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White Mountains   Leave a comment

An amazing hike. Ethan Pond to Zeeland Falls, Zeecliff, Thoreau Falls, and more. Three wonderful days, even if one of them was all Tropical Storm Elsa all day all the time. Some photos (without people, as always 🙂 ).

From Ethan Pond to Zeeland Falls

Thoreau Falls

Posted 2021-07-13 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Macro photos near home   2 comments

Further adventures with the Laowa 24mm macro probe lens.

Rose thorns:

A beetle in Lycidae. The apposite word is aposematism.

Lycidae beetle

Posted 2021-07-05 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Devil’s Brook splashing   2 comments

I’ve been posting a *lot* of flowing water photos. This set is a twist on that genre that I’ve never really seen done before.

My issue with a lot of time exposure photos of flowing water is that they’re a long enough exposure to completely smooth out the flow, creating an illusion of utter calmness, but hiding the vitality and boisterousness of the flow. The little droplets playing around are what cause this, but they don’t usually come out in a photo — the eye can register smaller details that hide from most cameras. This has to be recorded by the right shutter time: too slow, as mentioned, smooths everything out, while too fast freezes everything. I want a sort of impressionistic feel to the photos, where you can recognize individual elements but also see that they’re in motion. Showing motion isn’t always easy in a still photo!

As mentioned, I recently bought a Laowa 24mm macro probe lens. This has a few unique properties: it’s a macro lens that can focus with a few millimeters of the subject; it’s very narrow; it’s waterproof. I decided to try to take closeup photos of the stream, and especially places where the smooth, laminar flow becomes chaotic and turbulent. It may be useful (or not) to realize that these are mostly Straight Out Of Camera photos.

In addition, when I take this kind of photo, I especially like to establish an “anchor” in the photo: something that clearly belongs to the solid world, to play off the time exposure, so the photo lands in the zone somewhere between representative and abstract.

There ended up being so many possible photos it was difficult to choose. It seemed almost blasphemous to discard so many, as if rejecting nature’s creativity, but there’s only so much space!

Let’s see if these photos are successful! Let’s start off with a view of the area I took most of the photos, to provide some context while you see the more abstract ones. In that little snap, there lie worlds.

This one was taken completely underwater, of the bubbles in the turbulence under the surface:

Posted 2021-07-05 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Carlisle Cranberry bog conservation area   Leave a comment

My first nighttime blacklighting for moths — mercury vapor lamp shining on a bedsheet. So many moth photos, and I can’t identify them very well, so I’m going to concentrate on non-moths.

Diptera

Limoniid crane fly?

Look at all the mites:

Toxomerus marginatus hanky-panky:

Hemiptera

Amphiaretus obscuriceps, a pirate bug. Introduced from Asia, first record in USA 1983.

Could by Gyponana.

My guess is Meadow Spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius.

Neuroptera

Probably a brown lacewing. Neuroptera –> Hemerobiidae. Perhaps Hemerobius?

Coleoptera

I think this is a rove beetle, Staphylinidae.

Carabidae, ground beetle.

Podabrus in Cantharidae?

Stenolophus lineola, in Carbidae.

Maybe –maybe! – Paratenetus in Tenebrionidae.

Dystiscid, I think:

Hydrochus genus, in Hydrophilidae. A new family for me!

Perhaps Phyllophaga, in Scarabaeidae? In other news, I’ve discovered that I’ve been spelling it wrong all this time. I *think* legs like this are found in Scarabaeidae.

Another Dystiscid?

Trichoptera

Caddisfly:

Corydalidae

Gorgeous fishfly

Hymenoptera

Ophion?

Another Ophion? This one was smaller?

Lepidoptera

Okay, *some* moths. But really, there were so many, and I’m so bad at identifying them, it’s tough to choose other than by aesthetics.

Plume moth:

No exoskeletons!

Posted 2021-06-26 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Canoe River power line cut; Greeley pond   2 comments

Hymenoptera

Bombus: bumble bee

Sweat bee, Halictidae. Halictus ligatus?

Looks to me like Ceratina, Carpenter bees. For Massachusetts in June, all I see in BugGuide are subgenus Zadontomerus.

Andrena?

I haven’t been able to convince myself of any of the possible choices for this one. Maybe, just maybe, Lasioglossum? I’m not too sanguine about that. EDIT: could be Hylaeus, too.

Hylaeus modestus? In Colletidae.

Eumeninae (potter and mason wasps). Parancistrocerus cf perennis? Euodynerus cf hidalgo? My guess is the first.

Ceratina, as evidenced by the more muted green color and the white behind the head.

What the hell is going on here??? The first two photos show a fairly normal hymenopteran, but the third…!

EDIT: Identified as the sawfly Xiphydria. Maybe they all just look like this all the time?

What is going on here??

Encyrtidae:

Pteromalidae:

Maybe Chrysididae? Such as Holopyga or Hedychrum?

Eulophidae:

Orthoptera

Grasshopper nymph. Takes a wiser man than me to figure out what kind it is from a photo at this age.

Hemiptera

Small milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii, in Lygaeidae.

Mating!

Pachygronthidae –> Seed bug, Phlegyas abbreviatus

Derbid planthopper, Cedusa cf maculata (compare https://bugguide.net/node/view/1902766)?

Coreidae eggs:

Lepidoptera

“The first two are Scythris species. Assuming they are both the same species, I would suggest S. fuscicomella, although there are two other possible species. S. fuscicomella has thickened antennae, which I think this does. We have only a single record of this species for Massachusetts – from Hyde Park in 1910! The other two possible species have also not been found in the State since the first half of the last century”

Trichoptera

Coleoptera

Agrilus ruficollis, red-necked cane borer, Buprestidae. Don’t see a Norfolk county, Massachusetts report of this, but they’re not rare.

Cryptorhopalum triste in Dermestidae, were all over the place on the flowers.

Bad angle. Carabidae? Something like Stenolophus cf ochropezus? Agonum albicrus looks better. Amphasia seems to have rufous legs/antennae. Apristus looks similar-ish. I should stop now.

Elateridae. I do not dare go any further.

Cantharidae –> Rhagonycha?

Mordellidae, tumbling beetles. Looks like Mordella marginata.

Diptera

Excited to catch them flying!

Syrphid fly, looks like Sphaerophoria

Arachnida

Cesonia bilineata in Gnaphosidae

Dictynidae

Beautiful mite! Balaustium, Erythraeidae.

Thomisidae. Xysticus? Xysticus vs Bassaniana is tough.

Asagena americana in Theridiidae.

Opiliones, aka Harvestman. Leiobunum vittatum, I think.

No arthropods!

These galls look something like Aculops rhois galls (Eriophyidae, mites).

Posted 2021-06-19 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Wasp and Jumping Spider   Leave a comment

I haven’t been able to go out for a while. But I work from home near the porch, giving the insects the opportunity to drop by and distract me.

This wasp, I think, is Vespula vidua (the widow yellowjacket). That means there’s a yellowjacket nest near by. I’m fine with that — they are genuinely fascinating.

Then there’s this girl. I’ve seen her regularly when I step out onto the porch. She’s a Platycryptus undatus and I’ve named her Grizzlee. Not sure why the white balance got so red, by the way.

Posted 2021-06-04 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Canoe River, Foxboro   3 comments

Walking along the powerline cut near Canoe River, Foxboro. Fantastic day for insects and spiders!

First, Diptera:

Conopidae, perhaps Myopa sp.

Lauxania in Lauxaniidae:

“Unmarked wings with very simple veination pretty much rules out Anisopodidae. Sciaroidea, I’d say, but not Mycetophilidae; Cecidomyiidae would be my guess, but it’s truly a guess.”

Sciaridae

Hymenoptera:

An ant alate?

Halictidae. Maybe Lasioglossum (subgenus Dialictus)? Don’t really know how to distinguish from Augochlora.

Pompilidae, Priocnemis minorata seems to be the only one registered in Massachusetts in May.

Another Lasioglossum?

Another Priocnemis minorata?

Looks like Sphecodes:

I caught a Sphecodes in flight!

I CAUGHT A SPHECODES IN FLIGHT!

I really don’t know how to tell Augochlorini from Lasioglossum.

Cynipidae?

Coleoptera:

Dermestidae: Cryptorhopalum cf triste

Cerambicidae! (I initially thought Staphylinidae). Molorchus bimaculatus.

Cryptorhopalum cf triste again

Chrysomelidae: Sumitrosis inaequalis

I spent a lot of time trying to see who was digging this whole but she never came out so it’s a mystery!

EDIT: Lytta sp. in Meloidae

Hemiptera:

Isthmocoris piceus actually looks like a better fit, in Geocoridae. I first thought it was Salda in Saldidae. Compare with https://bugguide.net/node/view/1217135

Zelus luridus nymph, always charismatic.

Thysanoptera:

My first Thrips!!! But couldn’t find a good match. Aeolothrips, if I was forced to guess.

Spiders:

Habronattus

Pelegrina proterva.

A special place in my heart for Leucauge venusta!

Posted 2021-05-16 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Phidippus audax visits the house   2 comments

Trying to capture the beautiful color of the chelicerae, but it didn’t come out right in the photos.

Posted 2021-05-12 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Borderland State Park   2 comments

First bug walk of the season (as opposed to the vernal pool and the wetlands). I spent a lot of time (too much time) creating many, many candidate flash diffusers. Today was the first actual trial.

Plenty of insects and spiders!

Diptera:

My guess: Hexomyza schineri in Agromyzidae. However, I’m told that it could plausibly be many others that are acalypterate.

Lonchaeidae

Bibionid

Who is this? I was about to call it Bibio longipes — and then discovered that that is found only in fall. Maybe something like Bibio femoratus?

Anthomyidae, cf Anthomyia.

Another Bibio cf femorata?

Such a striking fly, probably Agromyzidae.

Male Bibionidae?

Hymenoptera:

A mutillid wasp. Pseudomethoca simillima?

Cynipid wasp

Nomada luteoloides?

Probably Andrena.

Coleoptera:

The requisite six spotted green tiger beetle:

Notiophilus cf biguttatus

False blister beetle, Asclera ruficollis, in Oedemeridae? Or Podabrus punctatus? I *think* it’s Asclera ruficollis. But Pedilus lugubris is another possibility. Okay, now I’m going with Pedilus lugubris.

EDIT: according to BugGuide, Silinae in Cantharidae is the best starting point.

“Anthonomus, I believe, either A. suturalis or A. musculus.”

Elateridae. Maybe Dolerosomus silaceus?

Tarpela micans. For some reason, I only seem to see dead ones.

Spiders:

This beautiful Lycosid. Pardosa sp.

Naphrys pulex. Except that it might be a Pseudeuophrys erratica, which I’m just learning about — introduced from Europe. Or Habronatus?

Thanatus, in Philodromidae.

Solsticus insularis? Haplodrassus cf hiemalis? Callilepis pluto? Urozelotes isn’t confirmed in BugGuide near here, but I’ve seen it suggested (https://bugguide.net/node/view/1791543) for Massachusetts, so maybe this is that?

EDIT: Zelotinae looks good, but classifying any finer is highly questionable.

Opiliones (aka Harvestman):

Some scenery:

Posted 2021-05-02 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized

Moose Hill boardwalk   Leave a comment

Second foray with the new Laowa 24mm macro probe lens, using its ability to explore underwater. Instead of a vernal pool, focused on the area around the boardwalk. It becomes a swamp or a pool during spring melt, but does dry up at other times of the year.

The inside of a skunk cabbage that had been submerged by the spring melt:

Is this spirogyra?

Mosquito larva:

This beetle (which looks BB8 from Star Wars) is Desmopachria, in the tribe Hyphydrini, subfamily Hydroporinae, family Dytiscidae. I’m excited because it’s the first BugGuide report of this tribe and genus in Massachusetts — my third taxon that I have a state first (Dolichurus and Podium luctuosum are the two others).

I think this spider is Erigoninae, in Linyphiidae. It had fallen in the water, but managed to successfully get out. Going down to genus or species is very difficult, but Walckenaeria communis is a good fit, for whatever that’s worth. For example, compare with https://bugguide.net/node/view/379912.

The abdomen looks shiny from that angle, but in this photo you can see the hairs:

So many tiny springtails all over the place. It turns out that these are Sminthurides malmgreni, and that makes it the first report in BugGuide/iNat of this species anywhere in the USA. There’s another report in British Columbia, though. Combined with the Desmopachria (see below), that makes my fourth taxon that’s a first for Massachusetts.

Water mite, Hydrachnidia, with a springtail photo-bombing, as springtails do.

I saw a cluster of debris, that seemed to move when there was no current. Hmm. Then I saw another one, and another. After the fourth or fifth, it finally dawned on me that I was seeing caddisfly larvae. I’m not always the sharpest guy around.

They’re gorgeous and fascinating!

Here you can see the caddisfly larva emerging from the casing:

Water skimmer. Gerris sp? Need to rule out Aquarius cf remigis.

BugGuide: “Gerris: connexival spines not prominent, metatibia <3.3 as long as metatarsomere 1″. Whatever that means!

“Aquarius: hind tibia at least 4 times as long as metatarsomere 1; connexival spines prominent; pronotum dull; antennomere 1 more than 0.9 as long as antennomeres 2+3; adults winged or wingless”

Underwater plant, smooth and silky.

Salamander eggs. Note the gel completely surrounding the egg mass. Probably Ambystoma genus, Spotted Salamander egg clutch. Note that Jefferson salamanders do not come this far East, and blue-spotted salamander egg clutches are not this big.

A water beetle with distinctive markings. Haliplus, in Haliplidae (crawling water beetles).

another view, more of the dorsal pattern:

I’m including this information here, so I can search for it later. How to distinguish Gladicosa gulosa from Schizocosa:

This species in the particular is tough to distinguish from Schizocosa, but generally speaking, the stripe on the prosoma fans out slightly right around the eyes of Schizocosa. In Gladicosa, the PLEs visibly “cinch” the stripe in.
To illustrate:
https://bugguide.net/node/view/1950185/bgimage

https://bugguide.net/node/view/1795131/bgimage

Also: “You’ll also notice the overall shape of the prosoma in Schizocosa is rounder.”

Posted 2021-04-04 by gaurav1729 in Uncategorized