Friday, January 2, 2015

Photos of the year 2014

In 2014 I developed a fondness for shots with diffuse, non-flash lighting. I also moved away from field guide like documentation of local species to more interesting shots.

Diffuse lighting is especially suited to show the true colors of reflective surfaces, and most beetles are shiny.

I try to get images that show some typical behavior, like this predatory stink bug spearing a leaf beetle on its beak 

This photo has deep emotional value. My beloved Cody followed me on a pre-sunrise search for blooming Queen of the Night Cacti and happened to walk into the picture. It was our the last walk together and the last photo before he died.

Some delicate little insects are still better photographed under controlled studio conditions

I am breeding big scarabs and the larvae get quite enormous. This Dynastes granti still had to grow for at least another year

A shot that took a lot of patients and many failed attempts: a Leaf-cutter Bee is cutting a perfect circle from a Bell Pepper leaf to use as tapestry in her nest

Simply beautiful: the eggs of a Green Lacewing on a Milkweed flower. Practical too: the hatching larvae may feed on the aphids in the background

Also on Milkweed,  Oncopeltus sanguineolentus (Blood-colored Milkweed Bug) a relative of the more common Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)

 Some photos might inspire interesting blog stories, like this little wasp in Ichneumonidae Diplazontinae who's host are aphidophagous Syrphidae

This nest of Polistes aurifer had been exposed when the willows along the Sta Cruz River path were pruned. The wasps were upset and spent a lot of time ventilating the sunniest spots. Late in the year (October), the colony was in decline and maybe because of that the wasps were not at all aggressive. My hand held camera was nearly touching the nest while I shot stills and videos. After hours of observation I could eventually recognize individuals and learned something about their ranks, roles and duties. It was very fascinating.


  1. My daughter once had a dog named Cody as well. He always appeared in my year end favourites. Also I never expected to like a stink bug.

  2. You always have great photos! I like the I like field shots more than field guide photos because they tell a little story of the insect's life. The leaf-cutter bee is my favorite since it shows how those circles get cut out of leaves, but then again I am fond of bees! The spider and lace-wing eggs are also favorite pictures.

  3. Great collection of photos Margarethe. I'm almost afraid to ask what you are breeding the scarabs for.......

    1. I gave a tour to kids from Japan who were absolutely fascinated with those big beetles. They had planned to go to a beetle camp in Japan but there was nuclear pollution in that area so their parents rather had them go to AZ with me. But they could not take the beetles back. I let the beetles breed and now I'm reporting back to the kids about it.