Writer, nature photography doer. Fan of Montana, California, the rest of the planet. Caregiver for #Eddiethetortoise, among others. tomastlephotography.com

Joined November 2012
Eddie is one of our desert tortoises. If you don’t push the door shut all the way, he will open it and come in. Eddie is probably over 50 years old, and ours is at least the third house in our neighborhood he’s lived at.
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Antlion (order Neuroptera, w/ lacewings & owlflies) in the Mojave Desert yesterday. Antlion larvae are the creatures that make the small conical pits in fine dirt/sand for trapping ants & other prey. Adults look a bit like big lacewings. They have amazing eyes - worth zooming in.
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You didn't think I'd forget about #WorldLizardDay, did you? Here's a male Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides) striking a hey-there pose in the Mojave Desert this morning.
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I was on the road by 4:30 a.m. to drive to Red Rock Canyon, a favorite Mojave spot. I don't think it got much rain from the recent monsoon, but a there were a few plants still attracting pollinators, and a few predators waiting for them. A beautiful morning. And now I need nap.
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I don’t know what this adorable round plant was in the Mojave Desert this morning, but imagine a half-deflated basketball covered in leaves and little flowers, or maybe the land form of a brain coral.
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A couple of quick shots of a gorgeous and harmless little moth doing its best to convince you that it's actually a wasp that will totally sting you if you bother it, so don't even try. Found by @ThomasShahan after it landed on his backpack, I believe, in Montana last month.
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Heading out to the desert tomorrow to tromp around with my camera. The Mojave in August can be a bit toasty, but I’m curious if/how the recent over-zealous monsoon impacted things where I’m going. 🦂🌵☀️🔥⛈
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Tom J. Astle retweeted
One of the more ubiquitous bugs in the eastern US, Dasymutilla occidentalis has garnered several common names; most notably, Cow Killer or Eastern Velvet Ant. Although it neither kills cows nor is an ant, these wasps are wicked cool.
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Here are your Saturday Sandhill Cranes (Montana).
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Also, if you look closely you can see a stealthy little duck, one of the pair of Green-winged Teal that were hanging around.
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This tiny baby alligator lizard (half the width of a pencil) found its way into our kitchen last night. It happens every year - this is the second one in a week. Or maybe it's the same one twice, and it just wants to come in like #Eddiethetortoise. Heck, maybe Eddie let it in.
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sometimes you peek out your little hole
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Here's one of the photos from my talk yesterday - a mud dauber wasp tempting fate by sipping nectar from the throat of a carnivorous pitcher plant. Luckily for her, she survived the encounter. (@SolomonRDavid)
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Yesterday was a two-baby-lizard day, thanks to my wife. She spotted a wee baby fence lizard outside (we've recently had adults around, so they must be breeding, yay), and found a baby alligator lizard in our kitchen again (like last week). Will try to get a big-cam pic of bebe#2:
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Tom J. Astle retweeted
This peculiar orange polka-dot speckled oddball is an orb weaver spider, Ocrepeira albopunctata. It was less than 5mm in size but captivated many of us while waiting for the drizzle to end.
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Tom J. Astle retweeted
Got to see lots of fabulous frogs and toads while in the rainforest, but this little nugget takes the award for most adorable. So tiny! Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador
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This click beetle repeatedly opened and closed its elytra, which I thought meant it was preparing to fly, but it never did take off. I think it was actually getting its flight wings properly folded and stowed away. (Montana)
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One more shameless plug to join me tonight at 7pm EDT / 4pm PDT on Zoom for a chat about bugs and the plants that eat them! 🪲🌿💀
Join us this Thursday for a free workshop on #macrophotography presented by nature photographer, @tjalamont at 7pm. Tom will share what he’s learned about #carnivorousplants and provide some tips, tricks, & challenges with macro. Learn more & register at: CoastalLandTrust.org/upclose
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It's time again to #FindThatLizard
Subspecies are like twins who live one town over from each other. They look alike but they have differences in their DNA. Can you #FindThatLizard a Northwestern Fence Lizard found north & east of the Bay Area into Oregon & Washington. Tell me w #FoundThatLizard 📸:@AliJamalAshraf
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Tom J. Astle retweeted
Alright, I promised a grasshopper pageant a while back. Here we go! Raspberry stripes complimenting raspberry eyes, orange knees, and chartreuse leggings. This Short-horned Grasshopper sports the perfect combo to stand out. Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador
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And second, @humanbyweight's incredibly well-researched and amazingly illustrated field guide to social wasps, which is maybe the best field guide of any kind I've ever seen:
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