Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Crushes: Bugs and Such

Today and yesterday I visited a couple of State Natural Areas in Dane County: Black Earth Rettenmund SNA and Pleasant Valley Conservancy SNA. I wasn't planning a second visit to Pleasant Valley. However, I was pretty confident my missing flash diffuser was dropped somewhere along the path the day before. I was correct.

Pleasant Valley Conservancy, Dane Co, WI

As seems to be the case with many of the prairies this year, little was flowering at Rettenmund. The Prairie Phlox was nearing its end. Wood Lily, Harebell and Virginia Ground Cherry were scattered sparsely and just starting to bloom. A few dense clusters of False Solomon's Seal were hanging on. I expect the Wood Lily and Harebell to peak in a week or so, but have little hope it will be as spectacular as it was when I first visited this place last year. While I would like to see  the Death Camas blooming here in the next week or two, I doubt I will be returning.

Virginia Ground Cherry

Wood Lily

This was my first visit to Pleasant Valley. It seems aptly named. A nice variety of habitat including prairie, oak savanna and oak woods occur along the rolling hills and paths. Bird highlights included active and quite common Red-headed Woodpeckers and a close encounter with a Pileated Woodpecker. Blue-winged Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Field Sparrows and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are some of the resident breeders I heard during my two visits.

As for wildflowers, I was hoping to find some Yellow Lady Slipper, but was not fortunate in that regard. The Lupine and Baptista were prominent and nice to behold.

Taracticus octopunctatus Robberfly, Pleasant Valley Conservancy

It's turning out to be quite the season for insects. In addition to the pervasively annoying biting gnats and mosquitoes, a unique and diverse population of flies and spiders seems never-ending. Robber Flies, Treehoppers, Jumping Spiders and various beetles were among the abounding insects lurking in, among and under the foliage at Pleasant Valley. I even dared to come within millimeters of the plethora of Poison Ivy to photograph some of these buggers. Here are some the highlights:

Dimorphic Jumping Spider (male)

Dimorphic Jumping Spider (male)

Dimorphic Jumping Spider (female)

Unknown fly

Machimus sp. Robber Fly

Treehopper species

Treehopper species
Golden-backed Snipe Fly

At some point in between photographing insects today, I had a bit of an epiphany, a resolution of sorts...to give the cameras a rest. No more photography for the time being...

...not until I create something with my mind, hands and eyes in harmony...in three dimensions.

Because my spirit feels crushed like a bug under the machines, electronics and everything which occurs via the conduit of my computer...

Digital photography simply propels me much too far into the land of machines and vacuous spaces and worlds, where I feel the oxygen being sucked out of my lungs.

While there has been a sense of small achievements and excitement in capturing nature and transforming it into permanent two-dimensional snippets, I am left to wonder the purpose. I question my legacy of a hard drive full of electronic images that most will never see or care to.

Fucking Flies (literally), Machimus sp. Robberfly

So perhaps this is the lesson June wishes to teach me, to resist the machines and change course or simply stick a fork in it...

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