I mentioned how impressed I was with the numbers of insects using the endangered Northern Blazing Star boom on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in southern Maine this week. Here are 4 leps (to add to the White-lined Sphinx Moth posted earlier). Painted Lady, Common Wood-nymph, Monarch, and what I think is a Wandering Gem moth. Something very Gem like anyway. The moth was tiny…it just covered the tip of my finger. Sony RX10iv at 600 and 1200mm equivalent (1200 at 2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
My friend Stef and I took a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area yesterday to take in, among other things, the last of the Northern Blazing Star bloom. Blazing Star is endangered in Maine and the Plains are one of its last strongholds. I was reminded just how important a resource it is. Besides flocks of busy Goldfinches and Pine Warblers, the Blazing Star along Day Brook Pond was full of insects…butterflies and moths and bees and flies. When I first saw this White-lined Sphinx Moth I took it for one of the Clearwings. I have seen both Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings working the Blazing Star in the past. A closer look showed that despite similar size and behavior, this was a different moth. No transparent wings. I had to look it up when I got home. The White-lined Sphinx, like many Hawk moths, is mostly nocturnal, and mostly seen early and late, during dawn and dusk, so I can be forgiven for assuming it was a Clearwing. If I remember correctly, my only other sighting was years ago by artificial light on our back deck, feeding on the potted plants we keep there, when I, like many others, called it a Hummingbird Moth because of its size and behavior. (That name actually belongs to the Clearwing.) The White-lined Sphinx Moth occupies a huge range, all of North America and parts of Central America, and there are apparently known populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This one was very cooperative, working the same patch of Blazing Star for 15 minutes or more, and coming in close enough for lots of photos, before zooming off in search of a new patch of flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We saw hundreds, maybe even a thousand, of these spectacular migrating moths while in Panama. They were everywhere, from the Continental Divide at 4000 feet, to flying out over the bays of Bocas del Toro at sea level. It is the Urania Swallowtail Moth…a moth, despite looking very like a green and black swallowtail butterfly, and despite flying during the day. Of the huge number I saw, this is one of only two I saw perched. The other was at night on the ceiling of my cabin porch, next to the porch light. Interestingly, by the light of my flashlight or the flash on my camera (and I suspect any light striking the back of the moth near the perpendicular) the “green” is bright metallic gold.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. ISO 800 @ 1/250 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.
I have not been to Timber Point for many weeks and yesterday seemed like a good day, so… I got as far as a wonderful hay meadow full of Knapweed and other wildflowers, where I stopped to add to my “If Monet had lived in Maine” series of painterly meadow shots. While shooting the meadow I found many male Bobolinks singing from perches in the tall grass and flowers, so I went back to the car for my Nikon P900 and its long lens…only to discover that I had grabbed the wrong camera bag on the way out the door. My Nikon was still at home. 🙁 So there I was on a photoprowl with just my Sony HX90V and its 30x zoom. I know…it was only 4 years ago that 30x was the absolute limit of the superzoom world. I have to admit I am totally spoiled by the 83x, 2000mm equivalent zoom on the Nikon P900. Still, it was too far to go back, so I spent the morning pushing the limits of the HX90V and enjoying every moment of it.
After many Monet-like shots in the meadow, and, yes, a few of the Bobolinks with the HX90V’s zoom pushed out to 1440mm equivalent with 2x Clear Image Zoom, I went on to Timber Point. Unexpectedly fog was rolling across the point. Yes well…best laid plans and all that. You take what your get in photoprowls and as in life. I caught sight of this creature in the grasses near the point and could not get a pic, but there it was again in the deep shade along the boardwalk, working the Meadowsweet on the way back. I did my best to photograph it, and took many exposures. I honestly had no idea what it was, but it was an easy search on Google when I got back. I mean, how many orange-headed, blue bodied, moths can there be in Maine? Turns out: just one 🙂
Virginia Ctenucha is a common diurnal moth across the northern states and Canada, currently expanding its range all the way to the west coast in Canada. No one knows whether the nominal specimen was actually collected in Virginia, but Virginia is the extreme southern range of the moth, if it exists there at all. It is much more common further north. And I will cheerfully admit I have no idea how to pronounce the name…I could find no guidance on the web. Ctenucha. Either the C or the T must be mostly silent, or you must fake a vowel…as in “si ten u cha”. Anyway. Really interesting creature.
Sony HX90V at 720mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 125 @ f6.4. Cropped and processed in Lightroom.
I first saw this creature at the National Butterfly Center among the butterflies that also frequent the Mist Bush. This shot is from the butterfly gardens at the Bentsen Rio Grande State Park World Birding Center Visitor Center. I thought it was a wasp. It looks like a wasp, but like no wasp I have seen. A wasp in fancy dress? Art deco wasp? Clown wasp? Like maybe a wasp from somewhere far south of the border where they are not afraid to flash bright colors? A tropicana wasp? Take another look.
And then, while researching the White-tipped Black Moth that I also photographed at the NBC, using some photo keys to moths of the Rio Grande Valley, I found that there are moths that do not look my idea of a moth at all. When it came to identifying this bug, I thought of those odd moths I had seen, and typed “wasp like moth Rio Grande” into a Google search. Texas Wasp Moth came right up on top.
What an outrageous creature! I mean, look at those disco booties and the way too colorful feet…and what what is with the matching orange and black stripes? Then consider the totally unnecessary white accents, and the frivolous bright yellow tips on the antennas? Who designed this thing? 🙂
Canon SX50HS in Program with -1/3rd EV exposure compensation and iContrast. 1800mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
And for the Sunday Thought: Well we are already started on it. Who designed this thing? Who has sufficient whimsy? Who has that kind of sense of humor…because I know this bug makes me laugh. And the fact that it is not even a wasp at all, but a harmless moth in an over-the-top costume, well that just caps it. I might have trouble getting by the stinging wasp thing, but as a moth, this is just a wonderful, amazing, delightful creature. Or that is what I think.
And of course I know, rationally, that it was not designed for my amusement or delight. But that whole beleaving, faith-based, seeing-wonders, wonderfilled side of me has to suspect that it was designed for someone’s amusement and delight. It is such a good joke! Too good a joke to have happened without intent. A lovely joke! A joke created and delivered with love. A living joke, that can only have come from the heart and the mind…from the loving intent of the creator of life. Or that is what I think. And thinking that makes me happy. I enjoy being able to share the joke…the delight…the wonder…the whimsy of the Texas Wasp Moth…with its author…and with you.
Now come on…doesn’t this non-wasp bug just make you simile! That is a good thing. Or that is what I think. 🙂
I spent several hours yesterday at Massachusetts Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary being the ZEISS guy for their yearly Optics Fair. Mostly I was talking optics but I did take them to chase down this interesting moth when it flew by.
At first I thought it was a particularly yellow Hummingbird Moth…or “Hummingbird Clearwing Moth” more properly…but further study shows it as the closely related Snowberry Clearwing. It was quite large: 2 inches tip to tail and with a 2 inch wingspan. Quite a creature!
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Program and Macro, with Intelligent Zoom to about 600mm equivalent field of view at 10 mega pixels. Processed in Snapseed on the Nexus 7. Cropped for scale.
I don’t know the name of this wildflower from the German Forest at the edge of Bavaria, or of the tiny moth. I will research them more when I get home to a stable internet connection. Both are attractive and the combination is even more so. Or that is what I think 🙂
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in macro mode. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4.
I was really hoping, when I took the photo, that this blue pond plant had a lovely name, like Water Hyacinth, and that the bug was, as I originally assumed, a Skipper, so I could have a euphonious title (I head the word “euphonious” on a British TV comedy this week…and I have been, apparently, looking for a excuse to use it :). “Skipper on Water Hyacinth”. Now that is euphonious!
Unfortunately in the interest of accuracy, this is just common Pickerelweed, but, as some compensation, it is a Powder Moth of some kind…so we have some nice alliteration to contribute to a mellifluous title, even if it is not truly euphonious (yes, I have been at the thesaurus trying to find the spelling of euphonious. I always enjoy a little thesauric browsing before breakfast).
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F. Program and Macro focus (as opposed to the Macro Mode). I used Intelligent Zoom which increases the normal 18x zoom on the camera and maintains image quality by reducing the number of pixels captured at higher zoom ratios. This was a 10mp image (down from the native 14mp) at something in the 500mm equivalent field of view range. I then cropped it slightly for increased image scale. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.
The helpful folks at Project Noah’s Maine Moths Mission identified my moth as the Power Moth (Eufidonia notataria). Project Noah is an internet based network of nature observers who submit “spottings” of wildlife of all kinds, including photos and location information, from bugs to bears. When you post a spotting, it is simple to check the “help with this identification” button. Under Project Noah there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of “missions”…targeted requests for spottings of a particular kind for a particular region. The Maine Moths Mission is one of them, and it seemed an obvious place to look for an id of a moth I had never seen before. I had the id within an hour of posting. (Project Noah has mobile apps for both iPhone and Android as well as the website… search for “Project Noah” in your app store.)
I could find little information on the moth itself, beyond its name and place in the scientific order. I still have no idea how it lives or why it lives. But it is, to my eye, a beautiful creature, from the lacy pattern on the wings to the fringe at the wing edges. The fact that it is on Meadowsweet, one of my favorite trail-side flowers of this season, is a distinct bonus, and, in the case of this image, adds to the beauty of the composition.
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Smart Auto…macro mode. 24mm equivalent field of view. f3.2 @ 1/500th @ ISO 100. Cropped for composition and scale and processed on the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in PicSay Pro. Auto Enhanced by Google+.
And for the Sunday Thought. The Samsung WB250F was a pure indulgence. I love my Canon SX50HS and I could just as well have taken this image with the Canon. I did not need another camera. But I am certainly having fun with it! As a piece of photographic technology it is amazing…from its Smart Auto modes, to its excellent “no tripod required” in-camera HDR and dedicated Macro and Panorama modes. Fun. As a piece of connected technology it is even more amazing. With the touch of a few controls I can wirelessly transfer the images to my Galaxy S4 for processing and sharing (or I can do limited processing right in-camera, and upload them directly to Facebook or Google+ Photos, or email them to myself). I can share a fully processed image in a matter of moments after it is taken. From wherever I have phone service. Amazing. And so much fun!
Project Noah I just discovered yesterday while researching my Powder Moth. What an idea! A national network of dedicated nature observers and photographers feeding sighting data on all kinds of life into a central data-base where they…and the whole scientific community…can have easy and instant access. And the concept of Missions, to focus the collections, is brilliant. We are on a mission to record all the Moths of Maine. Yes. I can identify with that! And think of the possibilities. With the mobile app, you can upload an image of whatever you see and enjoy quick (if not instant) help from hundreds of enthusiasts and many experts. The day of “I don’t know” is fading fast. What I don’t know is now out there in cloud, just waiting for me to access it. My mind no longer ends at my own senses and my own experience and memory. I can almost instantly tap into the knowledge of thousands of other keen observers, stretching back a generation or more.
Of course, at times, I will only find the limits of what we, as a species of observers, know, or have shared. What does the Powder Moth eat…well, whoever knows that…if anyone does…has not made that available in the cloud just yet. 🙂 (Or not that I can find.)
And what does this all have to do with the spirit? It is the Sunday thought after all. The technology of the connected cloud is giving us a taste, right in the world of time and space, of what we experience in the spirit, behind the world of time and space. It is the core experience of the mystical in all religions…and the root of faith. We are all one. All one mind. All one experience. All one love of life and eagerness to learn and to share. And yet we are totally individual. One eye (I) in the eye (I) of all.
We are the namers of creation. We are the numberers. We are the mind that sees and shares. And we are each one and one in all. And even a technology assisted taste of that is a good thing! Happy Sunday!
On my Tuesday photopowl I had to make a stop at the grocery store. When I came back out I found this Polyphemus moth lying helpless on its side on the sidewalk near the bicycle rack where had chained up my electric scooter. This is a big moth…6 inches from wing-tip to wing-tip.
I thought it might be dead, but when I picked it up, and put it on my scooter seat for safety while I decided what to do with it (and how I could get some pictures), it fluttered down on its own energy. It was clearly weak and disorientated (perhaps stunned from an impact, and/or confused by the daylight) and had difficulty getting off its side. However, when I moved it to the shade under some trees at the edge of the parking lot, it righted itself and vibrated its wings very rapidly. I think that was a defense action. After grabbing a few shots, I moved it to deeper vegetation well back from the parking lot, where it was darker, and where there was no chance it would be stepped on by a passing shopper.
Polyphemus, like most of the big moths, do not eat as adults and only live two weeks at the longest. It is, of course, possible, even likely, that this Polyphemus was simply on its last legs anyway, and did not survive the night. In the slightly closer view you can see the very bushy antennas, which mark this specimen as a male.
Canon SX40HS. Program with iContrast and –1 EV exposure compensation. 1) 24mm macro, plus 1.5x digital tel-converter function. f4 @ 1/160th @ ISO 100. 2) 1240mm equivalent. f5.8 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 250.
Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.