September Meeting Recap – Bees, Bugs and Butterflies

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Joan Sayre,  macro photographer extraordinaire and Riverwoods Nature Photographic Society member, returned to our lecture line-up for our September 5 meeting after a two year absence. Many of us will never forget  her last presentation that contained those gorgeous photographs of our Lake County, Illinois early spring visitors, the American White Pelican and Common Loon. This time she selected amazing examples from her extensive collection to present, ?Bees, Bugs & Butterflies?. Once again, her photographs ?WOWED? our audience!


Joan works to capture images of insects that can be smaller than the size of a sunflower seed in its shell. She spends much of the time in her backyard and an adjoining park in Libertyville photographing her insect subjects. She seldom uses a tripod, relying on patience, her steady hands and a 90mm macro lens. Audience members who asked, ?How did you do that?? were rewarded immediately?she?s very generous in sharing her techniques.


A Pollen Covered Green Sweat Bee

First to be presented, were the wasps, hornets and bees which were grouped together. Predator or pollinator, there is so much to admire! Joan aims for the bee on a flower and captures the grains of pollen on the bee?s body hair. Who knew the iridescent blue of the Mud Dauber wasp could be so alluring?


Blue Mud Dauber Wasp







Ambush Bug

Next up, the Bug category (actually the order hemiptera) has sucking mouth parts and non-retracting proboscis. This group is so large that it was split into two: beneficial and non-beneficial. Beneficial insects pollinate our crops or eat other insects. They include the friendly familiar- lacewings and ladybugs- and the exotic warrior- scorpion fly, soldier beetles, ambush bugs.



Scarlet & Green Leafhopper

Some non-beneficial bugs (which damage crops/plants) are leafhoppers, earwigs, annual cicadas. Sound hum-drum? Too plain? Focus on the scarlet & green leafhopper or the harlequin bug. Remember, we are likely to be walking by these tiny beautiful creatures daily.




Dragonfly Wing Attachments

Think you?ve heard everything about the third category: dragonflies, the living dinosaurs?  Look closer with her Nikon D610. Find the wing-edge scale that helps weight the wing (pterostigma). Or, marvel at the 30,000 lens in each eye?with a surprising (non-fatal) injury to one subject. 

Dragonfly Eye Injury (Lower Rt)








Red Admiral with extended proboscis

And finally,  butterflies & moths– such fragile creatures?that taste with their feet and feed with their unfurled proboscis.

There is no over-stating it:  Joan?s extreme close-ups astounded and enchanted us.




Silver-spotted Skipper nectaring on Liatris.

Our discussion included inquiries about the monarch butterfly status, neonicotinoids usage, Illinois Tollway Corridor progress, and climate change. She has spent 10 years documenting insects, ?the little things that run the world?.  In the future, they may be even more important as a database for history.



Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Moth caterpillar


Joan donates some of  her lovely photographs to Lake County Forest Preserve and Conserve Lake County.  If you are intrigued, seek out her work or lectures with either group. ~ Y.K.