Charming Couple revisited

Another view of the of Ellipsoptera hamata lacerata (Gulf Coast Tiger Beetle) that I photographed in a small mangrove marsh in Seminole, Florida. These are actually among the first tiger beetles that I ever tried to photograph at night, and the major learnings involved: 1) figuring out how to turn on the flash lamp and then compose the shot quickly enough before the lamp shut off, and 2) making sure to use the histogram in the field to ensure I’d gotten the proper flash level. My first few attempts all tended to be underexposed because the brightness of the image on the playback screen in the darkness caused me to keep undersetting the flash exposure compensation. I’d not previously gotten in the habit of using the histogram in the field since I do a lot of flash level bracketing, but perhaps this is a tool that will allow me to cut down on that to some degree. Anyway, these are two additional photos that worked out pretty well—I like the first because of the contrast between the bright white mandibles of the male versus the off-white mandibles of the female, and the second (female only after the male bolted) for its nice view of the curiously bent elytral apices that distinguish it from the female of the very similar and (in this area) sympatric E. marginata (Margined Tiger Beetle). Also clearly seen in the second is one of the distinct basolateral grooves on the pronotum that serve to receive the male mandibles during mating (compare to same area on pronotum of male). I was amazed at how easy this mating pair and other individuals of this species were to photograph at night in view of their extreme wariness during the day.

Ellipsoptera hamata lacerata | Seminole, Pinellas Co., Florida

Note curiously bent elytral apices and basolateral pronotal groove for reception of male mandibles.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

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