Getting into focus

Last year’s big Christmas present was a new macro lens, which I didn’t get around to using until spring, because frankly it was too cold to try macrophotography outdoors last winter.  Apparently, I didn’t use it very much even then, because it was much easier to select the top ten “small things” photos than it was for the birds. But here they are — the top 10 macro shots of 2014, chosen for their color, variety, and potential biological interest.


An Orange Bluet male on a smooth, contrasting background of green.  I never saw one like this again, after I took this photo.


The contrast of black in the Black Swallowtail on the white of the Dutchman’s Breeches was the basis for this choice.  Finding nectar in early spring can be a challenge for early emerging butterflies.

In contrast to the shot above, the Tiger Swallowtail in a sea of summer wildflowers is quite colorful.

In contrast to the shot above, the Tiger Swallowtail in a sea of summer wildflowers had numerous choices from a variety in the wildflower garden.

squash borer moth

It’s difficult to choose such a noxious pest insect like the Squash Borer Moth for this collection, but it is a colorful insect caught in mid-flight (in focus!)

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Another moth, rarely seen at rest — the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe).

band-winged meadowhawk

One of several species of meadowhawks difficult to tell apart in their juvenile stages. They were very abundant in the wildflower garden this summer, hopefully gobbling up the many mosquitoes there.

sweat bee on spiderwort

I never realized what a popular flower Spiderwort is to insects. The Green Sweatbees, hoverflies, and bumblebees stocked up on its pollen in early spring.

leadplant flower moth, Schinia lucens (1)

Another rare visitor to the back yard (well, really a neighbor’s front yard) was this Leadplant Flower Moth, a specialist on said plant.  Read more about it here.

female black horse fly mouth parts

If you have ever been bitten by a 2-inch horsefly, here’s why it hurt. Those are a couple of shearing scissors up front in its mouthparts.

milkweed leaf beetles (Labidomera sp.) mating

And lastly, the colorful Milkweed leaf beetles attempting to mate on a milkweed leaf. It’s more of a humorous shot really, since this male tried every which way to get into position.