Spring and summer have been slow to arrive in west Michigan. Cool temperatures clung to the area throughout the month of May. Even now, the Oak Trees and some Maples are just starting to fully leaf out. Fortunately this is all coming to an end – with a notable wave of hot and humid weather in the forecast for the first week of June.
Of course, the cool weather hasn’t been good for insect photography. I’ve made several trips out to the Allegan Forest, looking for dragonflies and other insect subjects. Until earlier this week, the pickings have been slim.
A few Dot Tailed Whiteface dragonflies have popped up around some of the ponds and small lakes in the past week or so. So far, I’ve seen only immature subjects – dragonflies with a distinctive white face and yellow/orange bands on their bodies. As they mature the colors should fade, with only one yellowish dot on the outer part of the abdomen.
On the cool days the dot-tails tend to keep close to the ground. The sandy slope leading away from a vernal marsh in the Allegan Forest has proven to be a good hunting ground for these insects, but by and large I’ve been trying to photograph subjects who are resting on the sand or just inches above it. The individual perching, above, was on a plant stem just a few inches above the ground, so getting the shot meant laying down in the mucky soil along the edge of the marsh to get at eye level with the subject.
One surprise that came in the last few days was the arrival of lots of clubtail dragonflies in the fields north of the Kalamazoo River. Clubtails are large and colorful, but usually keep in the foliage and don’t perch out in the open – so I was happy to see the subject below take up a position on a dried knapweed flower.
A few butterflies are also making their way into the scene – spice bush, red spotted purples, and the uncommon eastern swallowtail all pop up from time to time. Smaller azures and hairstreaks can also be spotted. American coppers remain a favorite. These tiny but determined butterflies stake and defend their territories, but also make great photo subjects when you can catch them.
Hot weather is in the forecast – so I expect an explosion of insects in the next few days. More photographs from today: