Clymene Moth & Our Garden

Clymene Moth

This Clymene Moth, Haploa clymene, popped in while I was carrying in groceries this evening to wait out the storm. I guess it’ll be fine there on the wall till it quits raining. That is, provided the cats don’t find it first. These are lovely moths with a very distinctive wing pattern.

Before David left for work this afternoon he brought in the first of hopefully many pieces of produce from the garden. These Summer Squashes and Zucchini grow fast!

Summer Squash & Zucchini

The plants are a lot bigger than I expected, too. They take up about half of our garden space. Since this is our first garden here, David started small, about 10′ X 15′. That should be plenty just for us, though. He also planted a bit of lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green beans, and some peppers. Fresh produce really is the best! The photo below is from June 7th.

Summer Squash Plant

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Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) #1

I spotted this Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) today on the bird bath. More than likely it fell out of the close-by Sassafras tree. I’m guessing this one is pretty close to pupating; but in the final instar of the Spicebush Swallowtail, it turns a bright yellow. According to Wikipedia:

“The entire development process from egg to adult takes about a month. Once they have reached the adult stage, Papilio troilus can live anywhere from two days to two weeks dependent on resource availability and predator avoidance.”

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) #2

I’ll be searching the entire summer for an adult butterfly to photograph, now. I saw one the other day in the yard; however, to my disappointment, I didn’t have my camera outdoors with me at the time. Hopefully, the opportunity will arise again.


 

By the way, for anyone interested, I recently began exploring Instagram and posting a few shots over there. David is letting me use his old Android as a portable device to get a “feel” for these confounded smartphones. (I have to catch up to the rest of humanity at some point, right?) Fascinating device with a lot of perks, but I really hate typing on it. Give me a keyboard any day! The camera is “meh,” not as great as my Canon PowerShot; but at least it gives me the opportunity to experience Instagram.

Feel free to look me up at: https://instagram.com/pixygiggles/

Eastern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes tityus)

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #1

I’m backtracking a bit to July 22nd and one of my absolute, all-time favorite finds. This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, species Dynastes tityus, commonly known as a Rhinoceros Beetle or Unicorn Beetle. The most obvious difference between the male and the female is that males have the two pincer-like horns whereas females do not.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #2

I had to laugh when this one made its way up to the nail because it seemed to get stuck there. Then again, I could have blinded the poor thing with the flash from my camera. I really hate using a flash to photograph wildlife for that reason; but the long exposure photos just weren’t turning out all that great, not to mention he was squirming around making it difficult to get a nice still shot. Case in point, this 2 second exposure (below) has a nice dramatic feel; but the detail leaves a lot to be desired.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #3

Within the first few weeks of us moving here, I began seeing these regularly. Prior to seeing this live beetle climbing the light-pole on July 22nd, I found a dead one at the base of another light-pole that was perfectly intact, minus its right tarsus. I kept it because… well… they’re just cool and I totally geek out over bugs. Unfortunately, we didn’t have internet yet at that time; and I didn’t know how to properly preserve it for mounting.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, Ventral View

I pulled it back out today to photograph a ventral view (above) and noticed that it’s not faring all that well. Next time I find one, I’ll know because today I’ve found a plethora of information online for mounting beetles and butterflies. I’m not going to kill them in order to do this, though. I simply don’t have the heart to do that.

Pickerel Frog, Rana palustris

And last but not least, I happened to notice this pickerel frog while photographing the Eastern Hercules Beetle. This photo was a happy accident, far better than I expected as I was shooting blind. It was the only one I took because I scooted the frog on its way so I wouldn’t accidentally step on it. It seemed thoroughly grateful to get away. They can jump quite high!

For more details and information about the Eastern Hercules Beetle visit:

Side note: by now I should seriously know better than to go outdoors and not take my camera because I had the funniest encounter with a small butterfly this afternoon. First, it enthusiastically climbed onto my finger and appeared to be licking it. After a few moments of this, it flew away. A couple of minutes later, it fluttered all around me and landed on my nose! I broke out into a fit of giggles thoroughly enjoying this rare opportunity to be so up close and personal with the friendliest of butterflies. Have I said lately how much I LOVE the new home? 😉

Carpenter Ant with Slug

Carpenter Ant with Slug

I don’t often use the black and white setting on my digital camera. Anytime I do, like in this photo, I have to adjust the blacks and whites post-production for better contrast; so this one has been edited. I was in the mood to try something different. I’m fairly pleased with the end result.

On a side note, the slug and ant looked as if they were conversing. The ant never touched the slug, just stood there for a while before moving on down the log.

Spring Azure

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #2

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #2, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Blue-Butterfly Day
By Robert Lee Frost

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #1

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #1, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

More information about the Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon (Cramer, 1780), can be found at: Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Celebrating the Autumn Equinox

Cummins Falls

I decided to take a quick walk today at Cummins Falls to celebrate the Autumn Equinox. This past week has finally began feeling like autumn. Today was absolutely beautiful weather for a hike. After stopping by the overlook, I decided to head upstream to the top of the falls rather than make the long trek to the bottom.

A Well Camouflaged Toad

This little guy was lucky I didn’t step on him (or her, not sure which). As I walked down the path to the water, I noticed several of these small toads hopping about.

American Rubyspot #3

These male American Rubyspot damselflies were all over the place. This one was patient and fearless, allowing me several photos.

Animal Bone? #3

I spotted this bit of bone under a rock. It was bigger than my fist! Maybe, a vertebrae? I’m not very good at anatomy, lol.

Upstream & Precarious

It’s so peaceful out there. I could spend an entire day just listening to that waterfall and exploring the area.

Close to the Edge

I’m still battling my fear of heights, but I managed to get close enough to the edge to get these two photos.

Above the Falls

Tranquility Sits by a Log & Tiny Flower

It was a gorgeous day, and I’m thankful for the respite. Thanks for stopping by!

Common Whitetail Dragonfly (Plathemis lydia)

I stepped outside for some fresh air earlier this evening, and to my surprise this dragonfly was resting on the catnip plant. This is a male Common Whitetail  Dragonfly (Plathemis lydia). I’m not sure if the poor thing was frozen in fear by my presence or if he is close to the end of his life. He was breathing awfully hard. I’ve never seen one so docile and calm before. Maybe, catnip has that effect on them?

“Dragonflies have excellent eyesight. Their compound eyes have up to 30,000 facets, each of which is a separate light-sensing organ or ommatidium, arranged to give nearly a 360° field of vision.” [Source: Common Whitetail Dragonfly – Plathemis lydia]

“Males and females have different wing patterns.” [Source: BugGuide.net – Species Plathemis lydia – Common Whitetail]

For whatever reason this dragonfly patiently allowed me to photograph him, I was very happy to have the opportunity to get a few decent photos and this short video clip.

Summer Butterflies

I have seen so many of these butterflies this summer! I’m pretty sure that all of these photos are of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus). These first two were taken yesterday afternoon at Cane Creek Park. Both of these are of the same butterfly. The one above is my favorite of all the ones I’ve taken so far because my camera actually focused on the eyes (no manual focus on my point and shoot), and it was intently staring at me. I was delighted that it actually climbed up on my finger, briefly, before fluttering all around me. Butterflies are so graceful.

This next one is from Cane Creek Park on July 25. The flowering bush (not sure what it is) was covered in butterflies and bumblebees. I looked yesterday, but the flowers are already gone. I liked this photo because I actually caught the butterfly with its wings open.

This is a short video clip of the same butterfly. I don’t often think to get video which is probably a good thing as my hard drive is drowning in photos, let alone video clips.

And finally, this last photo is from a short hike I took on July 7th at Standing Stone State Park. Does anyone know why butterflies gather like this on the ground? They were so focused on whatever they were doing that they were completely oblivious of my presence for the first few minutes. This allowed me to get pretty close to the whole group of them. It was pretty cool when they all took flight at the same time, dancing around me like fairies.

Oh, and that’s a millipede in the lower left-hand corner, not a snake. Unfortunately, the photo I took of it was a little blurry and not really worth sharing.

After a quick search back through my archives, I just realized that I haven’t written a post devoted to Standing Stone State Park here. I know I meant to. It must be one of those ideas I placed on the back burner that fell behind the stove! I’ll have to remember to write-up a post about it for another time. It’s a beautiful park! I ended up cutting my hike short that day because it was really too hot to be hiking.

These butterflies have, seriously, been everywhere this year. I even noticed them in my yard and while driving. Sitting at a red light the other day, one gently passed on the breeze right in front of me. It’s probably just a coincidence; but it’s a happy, beautiful coincidence that I don’t mind one bit. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Day 180 Grass Spider (Genus Agelenopsis)

Via Flickr:
I noticed this grass spider while filling the bird feeders this afternoon. It built a decent sized funnel-web right outside the computer room window. Given its small size, my guess is that it is a juvenile. Maybe, it will stick around for a while; so I can watch it grow up. These spiders can get pretty big.

I almost stepped on a baby bird today walking out to the feeders! I actually squealed when I saw it because it startled me. I had to laugh at myself. I squatted down to take a closer look and almost got flogged by the momma robin! Oh my goodness, she made quite a fuss. As I quickly walked away, I told her, “Sorry, sorry. I’m leaving!” When I went back outside to photograph the grass spider, she was still fussing at me; and by that point, the fledgling was nowhere to be seen.

When I came back inside from filling the bird feeders, I felt something crawling in my hair and knocked it out with my hand. At first, I thought it was a tick; but it had the prettiest decorative pattern on its back and antennae. Measuring no bigger than 4-5mm, I have no idea what it was. I took this little hitchhiker back outside and managed to get a few photos before it scampered away.

And then later this evening, the neighbor’s grand-kids shared another find with me, some tiny frogs like the ones I saw at Cane Creek Park. Shh, don’t tell them I freed the poor little things when they left the cup behind on my porch. 😉 My motto will always & forever be: A happy critter is a free critter!