Photos of the Week – May 23, 2020

Each year, when spiderworts (Tradescantia sp) start blooming in our backyard prairie garden, I wander out to take photos of the hover flies that seem particularly attracted to the flowers. The tradition continued this week and I have a nice crop of fly photos to share, including a goofy one at the end of the post.

In bigger news, I got a couple advance copies of my new book in the mail yesterday! The book contains a dozen essays and a few other notes on the square meter photography project I did back in 2018, along with more than 100 photos taken exclusively within that square meter of prairie. It sounds like books will start shipping during early June, so if you happened to have pre-ordered the book, you shouldn’t have too much longer to wait. I’m really happy with the way it turned out and I hope you’ll like it too.

Now, back to hover flies… Here are some more shots from this morning.

The fly in the above photo was using its legs to wipe pollen off its face while swiveling its head around. Not long after this photo, I got another shot mid-swivel, catching the blur of the moving head. Later, as I browsed through the photos on my computer, I enjoyed the sequence of those two photos (twisted head and mid-swivel), along with another with the head in its more typical position.

In fact, I may have giggled a little because it almost looked like the fly was using its legs to twist its head. My mind wondered what it would look like if the fly could actually screw its head all the way off (and back on, of course). Because I had time on my hands, I created a photo series and edited the last frame to make it look like that actually happened. It made me happy – maybe you’ll find it funny too. If not, just ignore this last photo and enjoy the others…

Click on the image to see a bigger, clearer version of it.

Happy Weekend!

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

5 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – May 23, 2020

  1. That last photo was really twisted, Chris. ;-)
    Hover flies are cool critters. Did you know there’s a new picture guide to the spp. of northeastern hover flies, which covers the great majority of the Nebraska syrphids?

  2. My spiderworts won’t be blooming for awhile. However, the hover flies were all over my yellow-star grass this morning.


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