A large wasp, busy digging a hole in the mulch and dirt by my flowers. He would disappear into the hole every few seconds and come out carrying a bit of mulch, such as that in his jaws in this photo.
There are unconfirmed reports that I DO have new bird photos. That’s right…actually photographs of feathered creatures, ala the old days when such a thing was commonplace. I haven’t processed those photos yet though, so here’s a few photos from yesterday, just poking around the yard.
I have yet to ever be stung by a wasp or a bee. Not in my entire life. I think I’m pushing my luck. The wasp was a very large one, at least an inch and a half long, who was busy digging a hole in the mulch and dirt by the honeysuckle by our front door. He wasn’t exactly thrilled that I was trying to shoot photos of him. I sat on the front step and at first he would buzz up from the hole and fly around me a bit. But as I sat there he seemed to get used to me. He would disappear into the hole for a second or two and come out with a piece of dirt or mulch, so my strategy was to move ever so slightly closer to him every time he went in the hole. It seemed to work! Before I knew it I was within about a foot of him (the distance you have to be with the macro lens to get a shot like this). I have no idea how aggressive this wasp species actually is, and how likely it is that it would (or could) sting you, but I figure it’s only a matter of time before I come across one that’s not so camera friendly.
The dragonfly was another nice one to get. I haven’t gotten many photos of dragonflies yet with my macro lens. They seem just a bit too skittish to get close enough to. Just like with birds though there always seems to be an exception to the rule. With some bird species, they all just seem too skittish to photograph, but then you run across the one cooperative individual who seems to break the rules. This dragonfly was certainly as cooperative as could be, letting me snap away at close range as much as I wanted.
Some day soon, some actual new bird photos will be posted here! I promise! For now, click on any photo for a larger view.
Wasp galls on the undersides of Burr Oak leaves. These are the galls of wasps from the Cynipidae family. I never would have known that these strange fuzzy structures are part of the oak leaf itself, not created by the insect!
It’s been a bad last week with my eyes, so dry and so hard to be outside in the wind. As such, I again haven’t been in much of a mood to go shoot, but thankfully these things seem to run in spurts and I’m feeling better now! What better way to get back outside than do a little more macro photography.
One of the things I’ve really loved about getting into macro photography (one whole month into it now!!) is that it’s opened my eyes to things I just wouldn’t have ever noticed before. When I’m walking along, closely scouring the vegetation or trail for an insect or some neat pattern to shoot with my macro lens, I certainly notice things I’d never noticed before when I shot almost exclusively birds. While walking in the Big Sioux Recreation Area (State Park across the street), I noticed that the undersides of the Burr Oak leaves had many little fuzzy balls. Not only fuzzy, but colorful and quite variable fuzzy little balls, between 1/4″ and 1/2″ in size, mostly in mixed bands of pink and cream colors.
A perfect opportunity for some macro shots! As the photo above shows, the fuzzy balls are variable, but seem to always be composed of the same two colors. I had assumed they were related to insect reproduction, thinking they were some kind of egg mass or something. A quick search of the internet when coming back home revealed that they are the galls of certain wasp species.
A wasp gall…OK? I knew the term “gall”, and had myself associated it with a variety of odd bumps and lumps and deformities that you see on plants. I had always assumed they were created by an insect to house eggs or young. I didn’t know the gall itself is actually plant tissue! Fascinating to read about! The galls are from the Cynipidae family of wasps. The females lay an egg on a leaf. There is some unknown chemical or mechanical triggering that induces the Burr Oak leaf itself to produce a protective gall around the egg. Once the egg hatches, the tiny wasp larvae feeds on the tissue of the gall itself, with the wasp eventually breaking free of the gall and flying away once it matures.
Very cool! And something I doubt I ever would have been aware of had I not started taking photos with a macro lens. I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed that this fuzzy, pink-and-cream colored creation was actually part of the oak leaf itself!