Thursday, August 13, 2009


Staycation -- The latest buzzword in post financial meltdown America.

It works for me because it's my favorite. We spent all last week hanging around the homestead, practicing what it will be like when my wife is finally able to retire from Saint Francis University. Except for a few runs to Carrolltown to shoot the Firemen's Jubilee, all of the photos in this week's blog were shot around the house. I focused (no pun intended) on bugs I haven't taken notice of before. It would really be nice to have a camera that would allow me to get even closer to my targets.

Playing with fire is not always a bad thing.

It's true...where there's smoke there's fire. The smoke is coming from smoldering pine needles.

Carrolltown Firemen's Jubilee

Tootsie Roll Pops on a display stand.

These are some of the prizes at the pick-a-ticket stand at the Carrolltown Fireman's Jubilee.

I shot this just because I liked the way the light was hitting it.

I was at the Carrolltown Firemen's Jubilee to take pictures of the crowning of the Fire Queen and her court on Friday night for the Star-Courier when I shot this picture of a baby and her bottle. She happened to be sitting with her mother, who was one of the judges.

The 2009 Queen and Court
Carrolltown Volunteer Fire Company

Shot in a window in our family room, left is right and right is left. On the left is a photograph of leaves in an icy slush published on the blog in Nov 2007, on the right is the top shelf of one of our book cases which holds some red storage boxes for small cookbooks.

One of the positive aspects for just staying home for vacation is that I had time to go around the yard looking at insects and other creepy crawlers that live here also. Over the years visitors to the blog have asked me how I know so much about the birds, snakes and bugs that I shoot. I try to tell them that I'm a polymath, but they just laugh. Actually, I use several different books and a few websites. My favorite book on insects is published by the National Wildlife Federation titled Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America. To id birds in Pennsylvania I rely on Birds of Pennsylvania, a field guide by Stan Tekiela. The reason for using these two book is because they use photographs rather than drawings or paintings.

A more general book for identifying birds is Birds of North America, published by Golden Press. In fact, the Golden Press line of books is fairly cheap when put into perspective and they are a good resource for kids. I think we have 12-13 of them. When it comes to wild flowers and such we use the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Flowers (Eastern States). This is a 2 book set, one for the right coast and one for the other coast.

Measuring about 1/4 inch the Ambush Bug is easy to overlook in a garden where I found these two sitting on a Black-eyed Susan. The male, which is smaller than the female, is often found riding on the back of the female. When I first saw these two, it was hard to see that there really were two of them.

Net-winged Beetles are all over the place and easy to find.

Soldier Beetles mating on a Coreopsis.

As far as I can tell, this is a female Scorpion Fly. The male has a scorpion-like tail.

A Garter Snake makes it's way across our sidewalk. Lucky for me that my family enjoys wildlife.

I found two different kinds of Robber Flies this week. You can see the difference in the tails. This one is dining on a moth.

Robber Flies catch their food "on the fly", as it were. They use their proboscis to inject their kill with an enzyme which liquifies the inside of the bug and allows the robber fly to suck out the juices, leaving an almost complete body structure behind. This Robber has landed on a brace that holds the satellite dish in place and is feeding on a fly. Suction cups on the bottom of the feet allow the fly to land almost anywhere it wants to.

Seeds of a petunia explode from the calyx of a dead flower. The seeds are easy to harvest and use for next year's planting. They are pretty small, not much bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.
My last two frames this week are of the same pink Gladiola, shot at different angles and using different filters and settings in PhotoShop.

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