The activity levels in prairies around here start ramping up exponentially in mid-April. More wildflowers begin blooming, but most are still scattered and hard to see until you get within a few yards of them. Bees and other insects are flying around and even more are scooting about on the ground. Many of us aren’t able to get out to our favorite prairies right now, so here are some photos of the kinds of species that are active – at least in my part of Nebraska – at this time of year.
Prairie photos of new blooms (and bug activity) this time of the year are always inspiring . . .
I am interested in your observance of insect abundance and diversity. This is of importance as we struggle with creating policy for pesticide use. Many, if not most, corn, wheat and soybean seeds are treated with some form of neonicotinoids. Any thoughts. I am not an entomologist, but do have a long background in grassland ecology (as a botanist). I enjoy, and appreciate your photos and comments. Many years ago I had a good friend (Harlan DeGarmo) who was a range person for the SCS in the Nebraska Sandhills. I took students there several times. It is a very special place.
Gerald L. Van Amburg Cell Phone (218) 790-2502
Prof. of Biology – Emeritus Home Phone (218) 236-7659
Moorhead, MN 56560
Hi Gerald. I’m not an entomologist either and I don’t have enough data or experience to really track/measure changes in insect abundance and diversity over time. The one observance I have that I’m concerned about has to do with mosquitoes. While it’s nice from a field work perspective, I’ve noticed a SIGNIFICANT decrease in the mosquito densities in the habitats where I work compared to 20 years ago. I don’t know why that is or what the ecological consequences might be (or what other insects are affected similarly by whatever is causing it) but it worries me not to know. You’re absolutely right that policies on pesticide use are really important, and I’m glad others with more experience than I have are engaged in that. All I can do is try to continue getting people to remember and care about invertebrates, plants, and other aspects of natural communities people tend to ignore otherwise…
Hmmm, less mosquitoes is not something I have noticed in the Chicago area. It may be due to there being much less agriculture where I live until you get about 10 miles further west.
Have you by chance done a post regarding your photography setup? lenses, camera body, other miscellaneous equipment?
I did a post long ago on close up techniques: https://prairieecologist.com/2010/12/06/a-quick-guide-to-close-up-photography-macro-photography/
I’ve updated my equipment a little since then but the basic ideas are the same. Here’s my current list of primary equipment. Nikon D7100 camera, Nikon 105mm lens (old version, not the newer VR version), Tokina 12-28mm lens, Nikon 18-300mm lens. Slik tripod that I’ve severely modified so the legs go completely flat and a Bogen 3262QR tripod head (which I love and can’t find a newer version of). I also have a larger tripod set up for the little bit of wildlife work I do, but I don’t use it often.
I was intrigued by the photo of the bee nest. It’s resemblance to a small crawfish ‘chimney’ is striking. Now, I’m wondering if I’ve mis-identified the homes of ground-nesting bees as crawfish digs. I’ll be more attentive in the future.
Just wonderful photographs this fine spring morning Chris! Just commenting to offer a huge THANK YOU! Keep up the good work.
Fun fact : pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) are dioecious, meaning that individual plants are either male or female. You can tell the ones in the foreground of your photo are males by the brown anthers sticking out of the flowers. Male pussytoes are also shorter than the females.
Thanks for the idea of wide angle plus extension tube. I’m going to try that!
I really enjoy your work.