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Old Jun 27, 2007, 9:08 PM   #1
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Finally found a use for the Tamron 70-300 LD macro zoom as a long distance macro(at 300 mm). This wasp looks like it is sipping nectar from deep within the milkweed flowers - you can see its tongue down in the nectary in these pictures. This is the first thing (other than the aphids) I have seen to make use of these flowers - not even the bees can or will (something pollinates them, since they have no trouble setting seed).
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Old Jun 27, 2007, 9:11 PM   #2
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Besides the good view of the tongue, you can see how the claws grip the flowers in this one. These pictures were posted elsewhere as well, but not everyone visits the same forums.
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Old Jun 28, 2007, 8:17 AM   #3
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Thank you for detailed, beautiful, and educational in those shots. It is fun to use lenses in ways other than the usual.
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Old Jun 28, 2007, 11:06 AM   #4
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And thanks to you for your appreciation. This seems to be a good role for this lens, which provides as much as a 1:2 magnification at 3 ft. (these were not so close).
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Old Jun 28, 2007, 12:13 PM   #5
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I wish the Nikkor 70-300 was macro because it does not focus close. With a +5 on the end of it then it focuses too close (for comfort, thinking of my previous snake photos.)

What is milkweed's place in nature? It's interesting to look at and I've read is somewhat toxic. I don't think I've ever seen the variety you photographed but only plain white blossom ones, and bees don't seem to like it.
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Old Jun 28, 2007, 12:56 PM   #6
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What is milkweed's place in nature? It's interesting to look at and I've read is somewhat toxic. I don't think I've ever seen the variety you photographed but only plain white blossom ones, and bees don't seem to like it.

Milkweed sap is noxious asthe plant'sdefence against being eaten. Its most important role is as a food plant for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars which can eat them, andwhich acquire the bad taste from the sap,thus gaining protection from predators. Blue Jays have been shown experimentally to learn to avoid adult Monarchs after only one exposure to the taste, and can be seen to salivate copiously on even seeing another one! Several other butterflies, including the Viceroy, mimic the appearance of the Monarch and gain protection that way.

Monarchs migrate great distances,laying eggson milkweeds as they travel, so an abundant supply of the plants is necessary for their survival. Unfortunately,wild plants are becoming increasingly scarce in some parts of their range, as habitats are altered, and milkweeds are cleared out as weeds. People are encouragedto plant milkweeds as ornamentals so the butterflies can have a place to lay eggs as they pass through, and several attractive varieties have been developed (such as the one shown here) to that end, and are available in nurseries. We are on our second crop of Monarchs this year already (haven't found the caterpillars yet, but we saw at least one butterflylaying eggs recently). The first crop emerged and left. When you find the leaves being chewed you know there are caterpillars somewhere, since nothing else eats them.

Even as Bluebirds, Purple Martine, and other hole nesting birds might have disappeared without so many people maintaining nest boxes for them, Monarchs mayone dayalso come to depend on human intervention for survival. the more people who get on the bandwagon, the better, especially in urban and suburban areas.

Thanks for asking.
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Old Jun 28, 2007, 10:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information on milkweed. I wonder if milkweed would survive up where I live? If they are easy to grow I'd be happy to plant some, I'd love to see some Monarchs around here. I know that we do have butterflies other than the blues I've been seeing, but not that many.
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Old Jun 29, 2007, 12:30 AM   #8
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I wonder if milkweed would survive up where I live? If they are easy to grow I'd be happy to plant some,
I'm sure they will survive there, and they are easy to grow -ours require nodifferent care than other garden plants. Monarchs breed in summer in places where there are winter snows, and the native milkweeds are perennials, growing from the roots each year. The books list several native speciesas occurringin Kern and Inyo counties up to 5000 - 7000 feet. Their flowers may be less colorful that the garden varieties, but the morphology of the flowers and seed pods should be similar, so you should be able torecognize them when you see them from the pictures here and in some of my other posts. If you find plants with seed pods you can recover the seeds and plant them yourself - wild southern California species are adapted to drier slopes, and probably shouldn't be overwatered.Common names vary, but you should be able to find them under the genus name, Asclepias in books and plant nurseries. Nurseries that specialize in native plants and plants that attract butterflies would be the most likely to have them.
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Old Jun 29, 2007, 1:19 AM   #9
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Another point of interest in the pictures - I wondered why the flowers had such an odd shape. I just read that pollination occurs when an insect's leg slips into the groove between two of the cusps of the flowerand picks up pollen from the anthers within; when the leg is pulled out and contactsa pistil, pollen is transferred and the flower is fertilized. In the second picture, you can see yellow pollen grains adhering to the hairs on the wasps left front leg - grainsthat weren't there in the previous picture, so thatleg must have failed to grip the cusp whenthe wasp changedposition. To turn a phrase, there's many a slip twixt the cusp and the lip.:lol:
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Old Jul 2, 2007, 10:44 AM   #10
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I found a source for milkweed seeds from Butterfly Encounters online. It'll be hard to wait until fall to plant them but they evidently need some cold time and moisture in the ground before they germinate.
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