Blue-ringed Dancer Damselfly

Damselflies are the bane of my existence as a photographer — adorable, striking, expressive, and damn near impossible to identify in the field. They are either identified based on some tiny part which was just out of focus or just out of shot, or they start life as one color and turn other colors as…

Brown-Winged Striped Sweat Bee

The brown-winged striped sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) is another victim of Extremely Obvious Naming; it’s unfortunate that this gorgeous, metallic green bee has such a boring name. This is actually a male A. splendens; the abdomens of females are metallic green, and their tibia are furry. Sweat bees (family Halictidae) come in a huge variety…

Green Hoverfly

This shiny little marble is an adult female Ornidia obesa (most likely)…a green hover fly, or syrphid fly. (Like horse flies, female green hover flies have widely separated eyes while males have contiguous eyes, giving them a wrap-around sunglasses look.) I find these little things charming, and they’re apparently fearless: this one hung around to…

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

A common and striking yellow and black butterfly seen across the eastern United States, this is the eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus. It’s a male, because its hindwings have almost no blue — in females, there are big blue patches right above the black parts on the hindwings. Females are actually dimorphic, and have two…

Sylvan Jumping Spider

A new species for me — this tiny dude (females are light brown) was off the marked path and I was unable to get closer, but he was at least kind enough to sit and stare at me long enough for me to get some photos. This is a sylvan jumping spider. Alas, both Colonus…

Yellow Fever Mosquito

Mosquitoes love me; I loathe mosquitoes. I don’t get a lot of photos of them, because if I venture out of my house I must be coated in an inch-thick layer of DEET to repel them. I try to maintain an indifferent, if not affectionate, attitude toward bothersome, scary, or venomous species, but — and…

Tmarus Floridensis

Crab spiders are much like jumping spiders — they don’t build a permanent web, and instead go hunting for their prey. Crab spider have smaller eyes than jumpers (relatively), and the eyes appear to extend out of a “hood” on the head. Their first two pairs of legs are much longer than their last two,…

Metacyrba Punctata

I’ve been told that, when a species does not have a common name, I should give it one. This little fellow deserves one, don’t you think? This handsome Metacyrba punctata jumping spider was wandering around on my garage door when I spotted him. He gave me a few choice leg gestures (“Go away! I’m busy!”)…

Common House Spider

My garage door looks pretty clean from a distance, but upon inspection it has a couple dozen, probably, of these little spiders keeping the local mosquito, gnat, and ant population down (thank you!) A ludicrous number of species are lumped under the name “common house spider”, but these particular individuals are comb-footed or cobweb spiders…

Dog Day Cicada

Growing up in Kentucky and Indiana, I saw one or two of the big “cycles” of the 17-year cicadas. Those periodical cicadas don’t live in Florida, but here we get serenaded each summer by a variety of annual cicadas which brood every year. The dog day cicada (Tibicen canicularis or Neotibicen canicularis, depending on whom…

Hentz Orb-Weaver

This immense nope of a spider, about two inches in diameter and very peeved to be disturbed, was encountered strung, at face-height, across a walking path at the Oakland Nature Preserve in Florida. I originally abandoned Neoscona crucifera (the Hentz orb-weaver) as a possible identification, since Wikipedia says they only get to be an inch…

Broad-tipped Conehead Katydid

Slender, untapered antennae and nearly round eyes distinguish this broad-tipped conehead katydid (Neoconocephalus triops) from some very similar-looking toothpick grasshoppers. About three inches long, and apparently they make some pretty funky noises. This is very probably a male; the ovipositors on the females are very distinct. That top photo was taken with my little mirrorless…