Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Let's be careful out there"

I was drawn to her, as she to the flower.
A Spring Azure the size of a dime, sipping slowly from Boneset in the field of goldenrod. Another of the Gossamer-winged, another Blue, in a rare moment of rest.

I inched the camera slowly forward, catching a picture every several inches until I was almost on top of her. Marveling at her fine features magnified by my lens—the coal black eyes, white-feathered legs, banded antennae…how perfectly lovely on one so small.

Abruptly, her wings flew open and it seemed she lunged forward, further into the flower from which she’d been feeding.
Then fluttered strongly, the dusty blues in reverse.

She’d been caught—in that instant. The powerful mantis-like front legs of an even smaller Ambush Bug held her firmly, while the toxin from its mouth acted fast.

I hadn’t seen her hiding within the white bloom--her light green forelegs the color of plant stems, orange eyes upon a cryptic face, so flower-like. As she waited, poised to snatch a visitor to her flower.

Within seconds both were still.
The open wings of gossamer blue, quiet.

I returned to the field the next morning.
On the leaf below, were 4 blue wings.

Ambush Bugs, Phymata sp., mating pair

click photos to enlarge
(do you see the Ambush Bug waiting in the first photo?)

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Anonymous said...

That is an amazing capture of the fleeting thing that is life. Well done.

NCmountainwoman said...

You never cease to amaze me. This is absolutely one of your best. Great photos and documentation of the unfortunate (but very natural) incident.

I am in awe.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating story and photos. Survival of the fittest...

Lynne said...

Fabulous Nina.
We all see differently with our eyes but I so enjoy seeing through yours.

Cicero Sings said...

It is amazing what you see and are able to capture on film! You are so in tune with your surroundings.

KGMom said...

Oh my--nature red in tooth and claw, even when it is green.
The ephemerality of this post almost makes me want to cry, even though I know butterflies have short lives, and I know ambush bugs have to live to. . .still!?!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

This is a captivating photo-story with, as often occurs in nature, not a happy ending. I continue to be amazed at your talents.

nina said...

This is just the case of being in the right place at the right time.
So often I see things others have found and wonder, "Why can't I find something like that?"
Sometimes when we are watching, we see something we wish we hadn't.

dguzman said...


I marvel at and hate those death moments, all at the same time.

KatDoc said...

Wow, Nina - real life and death drama, in miniature.

You never cease to amaze me.

BTW, I did go back and look for the ambush bug in the first photo. I found it, but only because you told me it was there.

Too cool!


Island Rambles Blog said...

I am just back catching up on your blog Nina, as always a dramatic and powerful story of such a tiny intricate detail of nature, how you got that on camera..I don't know!!!...cheers

bobbie said...

The azures are so lovely. I would have been very upset to see this happening. I know it's inevitable and part of the natural world, but I hate it. Your post is marvelous.

Greg said...

What a moment to capture. Great images.

You've helped solve a three year mystery. I've got some boneset growing in my garden, even moved it from the last location, but until this morning had no idea what it was.

Thank you!!

Dog_geek said...

Eeeks! I may have nightmares!

Robin Easton said...

I am so glad to meet you and am I simply LOVE what you wrote on the sidebar of your blog. It's like you took words right from my heart! The photos are beyond precious and completely reflect someone who really "sees" nature, and sees the detail of nature. I am so excited being here. Thank you my friend for contacting me. What a gift! Robin

Kerri said...

Wow! You were in the right place at the right time...unfortunately little blue butterfly was not.
You are amazing with your photos and your narrative!

Susan Gets Native said...

I have never ever gotten a pic of a blue's wings from the top. You amaze me.
And then to see those tiny wings laying flat with the life snuffed oh man.

Jennifer said...

Your description of how you inched up on the butterfly! That's how I TRY to get closeup shots, too... So I giggled... Then as I read on and the ambush bug... My reaction was audible. My husband wondered what was going on...

Lisa said...

And the mixed media artist thinks: Oooh! did you save those wings?