The WGNSS Photography Nature Group met at Cuivre River State Park on Saturday the 2nd in hopes to find members of Limacodidae (slug moths). Perplexing to me, we struck out in the same time and place I found them in numbers and diversity a year ago.
It was still a good time. We found a number of other macro subjects and explored a couple of new places. I also got to give a first spin to my new lens. A wide-angle macro – the Laowa 15mm f/4 Wide Angle Macro. A rather new lens design and one with a pretty steep learning curve, these photos are really just practice. With time and strategy, I think I can get better at this.
Two areas to focus on in improving with this lens:
1) Getting a better handle on exposing for the environment (background) while getting the right amount of light from the flash to properly expose the foreground macro subject. I think this should be easier to predict with practice. I’m not at all sure that I can ever get it on a first try.
2) Figuring out how much dof is just right. Sometimes getting more detail in the background will be desirable. Other times, it is best to blur it out to bring focus on the primary subject.
This is a funnel web or grass spider (Agelenopsis spp.) that we found protecting her egg sack on the leaf of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). She will likely guard the eggs here until the winter takes her.
One of the nice finds of the day was this Black-waved Flannel Moth (Megalopygidae – Lagoa crispata (4644)). One of the key features of this lens is being able to focus close enough to the primary subject for macro-level detail while capturing so much more in the subject’s environment. In this case, I tried to give the perspective of what it may be like for the bug when being discovered by entomologists or nature photographers. Pictured left to right are WGNSS members Rich Thoma, Dave Seidensticker and Casey Galvin.
After the group disbanded at Cuivre River SP, Miguel Acosta and I decided to visit and explore Little Lost Creek Conservation Area near Warrenton. We hiked about 6 miles and I camped there the following evening. I took a quick photo hike in the morning and found these two Brown Stink Bugs (Pentatomidae – Euschistus servus) in copulation. They didn’t like that lens being so close and kept moving to the opposite side of the boneset (Eupatorium) blooms.
We were quite fortunate during our first summer of hunting for “slug” caterpillars – members of the moth family Limacodidae who get their name from their absence of prolegs, which are replaced by a sucker that enables them to move quite similarly to a true slug. We (Sarah, Steve and I) were fortunate because we were able to locate and photograph ten species of slugs. I had read about these fascinating animals before, but never realized how abundant and diverse they actually were in the Missouri Ozarks. Yes, a good amount of work and patience is necessary to find them – I don’t want to tally up the hours, but it was time well spent outdoors.
I’ve decided to begin sharing these images with a species that is probably most well known of those who have heard of the slugs – the aptly named saddleback caterpillar. As can be seen in the image below, the saddleback wears a green saddle, bordered with white. Also apparent in these images are the urticating (stinging) hairs that are concentrated along fleshy nobs located at both ends of the caterpillar. These spines are found on a number, but not all of the caterpillars in this family and are capable of delivering a painful sting that is quite similar to that of the stinging nettle plant.
The image below shows the ocellus, or eyespots, which are actually on the posterior end of the animal.
Finally, the anterior end – the animal’s head is nicely hidden under a few fleshy folds that are armed with spiny protuberances.
I look forward to sharing more examples of this fascinating group of Missouri slugs in the near future.
Belonging to the family of moths called Saturniidae, the Imperial Moth can reach up to six inches. Many members of this family are large-bodied and short-lived as adults – typically living only one or two weeks and not feeding in this stage. This female was attracted to lights during a national moth week event at Cuivre River State Park on July 31, 2016.