Category: Invertebrates

2012

So, 2012 has been pretty crazy. I started the year in Europe, where I had the opportunity to take a geometric morphometrics course and collect data for my master’s thesis. I applied to, and was accepted to a Ph.D. program in Lincoln, Nebraska … and, at the end of the year, I’ve decided to quit the program in order to take time off and focus on myself, because I’m really not sure that grad school is what I want to do with my life.

Oh, and I managed to take some photos during that time. Here are a few of my favorites from the year. I think that I’ve learned and improved a lot over the last twelve months.

Owl Butterfly
Owl Butterfly
Great Plains Rat Snake
Great Plains Rat Snake
Jumping Spider
Jumping Spider
Fiery Skipper
Fiery Skipper
Ringneck Snake
Ringneck Snake

Next year promises to be even more exciting, as I’m going to Australia. I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I remember, and I’m really excited to go. I’m going to be living in western Queensland for at least a few months , working and taking pictures of the local fauna. Afterwards, I hope to spend some time up north, for rainforests and crocodiles, and then spend some time in Sydney and the south of the country in the Spring and Summer. I’m looking forward to discovering a whole new continent of reptiles and arthropods. :)

I want to be somebody’s buddy

Today, I bought some fresh lavender at the market, because fresh lavender is probably one of the best things in the universe, and also it was on sale, so that was pretty much inarguable. When I got home, I discovered that I had apparently purchased a small friend in addition to fresh flowers.

Crab Spider
Crab Spider

This is a crab spider (family Thomisidae). They’re ambush predators who hide around fruit and flowers, waiting to nab visiting insects.

I am not sure how much prey he’s going to manage to catch inside my apartment, so I’m letting him go outside, even though I was pretty excited to find him.

Photo Details
Konica Minolta Pro Automatic 35mm F2.8 Lens reverse-mounted with 20mm extension tube on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/22, 1/100 sec
Diffuse flash in whitebox
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Big Damn Spider

Wolf Spider
Wolf Spider

I believe that this is Hogna helluo, although I am by no means a spider expert. I found her while I was out trying to shoot some Acris this evening … which didn’t really work out as well as I hoped, but as long as I get something good out of it, I’m not complaining.

Edit: This is indeed H. helluo, at least according to my highly knowledgeable office mate whose dissertation work is on these spiders.

Photo Details
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/16, 1/100 sec
Diffuse flash in whitebox
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

I just really like paper wasps, okay?

Don’t judge me.

Common Paper Wasp
Common Paper Wasp

I find this picture incredibly hilarious. No, wasp, stinging the paper won’t actually solve your problems. In fact, since your problems are mostly that some large, obnoxious primate has captured you, shoved you in a box and keeps flashing bright lights in your face, it might actually make them worse, because the large, obnoxious primate finds your behavior charming.

Polistes exclamans, at least I think so … feel free to correct me if she’s really something else.

I am not sure what it says about my apartment that this is the fourth species of paper wasp that I’ve seen outside. (Polistes dominula is coming to a blog near you, as soon as I can catch one!) Possibly it says that my apartment is awesome. Or full of caterpillars.

Photo Details
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens with 36mm extension tube on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/18, 1/100 sec
Diffuse flash in whitebox
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Some Nebraska Natives

I’m moving to Nebraska in August, which means that I should be spending my last months in Texas herping, because the pickings are a lot slimmer up north. But, instead, one of my friends invited me to come up to his Permian paleontological field site in Nebraska this weekend. And since I’ll be doing a Ph.D. in a vertebrate paleontology lab starting in the Fall, I figured that it was probably a good idea to start to familiarize myself with some of the fossil sites in the state. I was spectacularly useless at quarrying things, but I had a good time, and killed a lot of ticks that were trying to suck my blood, so it was overall a productive weekend.

And I took pictures of things! Because that’s who I am, or something.

Lined Snake
Lined Snake

This is a lined snake, Tripidoclonion lineatum. It was a lifer for me, which is pretty awesome (especially from Nebraska, geeze).

Cope's Gray Tree Frog
Cope’s Gray Tree Frog

I am also pretty excited by the fact that this is the first gray tree frog that I’ve been able to narrow down to species. Hyla chrysoscelis and H. versicolor are basically distinguishable only from their calls, which can make IDing them pretty tough. However, since we found this little guy while he was calling, I can tell you that he is, in fact chrysoscelis, and not versicolor. And then the internet informed me that versicolor doesn’t even make it in to Nebraska, but I nonetheless felt all herpetologically talented for IDing a frog based on a call.

Dogbane Beetle
Dogbane Beetle

And here’s something with an exoskeleton, to keep you entomophiles quiet. This was probably one of the most annoying things that I have ever photographed — I was dealing with the fact that this beetle was both extraordinarily iridescent, and extraordinarily filthy, which meant that my flash was basically useless. I ended up relying primarily on natural light for this shot, although I did use a little bit of off-camera flash to brighten things up. Not a fun picture. But I did bring the beetle back with me, so I may try to clean him up and white box him later.

Photo Details

Lined Snake
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/10, 1/160 sec
Diffuse flash
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/13, 1/160 sec
Diffuse flash
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Dogbane Beetle
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 400 at f/10, 1/160 sec
Off-camera diffuse flash
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Baby Salticid

I am pretty sure that this jumping spider spiderling (or maybe just a jumping spiderling?) is the smallest thing I’ve ever taken a picture of.

Jumping Spider
Jumping Spider

Photo Details

Konica Minolta Pro Automatic 35mm F2.8 Lens reverse-mounted with 36mm extension tube on a Canon T1i Rebel
ISO 100 at f/22, 1/160 sec
Diffuse flash in whitebox
Image editing in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Fort Worth Botanic Garden: Fauna

Today, I went to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. If you are ever in or around Fort Worth, this is a place you should go. It is full of plants, and almost all of the gardens there are free (except for the Japanese Garden, where you have to pay $4.50 to get in, and the amazing indoor conservatory, which will cost you a dollar, and is totally worth it). It’s also a great place for bug watching, since the flowers draw a lot of interesting pollinators, and they have a lot of diverse, arthropod friendly habitat. It’s also apparently not a bad place for city herping, since I heard some calling cricket frogs and spotted two green anoles and a blotched water snake while wandering through the gardens. (They’ve also got red-eared sliders everywhere, but turtles are not exciting herpetofauna, so I wasn’t that excited to see them.)

All in all, it was a pretty great day.

Bridge in the Japanese Garden
Bridge in the Japanese Garden

I could not take a landscape photo to save my life. Fortunately for all of us, that’s not why you’re here. (I hope.)

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