Memos from Bugshot 2012

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Silver Argiope (Argiope argentata)

After realizing how much I was hearing this year I had heard last year in St. Louis and forgotten, I decided to write a few things down.


Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Get low.

Use a polarizing filter to get rich colors in landscape photography.


Some ants have stingers, not just fangs.

Toads have been recategorized. There are no more Bufos left in North America!

Butterflies aren’t even a clade. They’re just different families of moths that have evolved along similar lines.


Insect Settings

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The problem with photographing insects in New York is that I get maybe 4 good months, and then it’s back to birds for 8 months. By the time insect season rolls around again, I’ve forgotten what I figured out last time. So once and for all, let me write this down.

FYI, these settings are all for relatively stationary insects and a 1:1 100mm macro lens. Butterflies and dragonflies (i.e. large flying insects) with a telephoto lens are something else entirely.

Daytime, no flash

wasp collecting pollen

  • f/8, maybe f/11 for deeper insects
  • shutter speed 1/400 s or faster
  • ISO 400-1600 as necessary to get the shutter speed up.
  • Check your histogram

Consider using a tripod, cable release, and/or reflector.


Moth Monday Cheats

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

First of all it’s Tuesday, and second of all this is a Sachem Skipper, which, depending on whom you talk to, isn’t a moth at all, but rather a butterfly (or maybe not–read on). However the real moths are getting rather thin on the ground around here as winter approaches, and unless I take a trip to warmer climes sometime soon, Moth Monday may have to go on hiatus until Spring.

Black-spotted Orange Butterfly
Sachem Skipper, Atalopedes campestris, Hodges #4049
Prospect Park, 2009-09-20

However the real taxonomic story is a little more complicated. Perhaps noticing all publicity the American Museum of Natural History got by demoting Pluto from planetary status, the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History put up signs in its live butterfly and moth exhibit telling visitors that there is no scientific difference between butterflies and moths.

Moth Monday: One From the Vaults

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Moths are getting a little scarce around here right now, especially on a cold rainy weekend like we just had, so here’s a Straight-toothed Sallow caterpillar from a couple of summers ago at Ridgewood Reservoir recently identified by Tom Murray:

Straight-Toothed Sallow, Eupsilia vinulenta, Hodges #9933
Ridgewood Reservoir, Queens, New York, June 9, 2007

I’ve never seen an adult, but you can see some pictures at BugGuide, Butterflies and Moths of North America, and the Moth Photographers Group.

Moth Monday Repeats Itself: Chickweed Geometer

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Chickweed Geometer was one of the first moths I posted here, but these days I have much better camera equipment:

yellow-tan moth on white flower
Haematopis grataria
Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, 2009-10-04


Moth Monday at Fort Tilden: Lucerne Moth

Monday, October 5th, 2009

I spent yesterday wandering around Fort Tilden, Jacob Riis Park, and Floyd Bennett Field with the Brooklyn Bird Club. Moths were everywhere. Most of them were large, skinny, and well hidden. They’d flutter up in front of you as you walked through the grass, then disappear into the grass where they’d hide behind a blade of grass. However I did manage to track a few to their resting place. Usually this would immediately spook them again, but I did get decent shots of a couple including this Lucerne Moth:

Gray brown moth in grass

Nomophila nearctica, Hodges#5156
Fort Tilden, Queens, 2009-10-04