I can't help it -- I go out into the garden, I see cool bugs, and I just have to take pictures. Some of the creatures I saw today were quite beautiful. Others, not so much. But all were interesting!
Here's my favorite, a tiny little leafhopper (probably Graphocephala coccinea) -- of all the leafhoppers I've seen, I think these guys are the prettiest:
And speaking of pretty tiny things, now that I know about long-legged flies, I keep seeing them everywhere. This one has got a really nice metallic green-and-yellow color-scheme going on, and I love those fancy wings:
Even the "normal" flies are cool-looking when you get up close to them. I'm not sure exactly what type of fly this is (some sort of blow fly?), but it's got some nice metallic coloring that would be really easy to miss if I weren't sticking my camera in its face:
And this fly (a flesh fly, family Sarcophagidae... is that a scary name or what?) has those attractive gray and black stripes:
I thought at first that this was some sort of caterpillar:
But someone at BugGuide.net pointed out that it's actually a sawfly larvae -- not a butterfly or moth at all! I had no idea other insect larvae could resemble caterpillars so closely. Apparently one of the easiest ways to tell the difference is that most lepidopteran (butterfly/moth) larvae only have up to four pairs of "prolegs" (the suction-cup-like things) on the second half of its body, plus the pair of prolegs at the end, whereas sawfly larvae have more than that. I count at least seven pairs in this picture, so... not a caterpillar! Crazy!
Finally, here's my "artsy" photo of the day, as Paul called it. I think I accidentally gave this small beetle (a ground beetle?) a shower while I was putting the garden hose away:
At one point this morning, I also saw what looked like some sort of awesome hawk moth, but of course, as soon as I was ready to take a picture of it, it was gone. Ah well, I'll keep my eyes open and maybe it'll come back.
Update 7/18/11: No, don't come back! I happened to stumble across a picture of the moth I saw, and as it turns out, it was a Squash Vine Borer. I had no idea these devastating larvae were actually moths, let alone such cool-looking ones. I feel so betrayed. :( Also, it's not a type of hawk moth, but a clearwing moth, while I'm correcting myself. Now that I know these guys are around, I have to watch out for eggs on my squash stems, and signs of leaves wilting....
All in all, I'm having a lot of fun learning about what sorts of creatures live in my yard, even if I can't actually identify most of them. Also, my growing tendency to take pictures of things up close seems to suggest that I should get a macro lens at some point. :P