White Sands

New Mexico, USA – March 2019

The Chihuahua Desert is the largest of the North American deserts and is located in the border area between the USA and Mexico. White Sands is part of it and is located in the south of the US state of New Mexico. It is indeed white and the largest gypsum desert in the world. When we were there, there was a strong storm that made it difficult to stay and photograph outside. The sand flew into my eyes and prevented a clear view. Fortunately, the camera survived this mission undamaged.

On the way to White Sands. The storm drives sand and dust clouds through the desert.
Dunes of gypsum pile up over the plain.
Soap tree yuccas (Yucca elata) are able to thrive in the constantly changing landscape of the wandering dunes.
A 13 km long road leads into the unreal (and inhospitable) world of the white dunes.

Chinese Mantis

(Tenodera sinensis)
Indiana, USA – September 2019

In the last century, various species of mantis were introduced to North America from all over the world because they were hoped to be useful in pest control. For some time their eggs, which were deposited in so-called ootheques, were sold to establish praying mantises in gardens.

However, they were not successful because their populations could not adapt quickly enough to the pest plagues that occurred. Their distinct cannibalism also stands in the way of their population development. In addition, they eat everything they can overwhelm and make no difference whether their prey is pests or beneficials. Mice, reptiles and even small birds can also fall prey to them.

Chinese Mantis ♂︎

The green variant is a pregnant female.

Chinese Mantis ♀︎
Chinese Mantis ♀︎

Red-spotted Purple Admiral

(Limenitis arthemis)
Indiana, USA – August 2019

This magnificent butterfly is a good example of mimicry. The butterfly imitates a poisonous swallowtail (Battus philenor) in shape and colour and is thus protected from predators. There are four different sub types of these butterflies, whose coloring varies strongly. Shown here is Limenitis arthemis astyanax, which is common in the east and southeast of the USA.

Red-spotted Purple Admiral
Red-spotted Purple Admiral

Dog-day Cicada

(Neotibicen canicularis)
Indiana, USA – August 2019

Every year during the hottest days of the year, also called dog days, these cicadas are active. Usually they are not seen, but they are unmistakable. In large numbers they sit well camouflaged in trees and bushes and give their sometimes deafening concert.

One morning this specimen apparently sat a little cool in the dewy grass of our garden. This was the opportunity for a little photo session, which it endured almost motionless. After a while the cicada was reached by the sun’s rays and brought to operating temperature. It declared the session over, and buzzed up and away.

Dog-day Cicada
Dog-day Cicada
Dog-day Cicada
Dog-day Cicada

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

(Diabrotica undecimpunctata)
Indiana, USA – August 2019

Native to North America, this photogenic beetle is a feared crop pest that loves to attack cucumbers, pumpkins and melons. It also transmits various plant diseases. Its larvae live underground and feed on the roots of corn and other plants. The corn and soy fields, which are planted in extensive monocultures, certainly aid the spread of this beetle.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Japanese Beetles at Love Play

(Popillia japonica)
Indiana, USA – July 2019

These pretty beetles come from Japan and were introduced to North America about one hundred years ago. Due to the lack of natural enemies, they developed into a plague and damage crops and ornamental plants.

Japanese Beetle

The blossom of the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), on which the two love to play, also shows the feeding traces of the beetles.

Japanese Beetle