So I'm doing some yard work and walk by our "Butterfly Bush" - it's
really called that because it attracts them. On one branch,
I notice a Painted Lady Butterfly frantically flapping its wings,
but not going anywhere. I look closely, but can't figure out what is
going on. So I grab my Canon 50D DSLR with the 55-250 lens attached in order to take some close-up pictures.
When I come back outside, the Painted Lady was now hanging from the
branch, but not moving. After a few minutes of looking closely, I
realize there was a much smaller bug clamped on the head of the butterfly.
As I was to find out, this is an Ambush Bug of the Phymata species.
These predaceous insects have strong front legs with hooked claws and
stealthily stay well camouflaged as they lay in wait for unsuspecting victims.
So while I wasn't able to get any pictures of the actual battle
between the Ambush Bug and Painted Lady butterfly, here's some
pictures of the aftermath - nature is pretty amazing.
Ambush Bug with Painted Lady Butterfly - mouseover image to see close-up picture! ;-)
Super close-up of the Ambush Bug from the Phymata species
Side views - mouseover images to see close-up picture
Back side of the Painted Lady Butterfly and Ambush Bug - mouseover image to see close-up picture
Wide angle view of the Butterfly Bush
The late afternoon Sun lit up the butterfly's wings nicely - crop from above picture
A nearby blue garbage can provided a colorful backdrop - mouseover image to see another similar picture
One more close-up ... that is one scary looking bug!!!
Ambush Bug uses its Beak to Suck the Butterfly's Body Fluids - yikes!
Use the controls to play, step, pause, slow-down, and/or speed-up the animation.
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Another sequence of the Ambush Bug and the Painted Lady Butterfly
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Photography Notes: As mentioned, these pictures were
taken with a Canon 50D DSLR with a 55-250 lens attached which has a
minimum focusing distance of 3.6 feet. This isn't a true Macro lens (which
typically provide a magnification factor of 1x), but at 0.31x at 250mm telephoto, it's pretty decent ... and the 400mm equivalent allows me not to disturb the subject too much.
Depth of field at F/5.6 is 0.1" ... increasing to a whopping 0.3" at F/14 ... so accurate focus is
very challenging, especially since this was "in the wild" with
things moving around. My technique is to use manual focus at closest range,
and then move myself back-n-forth until (using my 46 year old eyes) it
looks sharpest in the viewfinder.
There certainly were a number of fuzzy pictures, but as can be seen above,
some came out pretty decent.
Too bad I don't have a Canon 7D since HD movie would have been very cool.
All taken Sep 17th, 2009 on a warm sunny Fall afternoon.
I have a lot of respect for Macro Photographers - especially after taking pictures of a Bee Stinger
and Ladybugs Humping - it's hard! ;-)