Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bugguide "gathering" and Max Patch trip

Wow, what a weekend! On Friday Kenny and I went to meet the insect enthusiasts from The meeting place was at the University of Tennessee Field Station, just outside of Gatlinburg. It is quite an experience to get together with 20 other people who love to study and photograph insects. One lady studies tree crickets. She scoured the nearby trees until she found one (not an easy task in the dark!). Everyone was amazed at what she showed us (see photo below). The male cricket chews a hole in a leaf then sticks his head through it. His wings spread out below the hole where he rubs them together to make chirping "love call" to the females. The purpose of the hole is to amplify the sound! Isn't that amazing?!

Male Tree Cricket "singing" (click on photos to enlarge)

Another amazing insect was the Thread-legged Ambush Bug. We saw two of them in spiderwebs, not as unfortunate prey of the spider, but as a predator that was unaffected by the web. If it hadn't been for the sharp eyes of a couple of the participants, most of us would have never seen these strange insects. They are well camouflaged, they look like a thin twig caught in the web when they hold their front legs together. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Kenny and I learned a lot and we enjoyed meeting the other participants. We'd like to go to another Bugguide Gathering in the future!

Thread-legged Ambush Bug

On Sunday, Charlie, my friend and photography mentor, and his friend Joe, invited me to go up to Max Patch, a lovely bald located near the Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. It is located in the Pisgah National Forest. It is part of the Appalachian Trail. We picked a perfect day to go up there; the temperatures were in the upper 60's, the views were spectacular, and the sky was surprisingly clear. We enjoyed munching on juicy blackberries and blueberries on the hike up to the top.

A View from Max Patch

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