Sunday, September 14, 2008

The I20 Amateur Count (Part I, Debi's Bugs)

The hurricane didn't effect us much here in West Texas (although my mom in East Texas has been without electricity for 2 days!). We have had lots of rain, though. We count on the precipitation this time of year to give us the one of our two rainy seasons. We didn't do so good in the spring, but never mind. The rains have caused almost a second spring. Better than the real one, even.

Wildflowers and buzzing are everywhere.

After being inspired and encouraged by Mr. Burr Williams (read yesterday's post here), Donna and I came up with the idea for a little friendly competition. The challenge would be to see who could photograph the most living species in a given area in a given time. The timing of our new game works in perfectly with the unexpected flurry of life right now.

I found a spot off of Interstate 20 in an industrial area. The advantage is it's near to us and doesn't have much human activity on the weekend or evenings. It's about an acre of open field that was just bursting with nodding yellow flower heads that I could see easily from the highway. Donna, Casey, and I made that our challenge spot on 4:30 pm Saturday.

We gave ourselves one hour to photograph as many species of flowers, plants, bugs, or any living thing.

We had a blast and have decided we like this game. Although it's not always conducive to good photography, it does make you appreciate things you've seen a hundred times (they add to your count), and make you look harder for things you haven't cared to look for before.

Like bugs, for example.

So, this post is my first installment of the I20 Amateur Count, I'm calling it. This is a complete inventory of the bugs I saw -- well, saw and was able to get an identifiable picture, that is.

Here are my bugs, 10 of them. Click any to enlarge.


I can only identify the moth at the end -- it's a Sphinx moth (Hyles lineata, I think). And no wonder I had such a hard time getting its picture: I read where it has been clocked flying at 30 miles per hour! And do click on it so you can see its long tongue, a hollow tube, sucking up nectar.

In another picture you can see the wide hole of an army ant hole which Donna and I had just learned about on Friday from Mr. Williams. Their hole is large to accommodate a special guest, a millipede who keeps their maze of nest clean by munching on the rotting old food and mold. The millipede also helps defend the nest by exuding a noxious chemical. Or at least that's how I understood it.

You can also see a pair of beetles making more beetles. We decided that in our counts to give an extra five points to photos of anything mating. =)

I'll share more of my Saturday's pictures with you in the coming days and then ultimately our living thing tally. I wonder who "won?"


Frances said...

lovely pictures, Debi. Keep em coming. And if you can get names for things, even better! That first bug is so incredible.
Glad to hear you are all okay - tho the power cut must be a real bad thing. Candlelight and lamps are nice, but defrosted freezers not so good. Love to your Mum.

Bev said...

I really enjoy coming to your blog and this is really great! All of bug life seems to be here. And they make great photos, with all the colour, movement and tectures.

I have never seen creatures like these. I did wonder about the beetle, which seemed particularly baroque, with all the arms and legs, but seen up close you can see there is actually two of them LOL

When you enlarge the pictures you can see how perfectly in tune with their surroundings they are. The spotted preying mantis-type creature (like a leopard waiting to pounce, almost)is just the same fuzzy light green as the plants beyond. The butterflies just look like the yellow flowers, with their wings like petals.

I particularly like the cute little pink bristly critter nestling in the middle of the flower. LOL

Glad you escaped the worst of Hurricane Ike and hope your Mum is managing alright.

Irene said...

I can see you half crouching, half running through the field, trying to spot all you can and not miss anything as you stealthily move around. What excitement. Did your adrenalin rush through your body just a bit quicker? I didn't know there could be that many different insects in one field, but maybe that is normal in Texas, or is it that way the world over? I must lie down in a field one day and have a good look.

nelda said...

Your Sphinx Moth is commonly known as a Hummingbird Moth because they fly like hummers and feed like hummers. I had never seen one here in West Texas until this summer. The first one I saw met with an untimely demise while I was watching it feed in my flowers when Ms. Kitty (my killer cat) walked up beside me and slapped the moth across the yard. Then, a few weeks later I saw another one and managed to get some pictures of it - which I have been intending to post on my blog, but you beat me to it! That's what I get for procrastinating!

Great pictures.

nelda said...

PS I count 11 of them. LOL

Bobbie said...

This is the coolest post! I love seeing all these bugs and have to agree with Bev, the pink fuzzy one is the best. I wish I could identify them for you, but desert bugs are not my forte anymore. Do love the pictures though!

YES! The electric is back on as of this morning and internet tonight!

Bobbie said...

p.s. try

to find bugs.

burr said...

the ant is aphanogaster cockerellii... the janitor ant. the millipedes protect the janitor ant from the army ants (who only travel at night with no moon)... the janitor ant has no stinger, and weak jaws, so it has a hard time defending itself. the janitor ant has a storeroom full of rotting stuff they have picked up, and that is what the millipede eats during the dry times on the ground's surface

burr said...

going across the top left to right... the first beetle is a blister beetle -- if you crush him on your skin, you get a blister, and that is also the source of "Spanish Fly"!

I have never seen the caterpillar that is on the devil's bouquet... what a wonderful shot!

the mating beetles are unknown to me, but probably are a reduvid beetle judging by the head and neck... kin are kissing bugs and leaffooted bugs...

on the second row, this is a bee fly, which lays its eggs on bees, or divebombs a digger bee hole with an egg..

then is a small "Seed beetle" found on almost every wildflower

and then the aphanogaster ant

the third row... I have no idea who the caterpillar belongs to -- it might be a very small sphinx moth caterpillar

the butterfly in the middle I can not identify because I can not seeing the identifying marks

the butterfly on the right is a sleepy orange

the ladybug like creature is a ladybird beetle (ladybug) but not a red one...

and of course... the sphinx moth

Bobbie said...

So nice to see Burr here and find out what some of these critters are.