The Backyard Arthropod Project

2007 February 23

So, what is this all about anyway? Here’s the deal: We own 9 acres of property, and I’m going to try to document every macroscopic arthropod I can find on it. This includes insects, spiders, other arachnids, crustaceans, and pretty much anything I find that has an exoskeleton. The plan is to post at least one species every week, with photographs and a description both of how I found it and what I think it is. I expect this project to take some years, especially if I can manage to photograph all the eensy little guys that live in the leaf litter. So, in the spirit of having to start somewhere, let’s begin with this one:


Yes, it’s a housefly that came out of the woodwork during a warm spell. It’s the middle of February in northern Michigan, there aren’t a lot of options here. It’s an arthropod, it counts. Cut me a little slack, OK?

Yeah, you’re right. That’s pathetic. Not very well focused, either. All right, let’s rummage around here a bit . . .

(rummage, rummage, ah, here we go) How about this one, then?
This is a Cecropia Moth caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia) that we found on a wild cherry last August. Confession time: this is a slight cheat, because it wasn’t actually on our property. It was about 500 yards back into the commercial forest land behind our house.

But it could have been on our property! It could have! You’ve got to believe me!

(ahem). Anyway, while honking huge subjects like that caterpillar photograph well, I can see that I’m going to have to work on my technique for the littler arthropods. And photographing on a window is Obviously Not So Good (the camera kept trying to focus on things outside, instead of on the fly). I’m using a Sony DSC-P31, with no optical zoom, which may not be the best choice for this project. So, I’m open to suggestions for a reasonably-priced digital camera that works well for close-up photos of tiny objects.

2 Responses
  1. Brad R Hassell permalink
    July 7, 2018

    I found a little lizard in my neighborhood grocery store trying to figure out what he is if anybody can help please email me back I’ll send pictures

  2. July 9, 2018

    The big question is, where is your neighborhood? If you are in or near Florida, I expect that a Brown Anole is pretty likely. If it has sticky pads on its feet, some sort of gecko is a good possibility.

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