Friday, January 17, 2014

The Strangers

There are a lot of bugs. A mind-bogglingly large number of species, an inconceivably immense biomass of creatures. Many of them are quite familiar to us - they buzz, bump, and crawl their way through our lives, either as pests, terrors, or pieces of wonderment. However, some of them are quite strange and foreign.

Antlion - Myrmeleontidae
Here is one I rarely notice - the antlion. Now, some of you are probably thinking, "that's not what an antlion looks like." This is probably because you are familiar with the larval form, which the pincered creature children often find hiding in tiny sandpits in playgrounds. It undergoes metamorphosis and then becomes this guy. It's still a rampant predator, even in its adult form.

Mayfly - Ephemeroptera, poss. Ephemeridae hexagenia
Here's one you're probably a little more familiar with - the mayfly. Similar to the dragonfly and the damselfly, the mayfly can be distinguished by the characteristic filaments protruding like a tail. They are famous for their incredibly short adult (winged) lifespans, lasting only a few days in some species.

I found both of these guys on the same day, while taking a brief hike in Fort Worth Nature Center. Both of them were resting on vegetation below eye level, reiterating the importance of looking down when insect hunting. Finding insects is a skill that improves with time and practice, as you learn the sometimes subtle clues that announce an arthropod presence. Admittedly, I know that this is not a skill many care to perfect, but, as a macro photographer, insects provide variable and interesting subject manner at finger's reach.

How do you feel about getting close enough to bugs to photograph them?

Want to learn more about bugs? Head over here for a brief lesson in entomology!

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