Monday, June 29, 2009

Dragonfly Oviposition

I watched and photographed a pair of dragonflies mating (see inset) at the edge of a lake in Pocahontas State Park in Virginia. What surprised me, was that immediately after mating the female began dipping her abdomen in to the water's surface. This was done with an almost violent motion, each time rippling the water with the force of the small stone tossed by child. At that time, as a witness of this process, I could not imagine that this agitated action was in anyway related to reproduction. It was only through later research that I learned that this dragonfly lays each egg in this manner letting them drop to the lake floor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zebra Swallowtails Mating

I discovered these two zebra swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) mating while exploring at Dutch Gap Conservation Area near my home in Chesterfield County, VA. Most of the time that I was watching they were being harassed by what I'm guessing is another male.

I question, on a site that is used by elementary school children, if it is appropriate to include images of animals mating. I'm thinking that with insects it is probably within bounds. I would be reluctant to do so with vertebrates. Any comments on this topic?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Smith Bridge, Chadds Ford, PA

This weekend, out exploring with my brother and sister, we came across Smith Bridge in southeastern Pennsylvania. It spans Brandywine Creek, the namesake for a less than decisive battle of the Revolutionary War. The bridge was built in 1839 and completely destroyed in a Halloween fire in 1961. It was rebuilt without a cover in 1962. Much effort was made to maintain historical accuracy when the cover was replaced in 2002.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raccoon Juvenile

While exploring a small creek at Brandywine Creek State Park, DE, I began to hear several calls that were in obvious distress, a sound somewhere between a squeal and a squawk. I investigated and found this little guy (sex undetermined) was the one making all the noise and trying desperately to find a way up the creek back. I had only a few minutes to snap a few pictures before his mother reached in from the brush and rescued the little fellow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ridley Creek State Park, PA

State parks are a wonderful thing! I'm lucky enough to live only ten minutes from one of Virginia's largest parks, Pocahontas. I've spent hundreds of hours navigating its trails and service roads and many of my images come from there. Yesterday, while visiting with my brother for the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Ridley Creek State Park in Media, PA. I hiked 10 miles of its trails, walked along the beautiful creek, which I happen to fall in once, and though I didn't see any wildlife, still had a great day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hanging Crane Fly

I found this specimen hovering, if you can call it that, at the edge of a lake in Pocahontas State Park. This hanging crane fly (Brachypremna dispellens) was easy to spot due to its flying pattern which is best described as similar to the rubber ball at the end of a paddleball string--a lot of up and down and very little lateral movement. In fact, I was able to use my hand, without actually touching it, to guide it toward a nearby landing spot. When settled, it is obvious where it gets its common name.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yellowjacket Hover Fly

I came across this individual on my afternoon hike in Pocahontas. I'm guessing its a female as it appeared to be ovipositing (laying eggs) in an old hardwood stump. (It's larvae feed on decaying heartwood.) The species is Milesia virginiensis and the common name is yellowjacket hover fly. It is believed to be a mimic of the southern yellowjacket wasp (Vespula squamosa.) It sure fooled me. I thought it was a wasp until I got close enough the see only one pair of wings and its halteres.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Zebra Swallowtail Caterpillar

After turning over literally thousands of pawpaw leaves (that's the host plant for the species Eurytides marcellus,) I finally found a zebra swallowtail caterpillar. It is one of the earlier instars and fairly small (about 1.5 centimeters.) As it goes with most things, once I find an organism I seem to find it more often so maybe I'll have images of a larger individual soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eastern Cottontail Juvenile

Found this juvenile eastern cottontail on my evening hike in Pocahontas State Park. I know I'm supposed to be all about the science but this tiny (only about 3" long) little guy that I saw yesterday afternoon was just too cute. Still I couldn't bring myself to name the pictures "baby_bunny".