Monday, September 19, 2011

Some Non-Odonate Critters

When you spend a lot of time searching for odonates, you naturally come across lots of other fascinating animals. I thought I’d share some of the more interesting non-odonate critters that I have photographed over the years. So no dragonflies or damselflies this time around, but I hope you enjoy it.

Doros aequalis, a wasp-mimicking syrphid fly in the central Oregon Cascades. According to commenters at, this species is relatively widespread across northern North America, but is rather infrequently encountered. The photo I submitted to BugGuide in 2009 is still the only one for this species, so it must be pretty scarce!
Another bee-mimicker, but this time a scarab beetle: Lichnanthe rathvoni. One day I was looking for Olive Clubtails (Stylurus olivaceus) on the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, and a bunch of these scattered from the upper part of the beach as I made my way through young willows and cottonwoods. I must have found them at their peak that day because I haven't seen them in such numbers since. Got to love those crazy antennae! Thanks to Chris Marshall for identifying these.
Near a hot spring in southern Malheur County, Oregon, I came across a congregation of young Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) at their den. A few more youngsters and their parents were scattered around the vicinity, but these three posed very nicely at the burrow.
During a late night drive to the Alvord Basin in southeast Oregon, I found several of these katydids, Capnobotes occidentalis, which come in green and gray forms. These are both females with their long, sword-like ovipositors. The gray one was apparently trying to oviposit in the asphalt, but I can't imagine that she got very far. Thanks to Ron Lyons for identifying these.
The drive that produced the katydids above also produced a large number of Great Basin Spadefoots (Scaphiopus intermontanus) on the road. Pretty adorable as toads go, I think.
Hmm, I seem to focus on bee/wasp mimics and here's another one: the robber fly Laphria astur. I found this one on a log while hiking to a lake (to see odonates, of course) in the southern Oregon Cascades. Thanks to Rob Cannings for identifying this one.
A Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in Oregon's Alvord Basin. I never have the right lens on my camera for photographing these when I find them, but this one turned out pretty well even if the rattle isn't visible. I think the blue tongue is a nice touch.
I have a particular fondness for tiger beetles, and this emerald green Cow Path Tiger Beetle (Cicindela purpurea) was on a different kind of path (walking/biking) at a great odonate spot—Lake of the Woods in the southern Oregon Cascades.
Yeah, definitely a thing for Hymenoptera mimics. Here are two views of a jumping spider (maybe Phidippus apacheanus) which is an apparent velvet ant mimic. The iridescent blue chelicerae are mesmerizing. This was at a hot spring in Oregon's Alvord Basin—my favorite area to look for odonates.