Photos of the Week – July 31 2020

This week, I spent a lot of time at home with the kids. As a result, I wasn’t out in the field with my camera much and I’m dipping into my files for this week’s featured photos. I’m incredibly fortunate to have regular access to the two bison herds at The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve. Since there’s never a bad time to look at bison photos, here are some of my favorites. Enjoy your weekend!

Nikon 28-300mm lens at 170mm. ISO 640, 1/250 sec, f10.
Nikon 28-300mm lens at 190mm. ISO 400, 1/160 sec, f10.
Nikon 28-300mm lens at 300mm. ISO 320, 1/250 sec, f/11.
Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, 1/160 sec, f/8.
Tokina 12-28mm lens at 17mm. ISO 400, 1/160 sec, f/8.
Tokina 12-28mm lens at 12mm. ISO 250, 1/500 sec, f/13.
Nikon 18-300mm lens at 300mm. ISO 320, 1/200 sec, f/7.
Nikon 18-300mm lens at 300mm. ISO 320, 1/400 sec, f/9.
Nikon 18-300mm lens at 300mm. ISO 640, 1/500 sec, f/7.
Nikon 18-300mm lens at 300mm. ISO 800, 1/1600, f/6.3.
Nikon 18-300mm lens at 170mm. ISO 500, 1/1000 sec, f/7.

Late July Miscellany

I’m going to be on the road early this week. As a result, today’s post is a quick overview of some recent photos and a few natural history stories to accompany them.

This is a cluster of male five-banded Thynnid wasps (Myzinum quinquecinctum) photographed one early morning last week. Males of this species tend to group together overnight and it’s not uncommon to come across those groups before they break apart as the day warms up.
The five-banded Thynnid wasps and others in the same genus are not aggressive toward people and males don’t even have stingers. What looks like a stinger on these males is just a curved spine that is apparently just there for looks.
Here’s another male from the above group of wasps. While males spend a lot of time hanging around and feeding on flowers, females do the same but are also hunting scarab beetle larvae, on which they lay eggs that hatch out and burrow into the larvae – eventually killing them from the inside.
This is just a charming grasshopper I found this weekend at our family prairie. Grasshoppers are cool too, but I’ve written plenty about them in the past. Did you know, though, that grasshoppers have 5 eyes? At least 4 are visible in this photo. (Click to see larger version)
This is Flodman’s thistle (Cirsium flodmanii) at our family prairie this weekend. It is one of five native thistle species in Nebraska that provide valuable nectar, pollen, seeds, and nesting material to numerous animal species.
I believe this is a ‘sharpshooter leafhopper’, characterized its the sharp pointed head. This group of leafhoppers feeds (mostly?) on grasses and sedges but this one was resting on a Flodman’s thistle stem when I snuck up on it.
I’m guessing this orange sulphur butterfly at our family prairie might have a protozoan infection similar to the one that can cause problems for monarch butterflies. With monarchs, caterpillars ingest protozoan spores as caterpillars and then when they emerge from their chrysalis they have deformed wings that prevent them from flying and – obviously – greatly shorten their lives. On the other hand, maybe this butterfly’s wings just didn’t dry out/expand correctly.
Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) was blooming this weekend at our family prairie.
Here’s a fish-eye lens photo of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and its many neighbors at our family prairie. Bergamot is in the mint family, characterized by stems that are square in cross section.