Best of 2011

In the spirit of the holidays and some of my favorite insect and photography blogs I have decided to post my 10 favorite photos from 2011.  The past year has been a very busy one, with little time to dedicate to photography or other passions of mine, still 2011 presented some wonderful opportunities and I'm quite happy with some of the resulting photographs:
Synchlora aerata
I got my first macro lens last winter when there were very few insects to point it at.  I was thrilled to find this Camouflaged looper on parsley we had brought inside, with pieces of its host plant attached to its back to disguise it from predators.
Cedar Waxwing
A flock of Cedar Waxwings found this Bradford pear tree behind my parents house on a cold January day and I shot out of an open second story window until I couldn't feel my fingers.  I took about 300 exposures and this was the best - not bad for a 100 mm lens.  The following week the tree did what Pyrus calleryana does best, and split apart in a storm.

Peony with water droplets
Spring came early at Longwood Gardens.  When the outside weather was blustery, it was always warm and lush inside.
Summer Skimmer
Summer brought many interesting dragonflies to our native wildflower garden, including this beautiful Libellulid skimmer with shimmering golden wings.
Paraphidippus aurantius
This Copper salticid jumping spider was awesome, and one of my first tries at this style portrait.  The spider's abdomen is as shiny as a penny.  I am a sucker for shiny things.
Gold-dust day gecko
I previously posted about Phelsuma laticauda.  They are an invasive species in Hawaii, but they are rather photogenic.
Fiddlehead, Hawaii
I snapped this without thinking much about it and forgot about the photo until I was putting this list together.  I really like how it turned out.
Chelonia mydas
The green sea turtles in Hawaii were fascinating, and Kiri's waterproof point and shoot camera was great fun.  Unfortunately, most of the corals in this shot have been killed by people touching them.  It makes me think that the turtle is wise to be hiding from human destruction.
Mile-a-minute weevil
Rhinoncomimus latipes is a biological control agent for the introduced mile-a-minute weed.  This one got to be my first experiment with off camera flash.
Erythrina sandwicensis
The Wiliwili tree is an endangered Hawaiian native.  I saw this one on the roadside and we came back for a sunset photo session.  The tree was great but Kiri is my favorite photographic subject.  Happy New Year!

Brown Marmorated Merry Christmas!


This (not-so) Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) was encountered during the Christmas display setup at Longwood Gardens.  This bug had been overwintering among decorations in a barn.  While the ornaments were being painted silver, it was found crawling away with a new festive look.

For me this photo marks the beginning of a new adventure.  In 2012 I will be working with the USDA on biological control of Bown marmorated stink bug.  The bug was introduced from Asia to Pennsylvania in 1998, and is well known in much of the United States as a Autumn home invader.

Halyomorpha halys finding its way inside

Many people do not realize that this indoor nuisance is a serious agricultural pest of soybeans, corn, fruit trees, and other crops.  In 2010 Pennsylvania stink bugs caused an estimated 25% crop loss in apple orchards.  The USDA is evaluating several species of wasps that attack stink bugs to determine if they are effective against the pest but safe for other organisms.  More on that to follow in the coming year.

Incidentally, silver spray paint works as a feeding preventative but does not quickly kill stink bugs, leaving me ample time to take photographs.  It did eventually die, prompting the declaration that it was 'the ghost of Christmas pest.'
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