On Monday my friend Laura and I headed over to Ijams Nature Center to do some photography. We met in a Photoshop class in Knoxville a few months ago and have been wanting to get together. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and we saw lots of nice insects. The dragonflies were spectacular! I like the Eastern Pondhawk with the big green eyes! Spring is still in the air, so many of the dragonflies have "love" on their minds! I caught this pair "in action", I didn't notice the female that had just molted below them until I looked at this photo on my computer! I often get surprises like that!
While I'm on the subject of dragonfly "love", I'll post this photo of the Slaty Skimmers mating on a chain. Notice how the male (dark blue) grasps the female's head and she hangs on to the end of his abdomen, . She then inserts her abdomen into a special area where he deposited his "fluids," (I have to keep this family-friendly!) this is called the "wheel position". Within a few seconds after mating, she began to deposit her eggs by dipping the end of her abdomen in the water.
I was thrilled to see a gorgeous female 12-spotted Skimmer dragonfly when she landed on a cattail leaf. I never saw a male of that species, he would have been even more spectacular!
Two little boys noticed a tiny Peeper Frog sitting in the middle of an Arrowhead leaf while we were at the pond. I love seeing small children get excited about seeing things in nature! They also saw a large brown spider with babies on her back. It gives me hope that at least a few of the members of the upcoming generation will have an appreciation of nature and understand the importance of protecting it!
As Laura and I walked in the garden I noticed a large insect land on a leaf. It turned out to be a large Robber Fly with a Japanese Beetle in its mouth! They are intimidating-looking insects, but they are very helpful predators of "bad" bugs! They look a lot like a bumblebee at first glance because of their fuzzy yellow and black body.
Later, on my way back home, I stopped by the UT Arboretum. I always take my camera because I usually see something interesting. I was delighted to spot 2 stunning Dogbane Beetles on an Indian Hemp leaf. Unfortunately, the camera cannot do these beautiful beetles justice! Their bodies are a metallic blue, green, gold and other colors depending on how the light reflects from them. The last time I saw them a few years ago my picture didn't come out very clear, so I was determined to get a good one this time. :)
On the subject of beetles, Soldier Beetles are not the "sharpest tacks in the insect box", so they don't know better than to try and eat milkweed leaves. Common Milkweed has latex in the sap which gums up the beetle's mouth if it bites into a leaf vein. Here is a photo of a dead beetle hanging from a leaf. Maybe it didn't listen to its mother when she told it not to chew too much gum! Ha!