Funny faces

I really should go buy a macro lens — these close-ups of heads and eyes are intriguing.  Those are not white dots on top of the eyes, but light reflections off the cluster of ommatidia (see post on June 22 for diagram of dragonfly eyes).  You can almost see the individual ommatidia in the reflection of the meadowhawk below.  Click on any image to get a higher resolution view.

The head of a male Widow Skimmer

The head of a male Widow Skimmer.  Purple-ish eyes and blue mouth parts.

Head of a X-faced Meadowhawk

Head of a female Ruby- or White-faced Meadowhawk (the male has the white face).  It almost seems that the eyes are bi-colored, as they reflect different wavelengths of light from their top and bottom.

white-faced fly

Some kind of hairy fly with a white face and big red eyes.  What does it do with all those long hairs on its back?

Nymph of the Differential Grasshopper (about 1/2 inch long).  Very strange eyes on this critter.

Nymph of the very common Differential Grasshopper (about 1/2 inch long). Very strange eyes on this critter.  What a difference in the size of the eyes of this herbivore vs the predatory dragonflies.

I think I am going to need more camera equipment…these photos were all taken with the Canon 100-400 telephoto lens, which just doesn’t get me close enough on  the tiny critters.

18 thoughts on “Funny faces

  1. These are wonderful close-up shots, Sue. You certainly have enough reach to capture great detail. A macro will let you get in closer, but you have to be a lot closer to the subject, which can be problematic with many of the insects. I too am fascinated by the compound eyes of dragonflies.

    The hairy fly looks a bit like a Tachnid Fly, a parasitic fly that uses a Monarch caterpillar as its host. Check out these two links for photos that look like your fly. and and also this link for more info .

    • Thanks, you are spot on. I found an image on google (Epalpus signifer) that looks just like the one in my photo. Have you seen these flies in your neighborhood?

      • I haven’t seen any of these (and am pretty sure that I would remember if I had). I was poking around a bit on the internet after I saw your post and saw that these had a connection with Monarch butterflies and that caused me to dig a little deeper.

        • Well then, extra kudos to you for your excellent job of research. If this fly really is the species whose similar photo I found, then it parasitizes a moth instead of the Monarch butterfly, which makes me slightly happier about finding it in my backyard.

  2. I can see you now, Sue, with all those lenses. Then you will be like me: always the wrong lens at the ring time! Argh! 🙂

    • Some dragonflies seem to be sit-and-wait hunters, and will pose quite nicely on an exposed branch. Others like to sit in dense vegetation (you notice I don’t have photos of them), and still others like the big Green Darner, that is so common around ponds, fly all the time, so I have no photos of them either. So, it’s a selective few that cooperate for the photo really.

  3. I know that I am a Biologist and I shouldn’t feel this way, but that fly is icky (sorry the 2yo is rubbing off on me). Also, I was going to say the same thing about the macro lens. I used to take super close-ups with my Grandpa’s old Pentax Asahi using extension tubes on his 50mm Takumar, the shorter you want your depth of field to be, the closer you have to get to the subject. I took some pictures where the lens was almost touching the subject. This works for tree bark and spoons, but I doubt those dragons will be as trusting.

    • Yeah, I agree. I don’t much like flies either, but you have to admit it has an interesting face. There is something off-putting about the long, ugly bristles. Dragonflies have shorter, downy-looking hairs, far more attractive ☺

  4. So maybe what I need is an even longer telephoto so I can remain at a distance from skittish subjects while getting “in their face”, so to speak. ☺

    • It’s pie in the sky dreaming. I don’t even know which lens to buy, but there is a Canon 180 mm macro that looks enticing. I’m not really unhappy with what the 400 mm telephoto can do, anyway.

      • It seems a big lens to hand hold. I’ve only done shots with a tripod indoors. I think it would be a lens you would enjoy playing around with but your 400mm telephoto is taking great Macro shots.

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