It's hard to decide what I love the most: photographing insects and other animals around my gardens or identifying the insects I see and then learning about how they fit into the patterns of life around me.
Once again I want to sing the praises of BugGuide.net and its community of volunteer entomologists for their help and expertise.
A few days ago I was doing my afternoon walkabout, using my newly "discovered" tripod, and capturing the images of just about any animal I could find. One of those animals was a fly that looked suspiciously like a very large mosquito, over 1/2" in length. Thanks to the tripod, I was able to get a reasonable series of photos and look at the little beastie with a more discerning eye.
I tried wading through the images of mosquitoes on BugGuide to learn more, but I simply wasn't getting anywhere because I really didn't know what features to focus upon. So I asked for identification help earlier today. Within a few hours, I had my answer - and what an answer it is!
My giant mosquito is known as the Elephant Mosquito or Treehole Predatory Mosquito. In scientific parlance, that's Toxorhynchites rutilus. As larvae, these mosquitoes are actually predators on other mosquito larvae! Best of all, the adults feed at flowers, as mine was doing, and the females do not appear to require a blood meal to lay eggs! I didn't have the slightest clue that predatory mosquitoes existed, so this has really made my night.
What a truly marvelous world we live in!