One-shot Wednesday

Ted MacRae over at Beetles in the Bush instigated a meme which he called One-shot Wednesday.

Said Ted…

Ever photograph an insect and only get off a single shot? Not just one keeper from a series of photos, but only one single photo of the insect, like it or lump it! That’s what I’m talking about here. The subtext, of course, is that there was only that one chance to get everything right—exposure, focus, composition, lighting, etc. Obviously, it’s not my plan to show crappy photos as part of this meme, but rather that occasional instance where I only got off a single shot, and for the most part everything worked pretty well to produce a decent photograph. I would, of course, be more than happy to see this meme take off and spread throughout the insect blogging community…

Now, I seldom ever make only one shot of any bug, mainly due to my habit of taking a ‘record shot’ first. That is, when I spot a likely subject, I take a photograph immediately, with what ever lens I have on at the time. Only after taking this record shot do I begin to move in to get more detail, and then, if the subject is still willing, I begin to hone the photograph by playing with angles and lighting.  Therefore, almost all my bug shots have more than one exposure, and where I do have only a single shot, it is often too bad to share!

This first shot may very well fall into Ted’s ‘crappy’ category, but this is one that is interesting enough to share.

"Ectemnius continuus with a muscid or anthomyiid fly"

The cropped image, at 50% of original dimensions.

A couple of weeks ago while walking along the paths that surround Fort Edmonton Park, and I spotted something making a somewhat clumsy landing on a leaf. I leaned forward and took the record shot, which I first thought  a pair of mating bees. They disappeared after that first exposure, and it was only when I  looked at the shot on my monitor that I discovered my error: it was in fact a wasp with a captive fly held in tow.

I submitted it to our local Bug ID group, AlbertaBugs, and Matthias Buck of the Royal Alberta Museum soon had it pegged as Ectemnius continuus (90% certain) with a muscid or anthomyiid fly. It is a Crabronid wasp with world wide distribution. Each species in the Family Crabronidae have their own preferred prey, which they use to stockpile their nests for the larvae to feed on. Ectemnius sp. typically nest in tunnels in wood.

So, not for the first time, a bug that is new to me turns out to be of a fairly common species, but fascinating none the less.

View more on these wasps at BugGuide.

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This entry was posted in Crabronidae, Crappy, Diptera, Hymenoptera, One-shot Wednesday and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Fertanish 22 August, 2012 at 6:58 PM #

    I think it is these types of shots that keep me going out as prey to dozens of mosquitoes in the horribly humid heat of summer. Occasionally I take a shot while not entirely sure what I’m shooting or simply not able to process what is happening in a short time frame. Having an insight into the harsh (and short) lives insects live is as much fulfilling to me as capturing a great composition.

    And it does make me happy to be pretty much atop the food chain…

  2. Ted C. MacRae 24 August, 2012 at 11:54 PM #

    Your habit of taking a record shot will serve you well. I’m still guilty of not doing that, probably because I rarely walk around with the camera already out (I know, I’m bad!). Anyway, crabronids are cool, as I’ve learned this past summer working with Cerceris fumipennis.

    • Adrian 25 August, 2012 at 8:04 AM #

      :)…just thinking how cool it would be to capture an in-flight shot of the wasp coming in for a landing with a emerald ash borer in tow!

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