Photos of the Week – August 27, 2021

If you’re a podcast listener and on the lookout for prairie-related content, I’m a guest on two different podcasts that came out this week. The first is The Prairie Pod, a terrific podcast sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. On the episode I was part of, Megan, Mike, and I talked about habitat heterogeneity – why it’s important and how to create it. The second podcast is called Science for the Rest of Us and host Alex McKiernan and I covered just about everything you could imagine related to prairies in an hour and a half.

In other news, my wife Kim is training for an ultramarathon later this fall. Last weekend, I drove her to and from southeast Kansas so she could do some long training runs on the rocky trail the race will take place on. While she did her obscenely long trail runs, I wandered much more slowly around with my camera, trying to find something to photograph. The dense woodland along the trail and the weedy, brushy habitats nearby didn’t provide much for flowers or pollinators, but spiders were all over the place. That was ok with me, I like spiders just fine.

Below, you’ll see photos of some of the little friends I ran into. Kim ran into many more – literally – while she was running the trail. She had to comb all the silk and detritus out of her hair afterward (her reward for being the first out on the trail each morning!) My encounters were much less dramatic, both for me and the spiders. I know not everyone is a fan of spiders, but I think they’re beautiful and fascinating creatures. I can’t identify most of the species, but I’m guessing some of you will be able to.

Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/16, 1/400 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/80 sec.
Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/200 sec.
I think this is a banded argiope. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/10, 1/400 sec.
This banded argiope was feeding on a leafhopper. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/125 sec.
Spider and moth. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/14, 1/80 sec.
Ok, this isn’t a spider, but this assassin bug was caught in a spider web and I grabbed a few photos of it when the spider saw me coming and retreated to the corner of its web. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/11, 1/60 sec.
This black and yellow argiope was a little bigger than the banded argiopes, but both sat nicely while I stuck a macro lens into their faces. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/160 sec.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – August 27, 2021

  1. I love to see spiders. I hate running into their webs, Eewwww. Our front porch is beginning to look like a Halloween setting. Tis the season.

  2. The podcast Science for the Rest of Us was great. Especially for those of us who are interested but are not scientists and don’t live this everyday. Thanks.

  3. Interesting to hear about the interactions with landowners like ranchers and farmers.
    That really takes special kind of skills; not to mention patience I would imagine.
    My way or the highway is probably not going to work, no.

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