows.’ In contrast to most of the ‘Yellows’ their wings are distinctly greenish-yellow. So it is easy to spot them at a distance. For the last week or so, I have seen more than a dozen each day on my 15-mile commute.

They like the Senna obtusifolia (Sicklepod, Coffeeweed) bush and lay eggs on them. This year we have a cluster of bushes by the greenhouse and I’ve been treated to seeing many of them during recent weeks.

This butterfly is a little the worse for wear but it posed for me this morning and, in spite of having lost part of its wings, it is still a beautiful specimen. In addition, I’ve seen a number of its caterpillars.

The caterpillars are apple green with lateral ridges with blue spots evenly distributed along them.

They have a yellow stripe that runs the length of their bodies. The blue dots occur as denser clusters near the stripes.

In full sunshine they appear more lime green although the blue dots and yellow stripe are still prominent.

Identification resources:

- Bug Guide: Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) [Butterfly] [Caterpillar]

- West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Cloudless Sulphur (
Phoebis sennae)
- Ohio Birds and Diversity: Amazing Cloudless Sulphur photos

Click on the image to view a larger image

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Little Rain … Then Mushrooms

We've had a little rain during the last week. Not much, but enough to raise the humidity and get some mushrooms growing. I spotted a big, beautiful specimen from the water and decided it was worth the effort to walk a along the lakeside trail to photograph it particularly since this is my favorite section of the park.

The trail…

The immediate locale…

The mushroom…

I'm not certain what it is. It stood about 7-8 inches high. The cap was 8–9 inches in diameter, the size of a small plate. Remnants of a veil were lying on the ground under an identical mushroom a little further down the trail north from the Fishing Area (Segment 12). It is possible that it is an
Amanita sp. If so, it is probably Amanita cinereopannosa.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dragonfly: Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) - Teneral

I saw a ‘new’ dragonfly when I was down at the creek a few days ago. It was behaving unusually in that it was landing in the shade under foliage rather than on a branch in the sun. It was not as shy like most dragonflies. It looked like a Common Whitetail in shape and the markings were similar to those of a female Common Whitetail although it lacked the typical colors on the body and the wings. It took a little sleuthing to identify it as a teneral, a dragonfly that has recently emerged from its’ nymph stage and whose body is still soft.

Identification resources:
- Bug Guide: Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) Teneral
- The Dragonfly Life Cycle [Teneral]
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Waterlily: Helvola

It was a cloudy day today. But the waterlily opened anyway…
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Green Lynx Spiders (Peucetia viridans)

Maybe another sign of autumn. The Green Lynx spiders (Peucetia viridans) have appeared in the butterfly bush. I’ve seen a few now. There aren’t a lot of insects around the bush at the moment. The heat has suppressed flowering after the spring and the bush is just starting to show signs of new leaf and flower development for autumn. Fiery skippers and the occasional Silver-spotted skippers have been the main visitors to the bush. The Green Lynx spiders have been catching Fiery skippers.

Yesterday morning I found a female Green Lynx that had caught a skipper.

A male Green Lynx spider was also there.

He would approach the female. She would drop down a little on her silk and then climb up again when he retreated a little. This was repeated many times. I am not sure if he wanted to steal her butterfly or if his intentions were amorous. In either case, the female was not letting him near her meal.

Identification resource:
- BugGuide: Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) [Male] [Female]
Click the image to view a larger image

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Early Bird Gets The …

It’s still hot but there’s a sense of autumn in the air. Some of the trees are starting to drop leaves and the Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) are ‘showing up’ again. I don’t see them much during the summer in the last week or so they have started to appear again. This morning I saw five. Only one was in the open. Most were hanging in the woods at the lake shore hunting. They are shy and retreat into the woods if I slow down or stop.

This one, however, was preoccupied with hunting. I stopped a fair way past it and floated slowly in with the breeze. Just after I took this photo it caught something on the shore, not in the water. I think it may have been a frog judging by the amount of effort it had to expend to swallow it.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chinese Mantid (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis)

Today W was mowing part of the field to get rid of some sumac and cobbler’s peg plants that were beginning to flower. He noticed a mantid on one of the sumacs. We tried to photograph it on the sumac but it was very active and wouldn’t stay still. We’d move a branch to get a good shot and the mantid would move to another spot. It's a juvenile; it can’t fly yet. So…

We relocated it to a stick where it was a little difficult to hide.

And a full-face shot,

And some attitude...

Identification resources:

- BugGuide: Chinese Mantid (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) [body] [face]
Click the image to view a larger image

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Red Wasp (Polistes carolina)

We’ve been in a drought pattern for the last few years and we've seen numerous wasps coming to water plant containers to drink. This year has been a ‘wet’ year and we haven’t seen a lot of wasps until now that we’re in the ‘dry’ months.

Red Wasps (Polistes carolina) have been visiting the Sicklepod (Coffeeweed; Senna obtusifolia) flowers near the house in the last week or so. In my experience, they are not aggressive wasps and will fly away if I get too close.

And a close-up...

Identification resources:

- BugGuide: Red Wasp (Polistes carolina)

Click the image to view a larger image

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dragonfly: Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

I found this male Blue Dasher flying around in a wildflower patch near the house. He settled on this dead stem for a couple of minutes and then flew off.

This female was monopolizing the butterfly bush a day or so later. It was windy so she was moving her wings to keep balance. Although she was nervous and flew off a few times, she flew back and settled on this same branch. I was able to pull the branch closer to me to take a few close-up photos.

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Blue Dasher (
Pachydiplax longipennis)
- BugGuide: Blue Dasher (
Pachydiplax longipennis) [male] [female]
Click the image to view a larger image

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sam The Koala: RIP

Sam became an icon for resilience and recovery from the bushfires in Victoria, Australia in February, 2009.

Sadly, Sam also was infected with chlamydia and suffered irreparable damage to her urinary and reproductive tract. Her vets chose to put her to sleep since there was no way that they could operate or manage the pain she would endure as a result of the complications of her infection. As sad and tragic as her fate is, she was spared the painful death she would have suffered in the wild.

RIP, Sam.

Report: Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dragonfly: Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

The Great Blue Skimmer (GBS) is one of my favorite dragonflies. Last year I saw one on a dead branch hanging over the small pond W and j dug to provide water for frogs to breed in. The branch was long enough for me to get a photo that would let me identify it but not long enough to get me get a good photo. This year is different.

A branch of a Chinese Privet that the GBS really liked grew further out over the pond this year and let me get this photo.

A couple of weeks later, during a cold spell, the GBS settled on some dead branches to warm in the mid-morning sun and let me get within about 10-ft where I got this photo.

When spooked, it settled on another dead branch on the other side of where I was standing. I was able to edge even closer and got this photo.

Identification resources:
- Dragonflies of Georgia: Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)
- BugGuide: Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)
[Male] [Female]
Click the image to view a larger image

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mushroom: Marasmius sp.

It’s rained a couple of days in a row.

On Friday, I walked down to the creek bottom and saw a few of these mushrooms with very white caps that are slightly translucent. Just a few… Single, in pairs, or small clusters.

Yesterday, there were forests of them in the undergrowth beside the path…

They were growing on dead stems or branches.

Identification resource:

The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. ISBN: 0-394-51992-2
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Damselfly: Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)

I was standing waiting at the edge of the pond by the creek for a dragonfly to return to its favorite branch when I noticed movement down near the waters’ edge. It was the white stripes that had grabbed my attention and let me track down what it was. It stayed on this stem for quite some time before it flew off. But it was a treat to see and be able to photograph it.

I’ve never seen this damselfly before, probably because I don’t spend a lot of time by the pond. Too many mosquitoes…

Identification resources:
- BugGuide: Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
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