Category Archives: Insects

More of the Orb-Weaver Spider

I took this series of photos of the Orb-Weaver Spider just before the single shot that I posted on August 23.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click photo for larger view

Seen at rest most of the time, these spiders can move with speed when lunch is involved, which is what caught my eye.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click photo for larger view and to see thread being spun

The web threads change color with the light, but this day they also had a yellowish coating that may have been pollen. It had just rained and there were a lot of wild flowers growing along the boardwalk.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click photo for larger view and to see thread being spun

Hanging on to her web from her hind legs she used the other legs to manipulate her catch. Other ensnared insects appeared to float in front of the web.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click photo for larger view and to see thread being spun

At one point she was dangling.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click photo for larger view and to see thread being spun

For reference, the entire web was about 3 feet across and that dangling fly was the size of a common house fly.

Powdery Alligator-flag and Friend

I spotted what I now know is a frond of Powdery Alligator-flag (Thalia dealbata) on a walk around the swamp last week. I took a few photographs because of the interesting color and texture. If I had seen the green insect at the time, possibly a member of the katydid family, I would have maneuvered closer for some additional shots.

Powdery alligator-flag and friend
Powdery alligator-flag and friend – click on photo for larger view

I had revisited this plant after my May post with a visiting bee and continued to find it unremarkable throughout the summer. Evidently insects find it more attractive.

Orb-Weaver Spider Weaving Lunch

Quite a few of the Orb-Weaver Spiders have built their webs at an angle to the board walk headed to the swamp making side view photographs a possibility.  It was fascinating to watch this one pluck a fly or bee from the web and then what seemed to be wrapping it in silk.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver
Golden Silk Orb-weaver – click on the photo for a larger view. Zoom in to the center to see the silk attachment from the web

There were some other insects dangling from similar wrappings nearby. These spiders seem much larger than last summer’s crop, but that may be my imagination, or Ted’s, playing tricks on me.

Butterflies

We have seen very few butterflies this summer compared to last year. All insects are sensitive to changes in the weather and climate and in addition to global climate changes, locally the weather has been wetter and stormier than last year. It is hard to know how or if these factors affect what we observe with a two year comparison.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

I watched the Swallowtail flit up and down the berm around an old rice field, always just out of reach of a shot. Then he landed in the road and took a stroll, with short and dainty steps. A photo of him on a flower or in flight would have been nice, but the plain background does set him off.

Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail Butterfly

Click on either photo for larger view.

Close Up Insects

This was my first outdoor try shooting insects with Macro Lenses on my 18-200mm lens.  There is nothing like actually doing something to find out the challenges: a slight breeze, flower stems that swayed when even the smallest insect landed on them, following the insect through the view finder at full zoom…

Dragon Fly Closeup
Dragon Fly Closeup

…the shock of seeing this beast when you were expecting a bee!

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

I have no idea what this is but it was huge. Appearing to hang on for dear life, it didn’t appear to show any other interest in the flower.

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

This bee appears similar to the one featured in my post “A Yellow Fur Jacket” at the end of May, this time on a prettier flower.  There were many buzzing around and  generally did not stay put long enough for me to focus and shoot.

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

Overall I was pleased. A second try last week didn’t work out as well with the insects even less cooperative on a day that was too hot to be trying something new.

Click on any photo for larger view.

Swallowtail on Buttonbush

I’ve been fascinated by the Buttonbush with its round flowers that look like pin cushions. Happy with damp roots, there are a few growing along the boardwalk at the edge of the Magnolia Audubon Swamp within easy range but I’ve only produced ho-hum images.

Swallowtail on Button Bush
Swallowtail on Button Bush

Finally, I got a photo op with a Swallowtail Butterfly.

Swallowtail on Button Bush
Swallowtail on Button Bush

The butterfly edged his way slowly all around this flower, working his legs in between the flower pistils.

Swallowtail on Button Bush
Swallowtail on Button Bush

Upside down he gave a nice view of the underside of his wing.

Swallowtail on Button Bush
Swallowtail on Button Bush

Click on any photo for larger view.

Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider

We had been told by many locals last summer when we first started visiting the swamp that the Orb, aka Banana, Spiders were nothing to worry about. They seldom make their web across the trail and don’t jump onto humans. Sure enough, their season passed without incident, but I still don’t like to get too close.

This year’s batch is now very active building webs and it was interesting watching this female spinning her silk.

Golden Orb Spider
Golden Orb Spider weaving her web – click photo for larger view

Back and forth, hanging upside down and pulling herself along very methodically, she added a new row to the top of this web.

Golden Orb Spider
Golden Orb Spider weaving her web – click photo for larger view

The strands appeared to be different colors as the web swayed in the light.

Golden Orb Spider
Golden Orb Spider weaving her web – click photo for larger view

In another web down the trail the smaller male and the female may have been getting ready to mate. The female eats the male when she is done with him. I didn’t stay to watch.

Golden Orb Spider
Golden Orb Spiders – click photo for larger view

Dragonflies

Growing up I was terrified of these creatures that we called darning needles. Stories were passed from kid to kid about your lips getting sewn shut. Swearing might have been required to invoke the sewing activity but I never saw any kid so inflicted.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly on stump – click photo for larger view

Now I know that the dragonflies eat bugs so I’m happy to have them around. The ones we see in South Carolina are much prettier than the ones I remember in Maine, but that may be a trick of time.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly on stick- click photo for larger view

Sometimes they land right on the duck weed but more often take advantage of the other pond plants.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly perched over duck weed – click photo for larger view

A Yellow Fur Jacket

I don’t know the plant or the insect.  Rather pretty up close, the insect has a furry looking yellow jacket, but is not what I think of as a “Yellow Jacket.” The small flowers are on tall stalks growing in standing water at the edge of a swampy area.

Bee on a Flower
Bee on a Flower – click photo for larger view

The insect must have been getting some nourishment satisfaction or good taste because he kept at it, going round and round the plant.

Bee on a Flower
Bee on a Flower – click photo for larger view

Except for the purple highlights on the leaves, the plant is not particularly attractive to look at. I should go back in a week or so and see what it might have transformed into.

Bee on a Flower
Bee on a Flower showing a shiny “bald” spot between his wings- click photo for larger view

Swallowtail Butterfly Brightens a Dull Day

We’ve had a run of dull days, no sun and lots of rain. There was a gap in the storms this morning and we took the opportunity to get out even though conditions weren’t optimal. This Swallowtail Butterfly posed for some low light shots.

Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail Butterfly – click photo for larger view

He very nicely turned around the flower exposing his underside to the camera.

Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail Butterfly – click photo for larger view

And kept on turning for a nice side view of his proboscis at work.

Swallowtail Butterfly
Swallowtail Butterfly – click photo for larger view

The rain started again shortly after bringing an end to this meal.