Me and my shadow

While pausing for a moment on a weekend walkabout, a daredevil butterfly began flying tight circles around me at knee level. Several mad minutes passed as I tried to follow his flight round and round and round. Never could catch the little booger, but settled for his shadow.
5-8-16 Me and My Shadow

Voila!

A red-spotted purple emerges from its chrysalis July 22, a week after the photo on the left was taken. What a treat to catch this event just before having to start the morning commute.

red-spotted purple emerges from chrysalis
Before and after. 

Brood XXIII

The sound of insect love songs is filling the air in central and eastern Arkansas as Brood XXIII, one of the 13-year cycle of cicadas, emerges from the ground for its short, post-dirt life looking to make another brood that will emerge in 2028.

Cicada on a branch.
Looking for love. One of the millions of Brood XXIII cicadas that emerged earlier this month on its short mating life above ground.

Seven-legged spider-UPDATE

A not so itsy-bitsy-spider was climbing the walls of the house yesterday and later found exploring the front porch. Not yet sure what he is, but have a query in to the Arthropod Museum curator at the University of Arkansas. Toe-to-toe, this fellow was about the size of a quarter. He was also missing a leg, which made his climb harder. During one of his slow climbs, he fell off the wall, but got back up again.

Thanks to the entomologists at the U of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, we have an ID for our mystery man:

“That is an adult male Myrmekiaphila, the only eastern genus of Euctenizidae, the ‘wafer-lid trapdoor spiders.’ The name ‘Myrmekiaphila’, meaning “ant-loving” refers to fact that early authors found burrows near ant nests … although there is no actual association with these spiders and ants.¬†Males reach adulthood in the fall and early winter, when they leave their burrows and wander in search of females (which remain in their burrows). The strange modification of the first leg (metatarsus) seen in these photos is used to grip the females forelegs and push her backwards awkwardly, which prevents her from eating him during mating.”
Red spider on concrete brick.Red spider on tan bricks looking at front of spider.

12-27 Mystery Spider9

Tarantula hawk

Tarantula hawks are both beautiful and gruesome. Their black bodies have a mesmerizing blue iridescence visible in bright sunlight, yet their curled antennae and orange wings make them seem somewhat cartoonish. Make no mistake, these wasps, while docile, have a sting that is described as “blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric.” Their mode of reproducing rather ghoulish as well, with larvae eating its live tarantula host from the inside out until it emerges as an adult.

Tarantula Hawk wasp.
BOTTOMS UP — Tarantula hawk wasp worked hard to get every drop of nectar from this snakeroot plant.

Ghosts and empty sockets

Humans tend to see human qualities everywhere: in images, behavior, even the night sky. Anthropomorphization is one of those things that defines humanity.

Mud dauber wasp nest.
EMPTY — This unusual mud dauber nest was symmetrical, with holes at about the same level, giving it an eerie skull- or masklike appearance. It, along with three or four other wasp nests, was discovered under the bonnet of our truck.
Mud dauber nest.
Another view of the same image above, showing its “‘other eye.”