One, of the many, things I enjoy about nature photography is the ability to observe & discover much more than you typically would with the naked eye alone.
While hiking at Parfrey's Glen near Merrimac, WI, this delightful butterfly posed for me along the trail.
The most interesting thing about the Hackberry Emperor is that the caterpillars feed exclusively on the several species of hackberry trees/shrubs - hence their name! As hackberry trees grow, so grow Hackberry Emperors.
Another interesting fact: You won’t find the adults on flowers – instead, they like dripping sap, rotten/fermenting fruit, carrion, and animal droppings. They get moisture and minerals from puddle edges, and they sip sweat from animals, including humans!
“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun And find your shoulder to light on, To bring you luck, happiness and riches Today, tomorrow and beyond."
― Irish Blessing
After capturing this bug up close on a Queen Anne's Lace, I learned he is a Pennsylvania Leatherwing beetle - also called a Goldenrod Soldier beetle.
These flower-loving beetles are beneficial in the garden since they feed on soft bodied insects such as aphids and so act as pest controllers. They also play a role in pollination, similar to butterflies and bees.
Another interesting fact - these beetles defend themselves by producing droplets of white fluid from openings on the sides of their abdomen. The droplets contain an acid that act as a deterrent to many of the beetle’s potential natural enemies.
"You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you!"
― Andy Warhol
Spotted Cucumber Beetle
Small, green black-spotted beetles do exist! The colorful Spotted Cucumber beetle is greenish yellow with six black spots on each wing cover. The body is a more distinct oval than most ladybug species and the antennae are more noticeable.
These beetles, however, are a garden's worst nightmare! They are a major agricultural pest insect. In adult form, they eat and damage the leaves of many crops, including cucumbers, beans, cotton, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, melons and more. In the larval form, which is known as the southern corn rootworm, they tunnel through the roots of young plants, stunting their growth or killing them.
"She sat down in a weed patch, her elbows on her knees, and kept her eyes on the small mysterious world of the ground. In the shade and sun of grass blade forests, small living things had their metropolis."