Tag Archive | photography

Hymenoptera through the day

IMG_7050

Bombus vosnesenskii, probably the most common bumblebee in Vancouver.

Here are a series of images I shot during the course of a summer day in Vancouver. All are hymenopterans, which, in addition to being tasty, are of course the best insects out there.

IMG_7045

A nest I uncovered of Myrmica specioides, a recent introduction on the West Coast.

IMG_7101

A big Megachilid.

IMG_7154

Myrmica rubra against the sky (bribed with a bit of honey).

IMG_7182

I have always wanted to get a shot of one of these chrysidid beauties. I believe it is Pseudomalus auratus.

IMG_7191

IMG_7221

A gorgeous Philanthus beewolf, showing just how much they really do love flowers.

IMG_7266

A queen and workers of Myrmica rubra, the European Fire Ant.

IMG_7280

Myrmica rubra tending aphids, a few of which appear to be mummies.

IMG_7301

Ammophila wasps at sunset, shot with the 300 mm lens.

IMG_7363

Weekend Expedition 54: Burns Bog and Centennial Beach

IMG_6782

This past weekend, The Spider Crew (Sam Evans, Catherine Scott, Samantha Vibert and Gwylim Blackburn) and I set out to find an elusive and rare gnaphosid in the vast wetness of Burns Bog. Gnaphosa snohomish is supposed to be the only peatland specialist gnaphosid in Canada, and was a great reason to go out to the bog.

IMG_8157

Believe it or not, we all piled into Daisy, a 1984 Toyota Tercel on loan from Sofi Hindmarch. Yeah, it’s got a hemi!

IMG_8167

Samantha examines some riparian flowers on the walk in.

IMG_6656

IMG_6710

The Labrador Tea was fragrant and abundant.

IMG_6699

The wild blueberries were in full swing!

IMG_6717

IMG_6807

I liked the way the fern was projected on this skunk cabbage.

IMG_6778

In the bog proper, there was evidence of spiders. This belongs to a Hahniid, which Catherine will cover in an upcoming post.

IMG_6707

A very odd construction indeed. An egg sac?

IMG_6732

Sam managed to find a jumper on some blueberries.

IMG_6761

and a crab as well.

IMG_6791

Under the trees, in rotted logs, amaurobiids were common.

IMG_6796

Interestingly, they seem to show a curious “legs up” posture when blown on. We had seen a similar reaction among Ctenids in Honduras.

IMG_6805

An Uloborid with its amazing silk trap set.

IMG_6785

A gorgeous linyphiid on her web. Check out her weird epigynum!

IMG_6782

IMG_8174

Samantha and Catherine consult the primary literature in the field. The article in question is: Bennett, R. G., S. M. Fitzpatrick & J. T. Troubridge. Redescription of the rare ground spider Gnaphosa snohomish (Araneae: Gnaphosidae), an apparent bog specialist endemic to the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin area. J. Ent. Soc. Ont. 137: 13-23.

IMG_8189

Our hunt was turning up nothing gnaphbosid like, so we stopped for lunch.

IMG_8193

Spidering makes for healthy appetites, especially when goat cheese, hummus tomato and basil are available.

IMG_8191

Shortly after lunch, it was evident that the black dog of spidering failure had visited us, so we made a move for our second objective: confirmation of a population of black widows at Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen.

IMG_8221

We were shocked at the similarities between this beach and Island View Beach. Each has a shallow bay, a large foreshore protected from high tide, abundant driftwood, sloping fields behind, and a bluff overhanging. The human traffic is a bit more intense at Centennial though.

IMG_8212

Rolling over logs, and what did we find?

IMG_6816

Black widows! Just look at this absolutely gorgeous overwintered male!

IMG_6822

This guy was so spectacular… Almost the size of a young female.

IMG_6849

Females with egg sacs and hatchlings were also around.

IMG_6855

Here is a youngster near an egg sac.

IMG_6879

And a large female with a new egg sac.

IMG_8227

We ended the day back in Vancouver with some ice cream. Overall, a good effort, with 1/2 of our objectives met. We will get you next time Gnaphosa snohomish!

First Coelioxys of 2014!

IMG_8871

I am so excited to have met up with (on Saturday) my favourite little bees, Coelioxys! Something about these streamlined little wonders is just so appealing to me. Of course, they were sleeping in their usual manner on the rainy morning, so I had good opportunities to play with the lighting.

IMG_8834

Here is what a cluster of Coelioxys looks like, on a dead flower stalk.

IMG_8839

Because of the rain, this one had quite a bit of water accumulated.

IMG_8840

Like with the Ammophila yesterday, the water adds something to the already pretty texture.

 

IMG_8869-2

For this shot and the one at the top, I used some hard light from the rear and to the right to make these droplets shine. The green streak is a plant stem in the background.

IMG_8879

This bee is starting to wake, and grooming begins even before detaching her mandibles.

IMG_8906

In the midst of waking up…

IMG_8908

Now the bee is detached, and looking for a place to groom all this water off.

IMG_8916

After a couple swipes with the feet, the thorax is drier.

IMG_9224b

This pretty little bee had a bit of a drier perch for the night.

 

 

 

Sand Lovers

IMG_8955

In addition to the bundles of sleeping bees I found at Iona Beach on Saturday, I also encountered some Ammophila wasps. Their name means “Sand Lover” and they are major predators of caterpillars in sandy habitats. They sting their prey precisely to paralyze it, then bury them in dungeons under the sand for their larvae to eat. The wasps I was shooting were resting on various vegetation, especially stiffer dead flowerheads. The rain made for some beautiful texture and reflections.

IMG_8779

Most sleeping Hymenoptera I find seem to have a preference for dead vegetation. Perhaps this is less attractive to other animals and makes for a disturbance-free night? In addition, the dead twigs and flowers are often stiffer and don’t blow around as much.

IMG_8804

In sleeping mode, these wasps grasp tightly with their mandibles. If you disturb them, they quickly re-grasp the substrate rather than waking and moving.

 

IMG_8838

Here is one on a living plant. I like the way the droplets highlight the smooth abdomen.

IMG_8950

It can be a wet business sleeping in the rain. I suppose while they are sleeping they must shut down their grooming responses.

IMG_8991

IMG_9001

Here is another Sphecid, not Ammophila, but perhaps Isodontia?

Tomorrow I will thrill you with some more sleeping hymenopterans…I have saved the best of them for last!

 

Sleeping (Colletes) bees!

IMG_9160

Yesterday was cold and wet at Iona Beach, where I set out for an insect photography walk. The conditions were a bit uncomfortable for me, but it was not raining so much that I could not use my camera. To make up for the wet misery, I found such a lot of cool things that it will take a series of blog posts to cover them all!

This subject came up as I was just leaving the beach, aiming to warm myself up in a hot shower when I glanced down and saw a little cluster of sleeping bees. Looking around on adjacent flowers, I found that there were 5 such clusters! This was too good to pass up, so I buckled down and started shooting despite the cold.

Here are a couple of the other clusters:

IMG_9134

IMG_9120

I am no expert on solitary bees, so I would love to know what these are. I initially thought they were Halictus, but I am beginning to wonder about that…Whatever they are, they are all males, as they have very hairy faces (most female solitary bees are all business in the front).

Update! These are apparently Colletes males. Thanks to John Ascher for the ID!

Having  such still subjects allows some experimentation with lighting and background…

IMG_9192-2

Here they are against the overcast sky. This was a single diffused flash to the upper left of the cluster and a white bounce card held immediately to the right.

Untitled-1

Here I have the diffused light to the upper right, and the bounce card behind (with a flash pointed at it) to blow out the background. In hindsight, maybe I should carry two cards!

Here I am using a single diffused light to the upper left, a bounce card to the right, and the background lit with the second flash using the Monster Macro Rig.

IMG_9190

Here the setup is similar to the above, except the background is mostly dark and the second light throws hard light to the right and rear.

IMG_9151

Sleeping bees are awesome…Now I have yet another search image burned into my brain for when I go out in the mornings and evenings!

 

As I urge you always, go out and find some sleeping Hymenoptera! They are great subjects for photography!

I mentioned that I had a good photography day at Iona Beach…Here is a hint at what comes next:

IMG_8779