As a naturalist who has a fondness for birds, I tend to look at the world with long-ranging gazes. I carry a big honkin’ lens on my camera so that I can get shots of small birds in distant places. On weekend mornings, my favorite way to spend the first hour is with a cup of coffee and binoculars, sitting by one of my favorite windows, watching the birds and squirrels.

My precious-as-gold “outside time” has been severely limited of late, so I’ve taken full advantage of my own gardens around my home to get my nature fix.  My limited time outdoors prompted me to “go light” and only take my short lens (18-55mm, f 3.5-5.6). Perfect time to look around for something to contribute to An Inordinate Fondness (AIF), the blog carnival dedicated to beetles. Those “dang beetles” who have evaded my camera for months, have caused me to mumble incoherently to myself every time I step outside. Thank you very much, Ted (Ted MacRae, founder of AIF).

I offer this preamble as a backdrop for the announcement of an important discovery: my Macro Vision.  It was almost an epiphany, truly sublime. With a little time and a mission, I began crawling around the edge of my pond on my knees, camera in-hand.  At first, it was hard for me to focus on anything directly in front of me. I had to force myself to look at 12 inches instead of 12 feet. When I was finally able to to lock in at a 12-18 inch range…bang! I started seeing things in big, bold colors, and previously unnoticed microcosms opened up in 3-D.

The following images are presented in full-frame, or nearly so, followed by cropped images zoomed in at 100%. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…my Macro Vision!

Syrphid Fly, probably Toxomerus geminatus-full frame

Syrphid Fly, probably Toxomerus geminatus-closeup

Look! This Syrphid Fly (probably Toxomerus geminatus) has a fine pattern of black and gold to rival the most ornately gilded furniture. And that wildflower – the color!

This photo captures 3 animals clinging to the same wildflower (no time to attempt wildflower ID tonight, folks)

This is a young beetle, in a stage of its life cycle called a pupa.

This one is blurry, but it looks like an insect that might fall into the Order Hemiptera, which includes True Bugs.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica u. howardi)

This beetle (Ha! I found one!) is almost the same color as the pollen-laced center of the flower. And I can’t tell for sure, but there may even be a fourth insect on the flower petal…

This is the “spark” that ignited my Macro Vision. This insect (maybe a tree cricket, Oecanthus sp.) figuratively “popped” into view when I was able to bring my focus to within 12 inches of my face. Me and that insect…we shared a moment, just looking at each other.

Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris) on wild carrot

Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris) on wild carrot-closeup

Very interesting overall pattern on this Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris). The plant is a variety of wild carrot – and neither the insect nor the plant are particularly desirable by gardeners…but they are welcome to have a jolly-good time at my backyard pond.

At first, I thought this was a beetle, and I got all excited about having something besides a Lady Bug or Cucumber Beetle to offer up for AIF. Since I am only beginning to learn more about insects, it took me a LONG time to identify this one. I think this is another True Bug, maybe a White-margined Burrower (Sehirus cinctus). I like this bug’s white stripe – makes him look “sporty.”

This might be another Tarnished Plant Bug – but a different angle. Whatever the species, he looks like he OWNS that plant.  And look at the hairs on that plant – cool. Look at the leaf petal, whose curl brings to mind a wood shaving. And those great saturated colors…isn’t it great that something so simple can be so wonderful?

This one almost escaped my new Macro Vision. It’s tiny! And again with the great saturated colors – and pretty nice camouflage too.

Maybe another Syrphid Fly, but it looks a bit different. That rich golden pollen coating the insect really contrasts the the more fluorescent yellow of the insects abdomen.

This last set of photos shows what I thought was an ant on a leaf. Upon closer inspection, I saw that this was really an insect with wings…but probably not an ant. I’m guessing this is a species of Picture-winged Fly, Genus Delphinia. It moved its wings slowly, forward and backward, but not as if it wanted to take flight.

Whew. So there you have it – about an hour’s worth of my new Macro Vision. If you haven’t yet found yours, go look for it! You won’t be disappointed. :-)

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