Like summer

Yesterday afternoon the high temperature reached 85°F/29°C.  I spent the day in shorts and a t-shirt.  Though this kind of weather does little to evoke the holiday spirit, it does bring out critters who take advantage of the warmth.  And though I’m hardly in a position to meander far from home right now, I do enjoy the show this urban wildlife refuge brings right to my doorstep.

The plethora of flying and crawling arthropods shared all that sunshine with lizards and birds galore.  So much activity from the denizens of warmer times, all of it happening as we speed headlong toward the end of the year.  But it served to remind me of a true summer day, the air abuzz and the ground skittering.  So I wandered through my photo collection to see what patio visitors I had yet to share.

Taken in early summer of 2008, on a day not too unlike yesterday, these photos show what at the time struck me as an unusual example of its kind.  Sure, it’s a leaf-footed bug, but it’s not a little tank like so many of its cousins.

A leaf-footed bug (Merocoris distinctus) on my patio fence (20080629_08647)

I first spied this unhurried creature as it lumbered along the patio fence.  I gave chase, clicking away as I’m wont to do, all the while wondering about the ID of this little visitor.  It sure looked like a leaf-footed bug, femoral shape looking all too familiar in that regard, yet I’d never seen one that wasn’t all dark and broody and armored-like.

A leaf-footed bug (Merocoris distinctus) crawling along my patio fence (20080629_08653)

At first glance I failed to find a name.  I then set the images aside—always a big mistake!—and soon they became lost in the growing collection that I never get on top of.  Then in early October of this year I came across them and decided I’d do a little more digging.  But Ted saved me the work with his timely post on the same species.  So after confirming his lead based on our differing locations, I had the name without even trying: Merocoris distinctus.  I thought distinctus was quite appropriate.

A leaf-footed bug (Merocoris distinctus) crawling along my patio fence (20080629_08659)

As I chased the poor thing with the lens all up in its business, it meandered by a dry bit of bird poop.  At that point I had to stop and laugh since it would certainly look to the outside observer that I was indeed photographing bird droppings, especially given the bug’s small size and camouflage colors against the fence.

9 thoughts on “Like summer”

  1. First, +29C is ridiculous. It’s -10C here today; and that’s fairly mild compared to some of the weather we’ve had lately. Yeesh.

    But more importantly, that is a COOL bug! My eyes were drawn first to those incredible hind legs…they remind me of flea beetles…

    1. Ridiculous. Yes, that’s a good way to describe the weather down here. More than wanting cold weather so it actually feels like winter, what we really need–desperately–is precipitation. We’ll take it in any form, otherwise this fire season is going to SUCK!

      You know, when I first got a look at this little guy, I noticed the hind legs and immediately said aloud, “Wow, dude, somebody’s been workin’ out.”

    1. “Scabrous” works just as well, Joy, and I admit my first thought about its appearance was that it looked scabby with just the right colors and textures.

  2. That has always been my favorite leaf-footed bug – small but very distinctive(-us).

    Nice photos – I gather these were taken with natural light? Impressive considering how small the species is – you must be real good at minimizing camera shake.

    1. You know, Ted, I feel the same way. Other leaf-footed bugs have the same general presentation going on. This one is small enough and different enough to stand out from the crowd.

      Yes, the photos were taken with natural light. I’d say 99.9% of my photos are taken hand-held*, so I’ve developed a pretty steady hand and an appreciation for the right settings to reduce camera shake.

      * I honestly don’t remember the last time I used a tripod or flash.

  3. 29C ? That’s quite a temperature given that here in the UK we’re in the clutches of a harsh Winter that would rival Narnia for its bleakness. I’m bundled up in a hooded pullover as I write this, trying to summon the courage to go and shower before braving the snow and ice to let out the horses and feed and water them. Shorts and a t-shirt? Oh my!!! (-;

    1. Our winter this year is a stark contrast to last year, Clive. Last winter we had our first white Christmas in over 80 years, we set the largest 24-hour snowfall record, we had regular snow storms from December through March, we had a cold snap that froze most of the lake where I live, and on and on it goes. This year we went the other direction: too warm and not one drop of precipitation, frozen or otherwise. And I have to admit our high temperature yesterday was only 53°F/12°C, so at least now it’s not quite as summer-y. It still doesn’t feel like winter, but at least there’s a bit of hope for rain in the forecast, which is something we desperately need lest the entire state spontaneously combust.

  4. I find myself wanting to experiment with natural light macrophotography myself. What kind of settings do you use? I would think you can’t go too low on the aperature or you’d lose all DOF – slow shutter and pray they don’t move? Bump up the ISO? Happy solstice!

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