Last week, I got my first true macro lens and over the weekend decided to take it out for a spin. I have been wanting to do bug photography for a while. Ever since I started reading up on farming and the environment, I have been fascinated by the roles of different insects and plants in our food supply.
I decided to try out the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center on the Eastside. Sure enough, when I stopped by late morning immediately after the rain, the place was full of late summer flowers and bugs. There was the initial sensory overload, but soon I started to observe individual insects and their behavior. I saw several clumps of flowering black-eyed susans with feeding soldier beetles (a golden rod or Pennsylvania leatherwing, I think). I did not see them on any other flowers close by. I did not think much of this at that time, until I accidentally saw one of them fly to one of those flowers and disappear among the colors almost completely.
I was taken in by how well the the beetle blended with the flower. Was this a conscious decision by the beetle to select only those flowers to feed on? There were other color flowers, but very few soldier beetles.
Since then, I have seen other images of this sub-species on the web, but almost always on a yellow flower. Perhaps this is evolution at work – creating a unique partnership between a color and a beetle.
For those of you with a garden, soldier beetles are predators of aphids, grasshopper and other pest larvae. They do not harm the plants themselves and are good pollinators.