CURRENT MOON

New backyard butterfly: Ceraunus Blue

Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus). Boca Raton, FL, February 6, 2014.

Today I saw the smallest butterfly I’ve ever seen in my life: the tiny Ceraunus Blue, Hemiargus ceraunus. Most blues, as this family of butterflies is known, are tiny, but I cannot convey to you the utter tininess of this thing. The tiny little stalk of dead weed it’s perched on looks gargantuan in the [...] [...]

New backyard butterfly: Little Yellow (Eurema lisa)

Eurema lisa on Richardia grandiflora. Boca Raton, FL, October 25, 2013.

Halloween is right around the corner and the butterflies are popping out of the woodwork. I’ve seen the “standard” passion vine butterflies (heliconians attracted to the Passiflora vines I have growing along the backyard fence) all summer, and they’re still out in force, but I’ve also got the smaller “grassy” butterflies flying around now. One [...] [...]

Dune sunflowers, spiders, and moths, oh my!

Dune Sunflower (Helianthus debilis). Boca Raton, FL, July 9, 2012.

Dune sunflower, Helianthus debilis, is a commonly recommended plant for Florida native gardeners. It’s in the daisy family (Asteraceae), and it’s very pretty: Yellow rays, purple disc flowers, loads of pollen—very attractive to bees and butterflies. It self-sows and reseeds annually, so once you’ve got it established, you don’t have to do much except remove [...] [...]

Backyard bug profile: Celithemis eponina

Celithemis eponina, Halloween Pennant, close-up. Boca Raton, FL, May 24, 2013.

The beginning of spring, by which I mean the arrival of the rainy season, is one of my favorite times of year here in south Florida. The damselflies and dragonflies are out in significant numbers again, dotting the grasses and trees searching for food. Earlier this week there were dozens of dragonflies cruising the back [...] [...]

My, what pretty eyes you have!

Rambur's forktail (Ischnura ramburii). Boca Raton, FL, May 8, 2013.

Fair’s fair: since I made a face map of the dragonfly last week, I need to do the same for the damselflies. For those of you who aren’t hip to the differences between these two suborders of Odonata, one easy way to remember it is think of dragons and damsels. Dragons are large, damsels are [...] [...]

Dragonflies: eyes and a face

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). Boca Raton, FL, May 7, 2013.

Those of you who grew up in the 1980s might remember Billy Idol’s rock ballad “Eyes Without a Face.” It’s a catchy little song that owes its title to Jean Redon’s grisly horror novel Les yeux sans visage, which was adapted to the big screen back in 1962 and featured serial murders, a doctor’s daughter in [...] [...]

New backyard bug: Southern Sprite

Southern Sprite (Nehalennia integricollis. Boca Raton, FL, May 6, 2013.

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time in the “field,” a fancy name for my small suburban backyard (I say suburban because here in Boca Raton, even with city hall only three blocks away, there is no “urban” to speak of). This was the first weekend after A Lot Of Rain, so there [...] [...]

After the rains, the odonates appear

Everglades Sprite (Nehalennia pallildula). Boca Raton, FL, May 4, 2013.

South Florida is typically described as having two seasons: wet (May through October) and dry (November through April). Hydrologists like to split this up a bit further, with the wet season (now called high rainfall, low evapotranspiration season) running June through October, and the dry season now divided into two subseasons: low rainfall, low evapotranspiration [...] [...]

Depth of field, part two

The eye and thorax are in excellent focus.

In my post last week I talked about how depth of field is critical to macro photography. I found a couple of photos of that Citrine Forktail where it’s even more apparent, although it’s a bit difficult to tease out what’s a result of the angle at which the photo was taken (was the camera [...] [...]

Citrine forktail

Seventh and final shot. Head and tail in acceptable focus.

Last week I started to notice the persistent presence in these here parts of those ephemeral and infernally hard to see odonates, the damselflies. Two forktail species, Rambur’s and Citrine, (Ischnura ramburii and I. hastata, for those of you keeping score at home) are the only ones present so far, but I’m sure that soon [...] [...]