Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Common Green Darner: Just Hanging Out…

We’ve had another cold front. Lows around 50F; highs in the mid70s. We’re definitely into Fall now. This weather front was ushered in by a day or so of quite cool, breezy conditions.

I wandered into the blueberry patch, a sunny area protected from the wind, to photograph a flower of a tall Goldenrod. Then, quite to my surprise - one of those 'I don't know what made me look' moments - I spotted this female Common Green Darner hanging onto a branch of one of the blueberry bushes and basking in the warm sun.

Murphy’s Law prevailed. My camera batteries chose to go completely flat at that very instant. I’ve learned to carry spare batteries so that wasn’t a problem but I was afraid that she would leave while I was loading new batteries. Fortune smiled. She didn’t leave and she posed quite prettily while I took these photos.

My first sighting…

A zoom photo…

A macro photo…

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
- BugGuide: Common Green Darner (Anax junius) [Male] [Female]
Click the image to view a larger image

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Robber Fly: Diogmites neoternatus

This was one of the other robber flies that had gathered by a small pool in the woods. These flies (Diomites neoternatus) – one of the Hanging-thieves – were sharing the same area of Wartremoving herb (Murdannia keisak) with the Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes). Neither type of fly was hunting although there were many Carolina Satyrs in the vicinity. They were probably warming themselves in the sun.

Identification resources:

- Giff Beaton's Robber Flies (Asilidae) of Georgia and the southeast: Diogmites neoternatus
- Bug Guide: Diogmites neoternatus [dorsal] [lateral]

Click on an image to view a larger image

Monday, September 28, 2009

Robber Fly: Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes)

A few weeks ago we had a cold spell. Just after it warmed up again, I walked down to the creek. The woods were alive with Carolina Satyrs; more than I have ever seen at one single time. Although I have seen robber flies, I have only seen one at a time. On this occasion there were five or six.

Some were Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes). When they fly, they sound like little single-engine airplanes. I can identify them when I hear them coming.

Identification resources:

- Giff Beaton's Robber Flies (Asilidae) of Georgia and the southeast: Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes).

- Bug Guide: Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promach
us rufipes).
Click on an image to view a larger image

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Settled For The Evening

This Gulf Fritillary had settled on a grass stalk in the shade in the late afternoon. The colors, though unreal, are true to the light conditions.

Click on the image to view a larger image

Friday, September 25, 2009

Assassin Bug: Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus)

I made an exciting find this afternoon. The Goldenrod is in full bloom at the moment and will be a major food source for wasps, bees, and flies into the late fall. I noticed something larger on one of the flowers. At first I thought it was a Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus) although it looked a little big at a distance. When I investigated, I found that it was a Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus). I first saw these last year and only saw one or two. They don’t seem to be common in our area. These are fascinating bugs – they look like prehistoric armoured insects - and this year I have been purposefully looking out for them.

I saw this nymph in the butterfly bush in June and July. I didn’t see it again and assumed it had become a meal for something a little larger.

This is a handsome specimen. It was feeding on a bee.

Identification resource:
- Bug Guide: Assassin Bug: Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus) [Nymph] [Adult]
Click on an image to view a larger image

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arrowhead Spider (Verrucosa arenata)

The Arrowhead Spider (Verrucosa arenata) is a small orbweaver spider. I love these spiders but I bet they hate me. They build webs that straddle the path down to the creek. Unfortunately I don’t see the webs and walk into them, ripping them apart. I hate to destroy them; the spiders must have expended so much energy building. Often when I break the web, the spider is left dangling from the brim of my hat. It’s a strange feeling to suddenly see a spider dangling in front of ones face. Makes for some great photo ops to have them stay with me rather than running up their webs to safety. I deposited this one on a leaf.

Usually the spider presents its underside…

Occasionally, it’s possible to get a nice photo of the upper side.

Identification resource:
- Bug Guide: Arrowhead spider (Verrucosa arenata) [Male] [Female]
Click on an image to view a larger image

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

At the same time I saw the Long-tailed Skipper, a Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) was also quietly working flowerlets on the butterfly bush. The hairstreaks have fascinating faces; they look like the friendly alien faces portrayed in science fiction illustrations.

Identification resources:

- West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)
- BugGuide: Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Click the image to view a larger image

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans): Egg Laying Time Again…

Last year I didn’t notice the Green Lynx spiders in the butterfly bush until late summer and then followed their egg laying and guarding the egg cases last year,. I thought they must have been in the bush all year but I just hadn’t noticed them. This year I was actively looking for them. I saw a young spider in spring but then didn’t see them at all during summer. They may have been there but, if so, they were very unobtrusive. It’s also possible that they weren’t there but gravitated to the butterfly bush because it's a good place to find insects to eat and fatten up before laying eggs.

Then, in August, several females appeared. They were fat and healthy, ready to lay eggs.

They lurked on the underside of the flowers on the butterfly bush waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting butterfly, bee or fly.

Now they have laid eggs and each will guard its egg case faithfully until the eggs hatch. It’s not clear that they will eat during this time. They will fearlessly attack anything - including a human finger - that approaches.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gulf Fritillary: Enjoying A Respite From Rain…

It’s raining heavily now; we’re well on our way to eight inches in the last six days. Today we had a respite for a few hours. The temperature climbed into the 70s and, with the humidity, it was quite warm. Three Gulf Fritillaries, a Zebulon Skipper, a Fiery Skipper, and a Common Buckeye took the opportunity to get something to eat. After six days they were probably quite hungry.

This Gulf Fritillary ate upside down…

And right side up.

Identification resources: - West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

- BugGuide: Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) [Wings folded] [Wings open]
Click the image to view a larger image

Eastern Box Turtle: Just Passing Through...

When I got back from the lake yesterday morning I met W at the entrance to the driveway. He warned me to look out for an Eastern Box Turtle that had been trundling its way across the parking strip where I park my car. I couldn’t see a turtle anywhere. We looked all around, figuring that it had headed off towards the woods. No sign of it. W poked around and finally found that it had crawled under a plastic container covering a hydraulic car jack.

I moved it over on a bed of leaves to get a photograph. Most turtles I’ve found tend to retreat into their shells and stay there until I’ve left. Almost immediately it poked its head out to explore its surroundings. It ignored our cat when she came to investigate this strange creature.

Soon it decided it was time to leave…

And we’re off….

Back to safety under the plastic container covering the car jack. It hunkered down there for a while and, when we’d all left, it continued on its way to go wherever it was going when it was so rudely interrupted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wet Day At The Lake

We’ve had six inches of rain now; three inches on Wednesday and one each on Thursday, Friday and today. Now up to 36.4 inches for the year. Mostly it has fallen as light rain but we’ve had some heavy showers. The ground is pretty wet now. The mornings are still in the 60s and the humidity is high. Both the air and the water pleasantly warm. So it’s enjoyable to row even if it’s gray and wet.

It was foggy when I started out. Another boat, a fishing boat, went out just after me but they stayed close to the north shore and must have left when it started to rain heavily. There was only one other boat out today so I had the lake to myself. Quite a change from sunny days when the lake can be like an obstacle course with boaters.

The lake level has risen several inches this week. This photo was taken from the dam (Segment 5) looking back towards the beach (Segment 14). The overflow is in the foreground.

This photo was taken at the beginning of Segment 8 looking towards the Nature Center (Segment 10) which is not visible in this photo.

It started to rain quite heavily as I was leaving Segment 11 and didn’t ease off until I was in the final run to the boat launch. This photo was taken at the beginning of Segment 12 looking towards the dam. The point is the junction between Segments 12 and 13.

Even in inclement weather, it is pretty on the lake.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)

We had more than 3 inches of rain yesterday. That’s pretty wet around here. I walked down to check for mushrooms in the creek bottom. Although it was a little early for the mushrooms to have developed, it was pleasantly warm and good to get out and walk. I was checking out a new wildflower and walked along to get a better look at how high the creek had risen. There were a few moths but no Carolina Satyrs in sight.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something scurry and stop. It looked like a small skink – about 3 inches in length - although lighter in color than I would have expected a skink to be. Also, unlike a skink, it had ‘frozen’ and made no attempt to make a run for it even when I moved slowly towards it.

I got this photograph. It wasn’t until I downloaded the image and examined it that I realized it wasn’t a skink but a salamander. This is the first time I have found a salamander. Or maybe, in this case, it found me.

Identification resources:

- University of Georgia. Salamanders of Georgia and South Carolina: Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)
- Stacy N. Smith. Two-lined Salamanders, Eurycea bislineata complex. pp. 186-189. In. Jensen JJ, Camp CD, Gibbons W, Elliot MJ (eds.). Amphibians and reptiles of Georgia. The University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 2008.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

It looked like the butterflies were done for the season after the last cool spell. It’s warmed up a little again and, on Sunday, I got a pleasant surprise when I checked out the butterfly bush. At first I thought it was a Silver-spotted Skipper; however, it behaved quite differently. I can normally walk up fairly close to a Silver-spotted Skipper. This butterfly was very skittish and flew off the minute I moved towards it even when I was quite a distance away. Fortunately, it kept coming back.

Suddenly I realized it was a Long-tailed Skipper. The long tail and the blue coloring on the back were a dead giveaway. I had only seen one previously – last year. This was a delightful surprise.

Identification resources:
- West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
- BugGuide: Slaty Skimmer Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) [Top] [Underwing]

Click the image to view a larger image

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Marburg Creek Reservoir: Early Morning At The Lake

It’s been a beautiful weekend. The beginning of autumn. It’s not too cold in the morning and doesn’t warm up too much before I’m through. The days aren’t too hot; in the low to mid80s. The mornings are perfect; in the low to mid60s. And for the most part, the water has been calm with a gentle cooling breeze. Beautiful weather for rowing.

And I get to enjoy these…

And when it’s sunny, these small bridges are so pretty…
This is the bridge at the Fishing Area (Segment 12/13).

And then I get to see these…
They’re just ordinary ducks and they’ve been residents at the lake for as long as I’ve been rowing there. But I still love to see them. At the moment they are overnighting in Segment 11. I met them there this morning. Last time I saw them they were making their way down Segment 10. Judging by where I’ve seen them other mornings, they were headed down to the campground.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dragonfly: Common Green Darner (Anax junius)

The female Common Green Darner was the final player in the pool frenzy. She was probably the first to settle.

She settled on a clump of grass at the waterline and appeared to lay eggs around its base. Before she had finished, she had laid eggs at a couple of locations in the pool. She was the hardest to photograph but I did manage to get this one that shows her fairly clearly.

I went back through my photographs from last year and found a series with a male and female Common Green Darner. The female was laying eggs in this same pool. She, too, laid eggs in almost the same locations at the female this year.

Postscript, Sunday 9/13/2009:
The Twelve-spotted Skimmer was in residence. A male Common Green Darner made many passes over the pool but didn't land.

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
- BugGuide: Common Green Darner (Anax junius) [Male] [Female]

Click the image to view a larger image

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dragonfly: Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida)

These are the Yellow-sided Skimmers that were at the pool.

Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida) - Male

The male was relatively unphased by the periodic buzzing by the larger Twelve-spotted Skimmer. He would simply fly a couple of small circuits, relative to the size of the circuits flown by the Twelve-spotted Skimmer, and settle on the same or another grass stalk. On occasion, he even settled on the same grass stalk as the Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida) - Female

The female was unaffected by the interaction between the males. She chose a location near where the male had perched. Then she began executing a series of small vertical oval circuits, dipping her abdomen in the water at the bottom of each circuit. I assumed she was laying eggs. When she finished, she flew off. This all happened too quickly for me to get into a better photograph but I can see the characteristic marking/color on her thorax. (The male is in the lower right-hand corner of the photograph.)

Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida) - Female

This is a photograph I took of a female Yellow-sided Skimmer last year; it shows the characteristic markings much more clearly.

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida)

- BugGuide: Yellow-sided Skimmer (Libellula flavida) [Male] [Female]

Click the image to view a larger image

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dragonfly: Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

This is the male Twelve-spotted Skimmer. He has returned to the pool on several occasions. So far, I haven’t seen a female.

Identification resources:
- Dragonflies of Georgia:
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
- Bug Guide: Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) [male] [female]

Click on an image to view a larger image

Dragonflies: Frenzy At The Pool

A frenzy. At least that’s what it looked like when I first arrived at the pool. In retrospect, I arrived at the pool at about the same time as four dragonflies. They were all flying around. All wings. None had settled. It took a couple of minutes to sort out that there were only four.

They settled. There were two males; a Twelve-spotted Skimmer and a Yellow-sided Skimmer. There were two females; a Common Green Darner and, I believe, a Yellow-sided Skimmer.

The Twelve-spotted Skimmer appeared to believe it was his pool. Periodically he would buzz the male Yellow-sided Skimmer. The latter took it all in stride. He would simply fly a couple of circuits and settle on the same or another grass stalk. On occasion, he even settled on the same grass stalk as the Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

At the same time, the two females set about laying eggs.

The Common Green Darner settled on a clump of grass at the waterline and appeared to lay eggs around its base. Before she had finished, she had laid eggs at a couple of locations in the pool.

The other female whom I believe was a Yellow-sided Skimmer also appeared to lay eggs, In contrast to the Common Green Darner, this dragonfly executed a series of small vertical oval circuits, dipping her abdomen in the water that the bottom of each circuit. I assumed she was laying eggs too.

After the females had completed their tasks, they flew away, leaving the males to occupy the pool in a somewhat uneasy peace.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dragonfly: Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum)

Just when I think I’ve seen all of the dragonfly species I’m going to see this year, I find another one. A few days ago, after the cool spell, I went out to the shallow pool by the greenhouse and found a frenzy of dragonflies. At least there were four dragonflies representing at least three species. This number qualifies as a frenzy for this small pool. More about them in future posts. Actually, I’d planned to start those posts today but this is more exciting.

Anyway, today I went out after it had warmed up to see if there were any dragonflies. Nothing. I was a little disappointed but as I surveyed the pool I noticed a small red dragonfly that I had never seen before. It was smaller than the Eastern Pondhawk. I couldn’t focus on it with the zoom lens so I decided to circle the pool to see if I could focus from that angle. Still no luck. Nothing for it but to try and step down into the pool and see if I could get close enough to get a shot using the macro lens. Amazingly I was able to. That side of the pool was relatively dry.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum) [Male]

So I edged my way over to it and got this shot. I took several photographs before I spooked it. It flew calmly and quietly – like the Eastern Pondhawks – over to a grass stalk behind me.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum) [Male]

Then I got these shots. I noted previously that I can get closer to dragonflies if I hold the camera in front of me. I checked today and, for the closest photograph, I was holding the camera about three inches from him.

Given the variety of dragonflies that visit this pool and the hit-and-miss way I’m finding them, I joked with W the other day that we needed a table, umbrella and chairs by the pool to be able to sit by the pool and monitor for dragonflies. Maybe we should think seriously about it next year.

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum)
- BugGuide: Slaty Skimmer Blue-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum) [Male] [Female]

Click the image to view a larger image

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dragonfly: Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

The Slaty Skimmers have two favorite spots at our place. One is a patch of vegetation behind the greenhouse and the other is an area at the end of the field near the road. There are plenty of stems to use as perches to soak up the suns’ warmth.

This female particularly liked a dead stem behind the butterfly bush near the road (top) and this stem of the young gingko tree (below). He returned to them repeatedly.

This female preferred stems of plants behind the greenhouse.

The Slaty Skimmers have been amongst the most tolerant of being photographed. It is interesting that they seem to recognize a person as a threat but if I hold a camera in front of me as I approach them, they are less likely to be spooked. I can often extend my camera out at arms length and get quite close to them and take macro photographs of them.

Identification resources:

- Dragonflies of Georgia: Slaty Skimmer (
Libellula incesta)
- BugGuide: Slaty Skimmer (
Libellula incesta) [Male] [Female]
Click the image to view a larger image

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Caterpillar: Banded Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha fasciatus)

This caterpillar was feeding on leaves of the Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora) that was growing at the edge of the lake.

Identification resources:
- BugGuide: Banded Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha fasciatus) [Caterpillar] [Moth]
Click the image to view a larger image