Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bug love

I was going to pull out the gigantic wormwood plant at the other end of the garden (big fluffy thing from which absinthe is made) when I buried my hands into the old wood and started to pull -- and a GIGANTIC praying mantis daintily stepped over my knuckles to drop to a lower branch.

This was a mature female, with closed darkened wings and a full six or seven inch length. I looked at her. She turned her head completely around and looked at me. We stood there for a moment.

Then I did something really bizarre: I petted her. I said, "Hello there!" very softly, and using only my index finger, gently stroked her back. She didn't budge, just kept looking at me. Then she took a step forward and stopped again, looking back at me. I said, "Nice to have you here!" and petted her back again! It was smooth going from head to tail, but rough and bristly from tail to head (I was actually stroking her closed wings).

I petted and talked to this praying mantis for a good ten minutes before she tired of me and dropped to another, much lower branch. I didn't even bother to dash inside for the camera. I simply savored the bond, and then went back to gardening. However, the wormwood plant was spared.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Today's crop of insect photography!

I took these in the garden near my front door. I'm using a Sony DSC F-707 and importing them into my Mac Powerbook G4, then use Adobe Photoshop to crop them and add my copyright. Then I upload them to for storage and to link to them from here.

I don't know what the species is on the last one, the orange spotted swallowtail -- but will ask an expert this evening and post the name when I find out.

A Pipevine Swallowtail with pale smeary blue markings.

Another view of the Pipevine Swallowtail.

Red-spotted purple Basilarchia astyanax butterfly (and yes, he's standing upside-down on the flower) - Thanks to for identifying the species for me!