North America’s second-rarest pine

Jeffrey (L) and Washoe (R) pines at Galena Creek Park

During last year’s trip to Lake Tahoe, I made it a goal to find all of the 11 conifer species occurring naturally in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  It took some effort, some good references (Arno 1973, Graf 1999, Lanner 1999, and Peterson 1975), and the help of an especially knowledgeable associate at the U.S.D.A. Forest Service headquarters in South Lake Tahoe, but I succeeded in my quest and later wrote two posts covering the Lake Tahoe conifers (Trees of Lake Tahoe – The Pines, Trees of Lake Tahoe – The “Other” Conifers).  In the first of the posts covering the six species of pines, I added the following footnote:

Two additional species of pine – Washoe pine (Pinus washoensis) and single-leaf pinyon pine (P. monophylla) – are often treated as occurring in the Lake Tahoe area. However, they are of sporadic occurrence on the eastern slopes of Mount Rose, and thus do not occur within the Tahoe Basin proper.

Of these, I am quite familiar with single-leaf pinyon pine.  Widespread on isolated mountain ranges throughout the Great Basin into eastern and southern California and Baja California Norte, I have encountered it during many of my field trips out west and reared a number of buprestid species from its tough, scrubby branches (including 2 specimens of the rarely encountered Phaenops piniedulis).  The other species, Washoe pine, was a new one on me, and it is, in fact, the second-rarest species of pine in all of North America (Torrey pine, Pinus torreyana, being the rarest).  Well, that was all it took to make me commit to finding this species on this year’s return to Lake Tahoe.

Washoe pine cones surround a larger Jeffrey pine cone.

Washoe pine grows only in a few locations, primarily in northern California with the best stands found in the Warner Mountains in Modoc County.  In the Tahoe area, Washoe pine grows only on the eastern slope of Mt. Rose in Nevada, where it is limited to the upper reaches of Galena Creek (Graf 1999, Lanner 1999).  It is apparently very similar to Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi) – the most common pine in the Tahoe area – but seems to be more closely related to ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), which occurs at lower elevations and barely makes it up to the Tahoe area (some authorities even question the distinctiveness of this species, instead considering it a high elevation variety of ponderosa pine).  All three species are 3-needled and grow into tall, pyramidal trees with widely spaced horizontal branches.  Like ponderosa pine, the bark of mature trees forms broad yellowish plates separated by black fissures (the bark of Jeffrey pine is often more reddish with plate more narrowly separated).  The resin of Washoe pine is also chemically similar to that of ponderosa pine, both of which differ from the heptane-producing resin of Jeffrey pine.  However, Washoe pine cones more closely resemble those of Jeffrey pine, being somewhat smaller but sharing the “inward-curved” prickles on the scale tips that make them easy to handle (those of ponderosa pine point outwards, making them very prickly to handle).

Ponderosa (L) and Washoe (R) pine cones. Note smaller size and outward-pointing spines of ponderosa pine cone.

Jeffrey (L) and Washoe (R) pine cones. Both have inward-pointing spines, but Washoe pine cone is smaller and more loosely built.

None of my references had any specific locality information for Washoe pine beyond what I’ve stated above, but a little bit of Google snooping through conservation action plan documents revealed that the species occurred at Galena Creek Park, so early in the morning daughter Madison and I made the one-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe to the park.  Arriving at the park, I was disappointed to find nobody manning the headquarters, no maps in the park information board – indeed, no information whatsoever about the occurrence of Washoe pine within the park and where it might be found.  The only clue that there was something special about the pines at this place were the wooden signs around the parking and picnic areas stating “Collection of pine cones prohibited.” I reasoned that it would be very difficult to distinguish the species by its needles, bark, or form, but that the pine cones should be easier to distinguish. I also had no idea whether the pines would occur close to the parking area or if we would need to hike into the area to find them.  So, we just began picking up pine cones.  For a time, all of the pine cones seemed to be typical Jeffrey pine (abundant in the area) with an occasional ponderosa pine (just making up the 6,200′ of elevation in this area).  Ever concerned that I might be missing a subtle difference, I studied each “Jeffrey” pine cone carefully looking for any reason to regard it as truely smaller than normal.  Within about 15 minutes, however, we found it!  Picking up the pine cone, it had the compact build and inward-pointing spines of a Jeffrey pine, but it was smaller and a little more loosely built.  I looked at the trees above and could see no difference from what I would expect for a Jeffrey pine.  Further looking revealed numerous cones of the same type – each tree we found them under was otherwise indistinguishable from Jeffrey pine (at least to this eastern U.S.-based wannabe botanist).  Nevertheless, it was clear that we had found Washoe pine, and that it was quite abundant within this small watershed that we were exploring.  Jeffrey pine was also common in the watershed, and an occasional ponderosa pine could be found.  I took photos of mature individuals of each of the three species, identified conclusively by way of the cones found underneath them, to show how similar in appearance the three species are.

Pinus ponderosa

Pinus jeffreyi

Pinus washoensis

Madison and I later hiked out of the watershed into the higher elevations of Mt. Rose (from where these ants were photographed) – we noticed that almost immediately upon hiking out of the watershed the Washoe and ponderosa pines disappeared, and only Jeffrey pines were seen.  Although I have seen it many times before, I was still hoping to see single-leaf pinyon pine, but none were seen.


Arno, S. F. 1973. Discovering Sierra Trees. Yosemite Association, Yosemite National Park, California, 89 pp.

Graf, M.  1999. Plants of the Tahoe Basin.  Flowering Plants, Trees, and Ferns.  A Photographic Guide. California Native Plant Society Press, Berkeley, 308 pp.

Lanner, R. M.  1999. Conifers of California.  Cachuma Press, Los Olivos, California, 274 pp.

Peterson, P. V., and P. V. Peterson, Jr.  1975. Native Trees of the Sierra Nevada.  University of California Press, Berkeley, 147 pp.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

Winter Botany Quiz #6 – answers and a checklist

I thought yesterday’s Winter Botany Quiz #6 would be a fairly difficult, and given the apparent difficulty of my previous quizes (Pismire Puzzle and Tuesday Teaser) I thought I’d give readers a break this week and narrow down the location to the Lake Tahoe area. Despite publishing in the dead of night, it took only 31 minutes for Peter Yeeles to swoop down and correctly name the family, genus, species, and function for the structure pictured. His only lapsus regarded the terminology used for the name of the structure itself, leaving the door open for James Trager to snag some scrap points. The plant is, of course, Cercocarpus ledifolius (curl-leaf mountain mahogany) in the family Rosaceae, and the structures pictured above and in the previous post are the stigmas of the flowers persisting as wind-assisted dispersal structures for the fruit. “Cercocarpus” is, in fact, derived from the Greek words for “tailed” and “fruit”, whose numerous erect hairs give the plant in a silvery sheen late in the growing season.

Why was I interested in this plant? It was one of the few tree species occurring in the Lake Tahoe Basin that I wasn’t able to find for last year’s 3-part series, Trees of Lake Tahoe (including The Pines, The “Other” Conifers, and The Deciduous Trees).  Widespread in the mountainous west (and barely qualifying as a tree), its occurrence in the Tahoe Basin is more sporadic.  Better stands are found outside the basin proper on the dry eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada (Graf 1999), and indeed these plants were photographed at ~6,500 feet on the eastern slopes of Mt. Rose.

My real interest in Cercocarpus, however, is as a favored host plant for species of jewel beetles (family Buprestidae).  About two dozen species of these beetles have been associated with Cercocarpus spp. in North America, nine of which have been confirmed as breeding within dead branches of these plants and five having been associated with no other plant.  I’ve collected a number of these species myself, particularly in the San Gabriel and Santa Rosa Mountains of southern California and the Chisos Moutains of Big Bend National Park in Texas, including Polycesta cazieri, Chrysobothris piuta, and paratype specimens of Acmaeodera rubrocuprea. I thought it might be of interest to any readers who might collect these insects to present a checklist of Buprestidae associated with Cercocarpus in North America (see appendix below).


Graf, M. 1999. Plants of the Tahoe Basin. Flowering Plants, Trees, and Ferns. A Photographic Guide. California Native Plant Society Press, Berkeley, 308 pp.

Checklist of North American Buprestidae associated with Cercocarpus

(Bold indicates species that have been reared from Cercocarpus.  An asterisk indicates species that have been associated exclusively with Cercocarpus).
Acmaeodera (s. str.) angelica Fall
Acmaeodera (s. str.) connexa LeConte
Acmaeodera (s. str.) dolorosa dolorosa Fall
Acmaeodera (s. str.) idahoensis Barr
Acmaeodera (s. str.) mariposa mariposa Horn
Acmaeodera (s. str.) mariposa dohrni Horn
Acmaeodera (s. str.) nelsoni Barr
Acmaeodera (s. str.) nexa Fall
Acmaeodera (s. str.) plagiaticauda Horn
Acmaeodera (s. str.) pubiventris lanata Horn
Acmaeodera (s. str.) rubrocuprea Westcott & Nelson*
Acmaeodera (s. str.) vandykei Fall
Acmaeodera (s. str.) variegata LeConte
Acmaeodera (Squamodera) vanduzeei (Van Dyke)
Anthaxia (Haplanthaxia) caseyi sublaevis Van Dyke
Anthaxia (Melanthaxia) porella Barr*
Anthaxia (Melanthaxia) simiola Casey*
Chrysobothris bisinuata Chamberlin*
Chrysobothris mali Horn
Chrysobothris piuta Wickham
Chrysobothris purpureovittata purpureovittata Horn
Chrysobothris purpureovittata cercocarpi Westcott & Nelson*
Dicerca (s. str.) hornii hornii Crotch
Polycesta (Tularensia) californica LeConte
Polycesta (Tularensia) cazieri Barr

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Bicycle ride around Lake Tahoe

Overlooking Emerald Bay from Emerald Bay Pass.

Perhaps some of you have by now deduced that, in addition to insects and natural history, I have a second passion – cycling! In fact, I raced bikes competitively as an amateur for seven years (going by the local nickname “BugMan“) before hanging it up at the end of 2008.  However, even though I’m not racing anymore, I still ride as much as ever, only now it’s purely for the fun of it!  I’m a dedicated roadie, riding year-round and averaging around 5,000-6,000 miles a year.  I love the speed and the smoothness of the road and the opportunity it provides to cover long distances and enjoy the sights (not to mention the resulting freedom to eat like a horse and stay relatively trim!).

One of my most memorable cycling experiences was in 1995, when I joined a group that rode the entire circuit around Lake Tahoe.  I was living in Sacramento at the time and was a relative newbie – the 72-mile ride with 3,500 feet of climbing at elevations ranging from 6,200 feet at lake level to more than 7,000 feet near Carson Pass was without question the most difficult ride I had ever attempted at that point.  Now, as a seasoned ex-racer, such a ride is not extraordinarily difficult for me – in fact, I do rides in the 60-80 mile range with as much climbing or more almost every weekend.  Still, my memories of the challenge and the unbelievable scenery have kept that ride high in the ranks of my most epic, and since we began going back to Lake Tahoe two spring ago I’ve wanted to do it again.  It would not have been possible during our first trip back, as the roads still had quite a bit of snow on them; however, last year the roads were clean and dry, and I resolved to bring my bike with me on this year’s trip in the event that such was again the case.  Madonna del Ghisallo (patron saint of cycling) must have been smiling down upon me, because this year the roads were again in beautiful condition, despite the amount of snow blanketing the surrounding landscapes.  It made for one of the most beautiful bike rides I have ever done in my life.

There was a comforting familiarity to the ride, despite the 15 years since the last – the stunning landscape that I have come to cherish so dearly, the massively shaded solitude of the west shore, lunching on California cuisine in a quaint village along the north shore, and the long climbs and screaming descents through open Jeffrey pine forests along the east shore.  It was also different – I was by myself, yet despite that I was stronger and briming with confidence; not only a seasoned cyclist, but also much more knowledgeable of and closely attuned to the natural history of the area.  I didn’t fear the climbing, I relished it!  I didn’t overcome the challenge, I enjoyed it!  I stopped at a few places to take photographs (taken with my small point-and-shoot, for obvious reasons) and share some of them here – I hope they give you a tiny taste of the flavor of that day.

Near the summit of Emerald Bay Pass, looking back at Mt. Tallac.

High point on Emerald Bay Pass.

The descent to Eagle Falls at Emerald Bay.

 This is an avalanche zone (note deep snow deposits on steep slopes on left side – these extend high up the mountain here).  Moments after taking this photo, an avalanche fell onto the road right as I was descending by this spot. At ~35 mph there was no stopping – I rode right through it as the initial snow drop hit the pavement and then watched in amazement as the main drop dumped onto the road behind me.  It was not big enough to bury anything, but I surely would have crashed had I gotten there just a moment or two later!

Overlooking Emerald Bay from Emerald Bay Pass.

Emerald Bay is a glacial scour formed during the last glacial period ending only 10,000 years ago. Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe’s only island, is thought to be a resistant rib of granite rock that was overridden by the glacial ice. Lateral glacial morraines enclose each side of the bay, and an incomplete terminal morraine connects Emerald Bay to the main lake. Last year, I stood atop the outermost rock of the left side of the terminal morraine and took photographs looking back in this direction

Grove of sugar pines at D. L. Bliss State Park.

Sugar pine, Pinus lambertiana, is among my favorite of all pines.  More common on the west shore due to their preference for higher levels of moisture, their towering, ragged, asymmetrical crowns with long, pendulous cones (usually a foot or more in length) hanging from the branch tips are immediately recognizable from afar.  These majestic trees are the world’s tallest pine and bear the longest cones in the genus; they stand in defiant contrast to the uniformly symmetrical crowns of the more common Jeffrey pines (Pinus jeffreyi) and white firs (Abies concolor) that surrounded them.  For a more thorough treatment of the trees of Lake Tahoe, please visit my three-part series covering the pines, the “other” conifers, and the deciduous trees.

Some might think it was still a little too early in the season for bike riding.

Looking west across Lake Tahoe from Logan Shoals Overlook.

The east shore in Nevada is decidedly drier than California’s west shore.  The forest on the Nevada side is a more open, fire-mediated landscape dominated by Jeffrey pine, as opposed to the denser forests on the west shore with higher incidence of shade-tolerant trees such as white fir and incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens).

View of Cave Rock (left center) from Logan Shoals Overlook.

Cave Rock was and still is a sacred place for people of the Washoe tribe, whose ancestors occupied Lake Tahoe during the summers and performed religious ceremonies inside the largest of its caves.  These caves, sitting several hundred feet above the current lake level, were carved by wave action shortly after Lake Tahoe’s formation nearly 3 million years ago when lake levels were much higher than they are today.  The first of two highway tunnels was blasted through the rock in 1931 (much to the dismay of the Washoes), and the second was added in 1957.

Looking north along Lake Tahoe's east shore from atop Logan Shoals Overlook.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Up the Glacial Staircase

During last year’s visit to Lake Tahoe, we attempted to hike Eagle Falls Trail, one of Lake Tahoe’s most scenic and popular trails.  Beginning at the Hwy 89 trailhead above Emerald Bay, this trail climbs a dramatic ‘glacial staircase’ with steep, narrow gorges connecting a series of deep lakes and meadows.  Each of these lakes, and indeed Emerald Bay itself, was formed as a result of glaciers that carved Lake Tahoe’s granite shores until as recently as 10,000 years ago – leaving behind scars of incomparable beauty.  Eagle Lake perches atop one of these steps – only a short, one-mile hike up the trail but rising nearly 2,000 feet above the trailhead.  Summer hikers have trouble enough dealing with this elevation gain, but winter hikers – as we learned last year –  find it impossible without the assistance of snowshoes.  The first steep section just short of Upper Eagle Falls would prevent any further progress, leaving me with only a teasing view up the gorge and a commitment to try again on our next visit.

There was even more snow this year than last – a good 4-6′ it appeared, but our rented snowshoes made this irrelevant (even desirable), and the four of us began the arduous task of climbing the snow-laden slopes all the way up to Eagle Lake.  It was a family affair, so the pace was dictated by 10-yr old Madison, who got us to Eagle Lake – serenely beautiful and frozen solid – in a leisurely 1 hour 45 minutes.  The hike back down the gorge passed more quickly (almost too quickly) but provided spectacular views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe below. Those of you with an interest in the geological history of Lake Tahoe may refer to my earlier posts, Lake Tahoe, California (Mar 2008) and Born of Glaciers (Mar 2009).  The rest of you may just enjoy these pretty pictures.

View of Upper Eagle Falls - it was here where our hike last year would end.

View back down the gorge from bridge over Upper Eagle Falls.

Looking back down at Emerald Bay from Eagle Falls Trail.

Further up the trail, one looks back upon this spectacular view of Jake's Peak.

Eagle lake lies at 8,500' elevation (frozen lake surface visible through trees left).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Lake Tahoe – 2010 Preview

How does an entomologist/wannabe botanist-ecologist-geologist-cyclist-nature photographer spend his time on a family vacation?

  • Thursday evening to Saturday late afternoon:
    – Drive from St. Louis to Lake Tahoe.  In between driving shifts:
    – Complete manuscript on Cylindera cursitans surveys
    – Complete manuscript on Dromochorus pruinina surveys.
    – Arrive late afternoon, quick 1-hr bike ride before dark.
  • Sunday:
    – Cross-country skiing with the family: Spooner Lake (~6 miles).
    – Sight-seeing: Sand Harbor Overlook on the east shore.
    – Hang out at the hot tub with the family and a glass of wine.
  • Monday:
    – Drive to Sacramento with the family.
    – Visit buprestid-colleagues Chuck Bellamy (CDFA) and Mark Volkovitsh (Russian Academy of Science).
    – Private lesson from Mark on how to dissect buprestid larvae for taxonomic description.
    – Dinner with my favorite brothers-in-law.
    – Drive back to Lake Tahoe.
  • Tuesday:
    – Snowshoe hike with the family: Emerald Bay to Eagle Lake and back (2 miles, 1,900′ of climbing).
    – Bike ride: South Lake Tahoe to Bliss State Park and back (33 miles, 1,100′ of climbing).
  • Wednesday:
    – Bike ride: all the way around Lake Tahoe (72 miles, 3,500′ of climbing).
    – Hang out at the hot tub with the family and a glass of wine.
  • Thursday:
    – Botanizing and hiking with daughter Madison at Mt. Rose (4 miles, 1,300′ feet of climbing).
    – Hang out at the hot tub with the family and a glass of wine.
  • Friday:
    – Alpine skiing with the family at Heavenly Ski Resort.
    – Join a 2-hour ski tour with US Forest Service rangers discussing natural and cultural history of Lake Tahoe.
    – Hang out at the hot tub with the family and a glass of wine.
  • Saturday morning to Sunday night:
    – Drive from Lake Tahoe back to St. Louis.  In between driving shifts:
    – Process/file photographs from trip (~250).
    – Complete reports for 2009 collecting permits.
    – Complete new applications for 2010 permits.
    – Begin manuscript on Cylindera celeripes conservation status.
  • Monday:
    – Return to work mentally refreshed!

I’ve already shared a bit of the trip with a view of Mt. Rose from 7,000′ and ensuing pismire quagmire.  Today I share some views of one of the most scenic of lakeside spots on the east shore – Sand Harbor Overlook.  I featured this spot in this post from last year’s trip due to its stunning beauty, and this year I was no less impressed.  I still had that same, annoying, afternoon sun to deal with (next year I’ve resolved to get here during the morning) but managed to get some passable photographs.  The one above is my favorite, and I hope you enjoy the following as well. (p.s. if someone knows how to fix a sun-blown sky in Photoshop Elements, please let me know).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Pismire Puzzle

I returned home from a much-needed vacation late last night, and even though it was a family trip I have much to share from the past 10 days. However, I must remain coy about where I was for the time being so that I may present this little quiz:

Who am I?

I had planned to post this yesterday, but the best title I could come up with – “Monday Myrmecine Mystery” – was just too similar to a Monday tradition on another blog that we’ve all grown to love.  (Also, I just couldn’t get to it.)  No longer constrained by an M-themed title, I came up with this alternative¹ that I hope will make the 12-year old boy in each of us giggle aloud.

¹ Pismire (from pissemire) is an archaic name of Scandinavian origin for ant. Derived from pisse urine (referring to the smell of formic acid) + mire ant.

What am I doing?

I expect members of the Formicine Guild will jump all over this, so I should probably make this quiz about more than just the name of the ant (which I don’t know, so does that make this an illegal quiz?).  Maybe I should offer double points to non-myrmecologists for a proper ID (but then, I would need the consensus of the myrmecologists – perhaps a conflict of interest?).

Why do I do this?

I could also offer points for correctly guessing what the ant is carrying – which again I wasn’t able to figure out, so I guess points will have to be awarded for the most plausible explanation.  What I do know is the ant carried this carcass while meandering aimlessly over the same patch of ground – occasionally stopping very briefly to dig its jaws into it before resuming its wanderings.  I followed the ant for about 10 minutes, and it never left an area of about 1 square foot – no nest nearby that I could see, no direction to its travels, no apparent purpose to its labors.

This is where I live.

I most definitely know where I was, so firm points are on offer for correctly guessing the answer to that question – either on the basis of the ant ID or the above photograph of its habitat.  Yes, that is snow on the ground – lots of it!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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BitB Best of 2009

In my first post of 2009, I looked back at the photographs I had posted during 2008 and picked some of my personal favorites. I hesitated then to call myself a photographer (and still do), but I at least now have suitable equipment to aid in my progress toward that eventual goal. I have learned much over the past six months in my first attempt at serious insect macrophotography (prioritizing in situ field photographs of unmanipulated subjects as a matter of personal choice).  Through this, I’ve come to realize the following skills to be the most important for success:  

  1. Composition
  2. Understanding lighting
  3. Knowing how to use a flash
  4. Knowledge of the subject

I’ll give myself a “A” in the last of these, but in the other areas I still have much to learn. With this caveat, and for the last post of 2009, I offer the following twelve photographs as my final choices for the 2nd Annual “Best of BitB”:  

Best beetle

Cylindera celeripes (swift tiger beetle), Woodward Co., Oklahoma

From Revisiting the Swift Tiger Beetle – Part 1 (June 30).  A decent enough photograph, especially considering that I’d had my camera for about a month when I took it.  However, the discovery of robust populations of this formerly rare and enigmatic species throughout northwestern Oklahoma (and later also in northwestern Missouri) was the most significant find of the 2009 field season, and this photograph is the best capture of that moment.

Best fly

Stylogaster neglecta, a species of thickheaded fly

From Overlooked, needle-bellied, thick-headed fly (Aug 14).  One of my first good “black background” shots.  The white tip of the abdomen compliments the white flower stamens against the background.

Best “true” bug

Beameria venosa, a prairie obligate cicada

From North America’s smallest cicada (Aug 4).  So many different shades of green with white frosting on the bug’s body.  I tried taking this shot in portrait and it just didn’t work—I liked this landscape shot much better.

Best predator

Promachus hinei (Hines giant robber fly) & Ceratina sp. (small carpenter bee) prey

From Prey bee mine (Sept 14).  Robber flies are immensely photogenic, especially those in the genus Promachus due to their prominent “beards.”

Best camoflauge

Dicerca obscura on bark of dead persimmon

From The “obscure” Dicerca (June 19).  Sparkling and gaudy as specimens in a cabinet, the coloration of many jewel beetles actually helps them blend almost perfectly with the bark of their preferred tree hosts.

Best immature insect

Tetracha floridana (Florida metallic tiger beetle) 3rd-instar larva

From Anatomy of a Tiger Beetle Larva (Oct 22).  “Otherwordly” is invariably the first word that comes to mind when someone sees a tiger beetle larva for the first time.  I was lucky enough to get this one in profile with a nice view of its abdominal hump and its curious hooks.

Best arachnid

Centruroides vittatus (striped bark scorpion)

From A face only a mother could love (Oct 6).  Despite some minor depth-of-field problems with this photograph, I’m fascinated by its “smile.”

Best reptile

Eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris collaris) adult male

From North America’s most beautiful lizard (July 10).  A simply spectacular lizard—all I had to do was frame it well and get the flash right.

Best wildflower

Spiranthes magnicamporum (Great Plains ladies

From Great Plains Ladies’-tresses (Dec 7).  Few flowers are as photogenic as orchids, even native terrestrials with minute flowers such as this one.  I like the frosty texture of the lip and the starkness of the white flower on the black background.

Best natural history moment

Thermoregulatory behavior by Ellipsoptera hirtilabris (moustached tiger beetle)

From Tiger Beetles Agree—It’s Hot in Florida! (Dec 18). I chose this photo for the classic “stilting” and “sun-facing” thermoregulatory behaviors exhibited by this tiger beetle on a blistering hot day in Florida.

Best closeup

Megaphasma denticrus (giant walkingstick)

From North America’s longest insect (Aug 21).  I haven’t tried a whole lot of super close-up photographs yet.  I liked the combination of blue and brown colors on the black background.

Best Landscape

Sand Harbor Overlook, Lake Tahoe, Nevada

From Sand Harbor Overlook, Nevada (March 23).   My choice for “best landscape” again comes from Lake Tahoe.  This is not a great photo technically—I was still using a point-and-shoot and had to deal with foreground sun.  However, none of the other photos I took during my March visit to the area captivate me like this one.  I like the mix of colors with the silhouetted appearance of the trees on the point.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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