47 thoughts on “The Prairie Prognosticator

    1. It was a very small sphere, indeed. In fact, it was so tiny I didn’t see it until I was home and looking at the photos on the computer. There were several thistles covered with the insects, but I decided to focus on this one, and I’m glad I did.

        1. That is very true and sometimes even informs field activity afterwards. The computer helps to learn what you caught and to look for it next time. Serendipity turning into purpose?

          1. I’ve added a new phrase to my working vocabulary, Judy. Along with “What in the world is that?” I’m starting to find “Would you look at that!” Useful. (Now I need to find out how to uncapitalize a letter on this smart device that thinks it should be there because it thinks I ended a sentence. Silly machine.)

    1. I must say, I’m becoming rather intrigued by these small bits of life. When this one stopped its leisurely stroll around the thistle and looked at me, it was amusing and just slightly unnerving to sense that I was being given the once-over by that attentive eye.

      1. I loved these as a kid. We had lots of them around the farm. They are like Tinker Toys. Mom always made us make sure they pet of the day had water, shade, and had the thread leash removed pretty quickly. (even if our prehistoric world recreation wasn’t quite done.
        They were the good insects and ate the annoying ones.
        That’s one of the best and coolest pictures of one I’ve ever seen

  1. I love the genus name of leaf-footed bugs…at least this particular genus. And I agree with Steve that the little water drop…dew?…adds a nice element to the image. It’s still a touch early for ours to appear, but with 70’s or even a possible 80° coming midweek the insects will be back for another go round.

    1. Yes, I’m sure it was dew. It had been a damp morning, and I was out fairly early. I have a nice profile view that shows the “leafy” foot, as well as his probing around the thistle, but the drop enchanted me.

  2. Merlin is too nice of a name for an insect with his stick like structure. I know he must have a purpose, but I would not want to encounter him on any day.

    1. What’s funny, Tamara, is that I’ve always disliked these things. I usually encounter them when they’re in flight, and they’re so fast and noisy that they startle me.

      But the macro lens makes him seem far larger than he actually is. This one was about an inch long: perhaps an inch and a quarter. That’s what makes the dewdrop so amazing to me. I never would have imagined you could see such a small insect carrying an even smaller dewdrop.

      1. The macro lens makes him look ugly. He looks like one of those mindless robots who is on the ‘bad guys’ side. I’m going to focus on the dewdrops next time. :)

    1. I’m not sure, Curt. Perhaps you’ll find his larger cousin out in the desert this summer, and can inquire. (Doesn’t he look as though he belongs with the mutant vehicles at Burning Man?)

    1. I thought so. When I was reading about these bugs, I learned that they will overwinter, snug as bugs in — well, whatever. Maybe a rug, or maybe just a pile of leaf debris. Then, spring draws them out, and I’m sure they’re just as happy as we are to have it arrive.

  3. I think photography is turning you into an amateur zoologist, well and botanist, making sure of all the scientific names and everything!! Photography makes one more observant but also want to give the beast its true name!! You captured great texture with this one along with the little water drop. I love water drops too.

    1. I tried and tried to get a decent photo of an osprey this year, Judy, so that I could pair it with a poem in my “Poet’s Birds” series. If I can’t get one before they leave, I’ll borrow a photo from you, because the poem addresses precisely that issue: the importance of naming in general, but also scientific names. Imagine — in a poem.

      I was astonished by the details in this little guy, and that texture was something that fascinated me. I tend to think of bugs as smooth, but of course they aren’t — at least, not all. Of course, my favorite childhood bug was a ladybug, which isn’t true bug at all, but a beetle. The first time I heard a conversation about “lady beetles,” I had no idea what they were talking about. When I said, “Oh! You mean ladybugs” the level of disapproval in the room went up a notch.

      1. My ospreys are your ospreys!! Insects are actually amazingly interesting and I love the insect macro photography experts…the variety of our wonderful world. Even though I could do without the spiders and mosquitoes. Though spider venom as with many poisons, has its medicinal value. So I guess it is always a case of take the good with the bad. Big Sigh!!

        Well as a true Ursula Le Guin fan, I like to know the True Name of everything as it gives you a sense of power over it from the stand point of knowledge at least.

        BTW…..everyone knows it is Lady Bugs!!! Beetles harrumph!!!! :)

    1. That’s ok. You and Tamara can focus on the dew drop and ignore the bug. Personally, I have trouble with even the greatest photo of a millipede, having been traumatized by one in the woods several years ago. There’s nothing like rolling over a log and discovering a long, black thing that looks straight out of Grade B movie fame. I predict a nice flower for my next post.

    1. I had thought they’re pestier than they apparently are. Hordes of them do damage in places like citrus groves, but it seems that a nibble here and there is the worst of it for a garden llike yours. The “world of what lives among the flowers” is fascinating. I knew about the bees, and some of the more obvious insects, but there’s far more — as you certainly know.

  4. Excellent shot. I see that other folks love the droplet, too – – having that balanced on his…arm, or leg, as the case may be, helps make me like this guy. To me, he’s like the old bulldog living next door – they’re both so homely, you have to like ’em! And how can you not like a fella that likes a wee drop now and again?!

    1. Now, that’s funny — the wee drop. It would have made an equally good story about the image — which is part of the delight of photos, and a darned deep truth about the world. We’re always imposing one story line or another on what we see around us.

      I actually think he has that drop balanced on his proboscis, rather than an arm or a leg. That along would make your interpretation more likely. Can you imagine a group of these at a tasting party?

    1. You sound like me in front of certain modernist paintings. I can say, “Oh….. interesting” with the best of them! I’m glad you liked the little “crystal ball,” though!

  5. Because of a vast mismatch in scale we overlook these strange alien creatures. Their world is the same as ours, and yet is so very, very different.

    1. A mismatch in scale, indeed. Even including his antennae, he was only as long as my little finger. Looking at all the details of him roaming his world, I can’t help thinking about all the marvels we miss in the course of a day.

    1. He’ll never win any beauty contests, but his place on the “interesting” scale is pretty far up there. If it hadn’t been for the dew drop, he might not have made the page — more proof for the power of accessorizing, if we needed it!

    1. Isn’t it strange how often we assume that any fortune teller will have only bad news to share? Of course there is good in the future, too — which is why I imagined this one seeing the arrival of summer. Of course, I imagined only a flower-filled, breezy, and beautiful summer. No storms, thank you very much.

      By the way, I saw Chris at a meeting last night, and she mentioned that she’s planning on coming back to Ecuador in October. Clearly, she had a wonderful time.

  6. :-) Very funny! And what an amazing thing, to see that little bead of water there…did you see it at the time, or not until later? BTW, I just fixed my problem of falling behind with your blog…it helps to subscribe! Groan.

    1. I didn’t have a clue the dew drop was there until I came home and looked at the image on the computer. I was only interested in the bugs, and didn’t even see the drop when I reviewed the photo in the (quite literal) field. That’s turning into one of the great pleasures of wildflower photography. There’s always at least one surprise when I come home. Last night, I found a flower I had missed in one photo. We just can’t see everything at once, and when we’re focused on this, we inevitably miss some thats.

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