My Slightly Unusual Fascination With Bugs

Aside from weddings and people, I am madly in love with macro photography. I love to get really close to tiny things. I love the colors and geometric shapes of insects and flowers and the small side of nature. It’s a problem for me because I live in a woodsy place that is filled with insects. So, I am constantly running in to grab my camera to snap pictures of a cool bug I find. Sometimes, I just wander around looking for them with camera in hand.

And, in case you were wondering… When I was a kid, my father and I started an extremely large bug collection. We gathered them, euthanized them, and pinned them into a glass and wood-framed display case my dad built for me. I then drew them and researched them and compiled a book of the various bugs I had collected. YES, I DO NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP. I loved it and love bugs still. The difference is that now, I photograph them in all of their glorious colors.

So, now that you have the background on my strange fascination, here are some macro bugs I found recently:

A painted lady on my daisies.

A pollen-covered beetle.

This little spider was soooo small that he looked like a spec of dust to the naked eye.

Tomato worm (Note: He was put to good use as a feast for my chickens… after he had devoured most of a tomato plant).

Katydid.

A swallowtail with slightly shredded wings. Tattered, but still pretty.

My little boy knows I love to take pictures of bugs. So, when he found this dead dragonfly, he was all sorts of excited to surprise me. He saved it all day long and then when I saw him, told me that he had something for me that I could take a picture of. Little sweetie. I love him so.

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Bees – A Mid-Summer Update

We performed our mid-summer beehive check and I am beyond happy to report that things appear to be going very well!

The check was performed on one of the very few cool (85 degree) summer days in the middle of a severe drought that has been plaguing us for most of the season. I have water out for the bees, but have noticed they prefer to get their water from droplets gathering on nearby blades of grass when we water the garden.

On a side note: I asked my husband to remind me to look happy when he photographed the bee session because when I look at the bee pictures, I am usually staring at the comb with a furrowed brow. That’s how I look when I’m thinking hard about something. Sooooo, in these pictures you will notice a goofy smile as I’m studying things and thinking hard.

First, the Langstroth hive was checked. Upon removing the cover, we could see many bees in the top super which meant they had finally moved up to occupy that space. Moving a frame of honey up and spraying the empty foundation with sugar water seems to have worked.

We checked the frames in the top super and had honey, and about for frames of brood (baby bees!!). There were eggs and larvae and all sorts of good things.

We also found the queen–a great thing to find! But, she was not the same queen we had a couple of weeks earlier. She was a new queen. The bees had created a new queen and that smallish swarm of bees that had been seen a couple of weeks ago was likely the old queen leaving the hive. Luckily for me, she left plenty of workers to stay behind. Had it not been for the fact that the original queen was marked with a yellow spot, I would never have even noticed a new queen had taken up residence.

We checked out the bottom super of the hive and noticed lots of drones (boys) in the hive. There were plenty of workers (girls) too. The bees seemed happy and all signs indicated a good working beehive.

On the bottom, we noticed three empty queen cells. they had fallen off to the bottom board so I scooped them up. Obviously one of those queen cells was probably the birthplace of the new queen. We also added another super, moved a frame of honey up and sprayed with sugar water to provide the bees with plenty of room so they can begin stocking up honey and pollen and supplies for winter.

We closed everything back up in that hive and tucked the bees back in for the evening.

Onto the top bar hive we went. The bees had expanded. Only one of the bars we had added to the hive two weeks prior was empty. The bees were constructing new cells on the others in pretty white wax.

We added two new frames and moved all of the others to the brood side of the hive (the side that is full of eggs/larvae). We did not find the queen. However, we did find lots of the good things… eggs, larvae, honey, and pollen which indicate all things are well.

The bees in the top bar hive were also happy and docile.

We closed them up so they could continue working through the drought and hopefully keep building up strong as summer egg rearing will soon turn to winter preparations.

We Don’t Need Movies. We Have Kittens.

Seriously, we do not need to pack up and head out to the movies. We have kittens. They are very entertaining!

They started out all adorable and curious. They were sweet and lovable for a while after they first moved in.

BUT, it wasn’t long before they started exploring.

Once they were comfortable and new their surroundings…

…and discovered toys…

BAM! They went crazy.

These two brothers are everywhere. The action is intense.

They are on the ground.

They are rolling around on toys.

And they are even up high in the air.

When they start going at it, we pull up a chair and watch the excitement. They do all of their own stunts. No body doubles here!

At the end of an hour, they grow weary. They settle down and once again more closely resemble quiet little fuzzballs.

A Year Later

I was so lucky to photography Ashley and Justin when they were expecting their sweet baby girl and then again soon after she arrived (Note: This is a current picture).

… a little more than a year later, I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with this lovely family again.

The baby is now walking.

She is also running and very interested in NOT being still as most 1+ year-olds will do. (I secretly LOVE it when the little ones don’t cooperate and run up on the camera like this…)

I really enjoyed watching her explore the park and following wherever her mood struck her.

Ashley and Justin and the whole family are so patient with their little sweetie and kept smiling and posing just in case their little butterfly landed somewhere near the lens of my camera.

I remember Ashley (and her very best friend) have a fondness for butterflies and I will say I do believe she now has one of her own. Her little girl flew from flower to flower and kept darting here and there with the curiosity of a butterfly.

Thank you Ashley and Justin for the great evening! I am so happy to see how beautiful the children are. Please find the rest of your online album here.

Hummingbird… MOTH?

As I was walking through my front door the other day, I noticed what I thought to be a hummingbird sipping nectar from my bee balm blossoms. There’s nothing unusual about that. I planted the bright flowers for their sweet nectar that attracts bees and hummingbirds mid-summer. I see hummingbirds there often.

But… they typically dart off when I approach. This one did not. It stayed and hovered near the flower. So, I stopped to take a look and noticed it had antennae.

In flight, it looked very much like a hummingbird. So much so that I had to think for a moment that hummingbirds do not have antennae. On further inspection, I saw that it had six legs. With some confusion, I thought to myself that birds do not have six legs. And this was a little smaller. And it had a long curly proboscis (bug tongue).

So, obviously, this was a bug.

I grabbed my camera and snapped some pictures so I had a reference. Then, I reached for my handy bug identification book and found the critter. It was a hummingbird moth. Not a bird at all. It was fat and green like the bird, but not.

I never knew a bird could have a bug doppelganger.

Lauren and Marcus

A beautiful girl, Lauren, made a very beautiful bride one recent summer day.

She had fallen in love with a complete gentleman.

Lauren had carefully planned each and every detail of her wedding from her gown to her flowers.

Marcus had all he needed for the day… friends, family and the girl of his dreams.

The Ponds was a lovely backdrop for a romantic ceremony.

Lauren and Marcus had a perfect day to celebrate. They were surrounded by the love of so many people who care about them and it’s easy to see how happy they make each other.

The wedding party was fun during pictures and even more so during the reception.

Congratulations Lauren and Marcus! I hope you had a magical honeymoon and cannot wait to give you the rest of your pictures. For now, you can go here to view the rest of your online photos.

Dirty Birds

My chickens have found an innovative way to beat the heat.

This is our old fire pit. It is full of ashes. Those three lumps are three of my hens.

They cuddle up in the ashes. And fling the dirt all over their backs.

As tempting as that looks… I think I will stick to the pool where the clean critters hang out in the summer heat.

Our dog found this one hanging out by the pool.

He looks like he’s having WAY more fun than the chickens!