A Look At The Insect World With My Macro Lens
Spring is a great time to hike and explore the beauty of nature here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And, these past few years, to also photograph and share this beauty here on my blog and social media. The returning migratory song birds, flowers, and the new, fresh green leaves of the plants and trees create a wonderful world to explore and photograph. But, as much as I love Spring, Summer was always my favorite season. I loved the long days, heat and humidity. I also loved looking for wild edible mushrooms, blueberries (huckleberries as we called them) and blackberries.
However, in mid-Summer there are not as many flowers to photograph and the summer heat discourages bird and wildlife activity. But not in the insect world. And, one of my new found favorite summer activities is hiking around a lake, pond or creek with my macro lens and exploring the world of the insects that live there, mostly unseen by us humans.
And so last week I took a couple hikes around Lake Irena in the Community park near my home in Hazle Township to observe this insect world. And there was so much to observe, from the hundreds of colorful dragonflies darting along the lake,
and the dozens of grasshoppers jumping from the ground or leaf of a plant as I walked along the lake.
There are large areas of pickerelweed growing along the lake. The bright blue flowers are now in bloom and attract pollinators such as bees,
this interesting insect. It is a hummingbird moth.
These moths could easily be mistaken for a hummingbird at first glance.
I have seen one a few times on my last couple of hikes but it always flew off as I approached. Last week I got lucky and was able to get some photos of this interesting insect. There are three species in Pennsylvania and I think this is a hummingbird clearwing moth. It fluttered in the pickerel weeds much like a hummingbird would.
Of course I came across some pickerel frogs in the pickerel flowers.
Most jumped into the waters of the lake as I approached but I was able to photograph a few of them.
The only other flowers blooming near the lake were the goldenrod, the steeplebush and the
white meadowsweet. Both of these flowers also attracted bees and butterflies.
On the waters of the lake the water lilies were now in full bloom.
There were many dragonflies with so many colors darting above the pickerelweeds along the lake. I have tried to identify some like this easy one, I believe are Halloween pennant.
I think this is a widow skimmer.
And this an eastern pondhawk eating a cricket but I am not certain. Whatever there names I loves seeing this delicate and exotic insects. Here is a link to a gallery on my website to some more photographs of the dragonflies I saw on my hikes. Community Park hikes dragonflies. July 28 to August 1 2020.
In addition to the dragonflies I again saw hundreds of grasshoppers on my walks around the lake.
There were also a few of these beetles feeding on the pickerelweed flowers.
On one of my walks around the lake I met a friend and he informed me of this rare fern that grew along the shores of lake. It is American climbing fern or Hartford fern and is rare in our area.
Usually after a few walks around the lake I would walk in the surrounding woodlands. Here I found a late blooming milkweed flower and a monarch butterfly gathering nectar.
I haven’t seen a lot of the beautiful butterflies this year. But they have been here, and the proof were these monarch butterfly caterpillars I found on some nearby milkweed plants.
They feed exclusively on the milkweed plant. The adults butterflies migrate to the mountains of Mexico where they remain for the Winter.
I took a video of them and this is a link to the video on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/3E8bY0Cswhs
Continuing on one of my walks I found a number of other residents of the insect world including this one. It looked like something from a science fiction movie. I haven’t been able to identify it. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the monarch butterfly caterpillars and inhabitants of the insect world I saw on my hike. Community Park hikes insects July 28 to August 1 2020.
In addition to the insects I also found some Summer flowers in the surrounding woodlands including this sneezeweed flower with a visiting wasp,
On a couple of my hikes I also found some mushrooms along the trails, including these poison pigskin puffballs. They are actually not a puffball although they produce spores which explodes when stepped on or thrown, My brothers and I had a lot of fun throwing them at each other on mushroom hikes with my dad when we were children.
I also found a few edible milker and bolete mushrooms on my hikes, Enough for a small meal. I was pleased to capture some of the beauty of the insect world and also to gather some wild mushrooms on my hikes. As I finish this blog post, we had a drenching rain two days ago here in Luzerne County. I will soon be looking for some more mushrooms and, of course, I will have my macro lens, in case I discover some more interesting members of the world of insects. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes with my macro lens. Community Park macro hikes July 28 to August 3 2020.
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” —E.O. Wilson