Dr Virago Pete's
NW Illinois Local Wildlife

As I work on projects (electronics, mechanics, inventions, video/film etc) I sometimes perform these functions indoors or outdoors depending on the project and the weather.

In my life and workday - I sometimes notice nature and snap a photo as I dont always see that sort of thing. I tend to snap photos where there is something of interest to me because something it out of the ordinary there.

A big dragonfly on my driveway after a big rainstormy night. The tail is broken off and there are tiny bugs picking at it. This photo was taken at 8:30AM approx and by 10AM it was gone- dragged away by other insects. My driveway is about 150ft from a small freshwater lake about 1 mile in diameter. This dragonfly probably spent its existence looking for prey along the shore such as mosquitos and other waterfront bugs. Sometime fish and birds eat them. Dragonflies are very agile fliers and just as agile as the very best radio control helicopter pilots. They dart and weave and fly instantly from one point to another point.

Here is a link on youtube which shows a very very very very professional Radio Control helicopter doing aerobatics.

Im not affili8ated with this youtube video - this is very impressive radio control flying .
(copy/paste into your web browser to view.)


I see this type of aerobatics in nature - dragonflies fly like this everyday!!!!! The other flying insects that dragonflies prey on are no match for their excellent flying skills. Its too bad this one is dead. I rarely see one closeup. This is a big one. Its too bad the storm killed it. In nature nothing goes to waste - there will be nothing left of the dead dragonfly after the little scavenger bugs get done with it.

Im sure it didnt die on the driveway - the little scavenger bugs are pulling it somewhere and who knows where they found it? Maybe it was pulled a long way in just a short amount of time.

The above picture is sideways - the head is up and the tail is down - I just tilted the camera for a better camera shot.
The above two photos are of the very same shell - just different camera angle. This is hanging on my fence about 5 inches from the ground. It is a Cicada shell (pronounced "SSSSi Cay Da" - the i is pronounced with a short i sound) is when they molt and transform into a bug that resembles a fly but about 1-2 inches long and bright green with a big head. During the summer months they make a ZZZZZZZZZZ      ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ noise that seems to be coming from the power lines as it is very much like an electric noise. But the Cicada bugs are making that noise.

They dont dont attack or cause any trouble - it is not a problematic bug. It is so very rare to actually see one. A few years ago I did see a Cicada as I was washing my carpet outside with a power washer and I suppose it was thirsty and wanted some water on that hot summer day. I took a picture of it - which I still have somewhere. Ill find that photo and post here on this webpage in the future.

As I go to use my lawnmower for the weekly cut-the-grass I saw a spiderweb on the lawnmower's handle. There is a little dragonfly (dried and long gone) caught in the web. There is no silk cocoon around the dragonfly. The photo is hard to see due to bright sun. It is rare to see a dragonfly. I dont know if this is a different kid of dragonfly or just a young small one.

I took a stick and scooped up the spider web and dried dragonfly and put it by the fence spiderweb - on the ground - so I can have a clean lawnmower handle.

As I was bringing out my solar panel, I noticed a grasshopper landing on my driveway. I went inside and got my camera and when I came out it was still sitting there. I snapped 3 photos and the closest one about 1 foot away. I didnt expect it to stay there but it didnt move at all. Its camoflauge blends in perfectly with the driveway. It was probably very scared of me but I didnt do anything to it - just snapped a few pictures for 1 minute and left it alone.

It is a medium sized one - I estimate about 1-1/2 inches long. I didnt use a tape measure as I didnt want to spook it.

I havent seen a grasshopper in several years and I have thousands of black crickets in my lawn and backyard. Im sure grasshoppers and crckets get crunched and killed when people cut their grass. I was glad to see there are some left as I remember you can catch then carefully with your cupped hands and then release them without damage.

I didnt poke or prod or harass it in any way.
Here is a big spiderweb at the back corner of my fence. I dont see a spider and I just left it alone. The Cicada shell is just to the left of this big spiderweb. I didnt touch any of this as I dont need to disturb nature doing what it does. I just leave it alone. Im sure when winter storms are here - all that will just blow off my fence and there will be no trace of it left.The big storm from last night put a bunch of leaves on the spider web. I dont see any insects caught there - just debris from the storm.

 Update 9/26/15

As I was taking may recycling/trash outside to put into plastic bin receptacles at 8PM- it is now dark earlier due to the near falltime season- I saw my kitchen window lit from the lamp inside. I saw the shadow/outline of a BIG spider and grabbed my camera and turned on the flash. I put the camera about 5 inches from the spider. It is illuminated by the outdoor light and also the flash. I tried 3 photos and this was the clearest one.

The Fat spider definitely has a good spot as every once in a while a housefly will sneak inside during my taking-out-the-trash and I have not had a housefly sneak inside for several months. 

To take this photo I leaned against the house with my elbow to steady the shot. The spider is vertical with its head straight down and its hind-end straight up. You can see the edge of the aluminum framed window. My fine-mesh window screen keeps the critters out.

I left the spider alone and only spent about 1 minute taking 3 photos - I didnt poke or disrupt it in any way. It didnt move or react to me in any way. I try to leave nature alone.

Update 6/30/16

I had been keeping an eye on this spider after the above photo and it died approx in November 2016 and was curled up in my window ledge and looked bloated and was no longer brightly colored. Suprizingly this dead spider was anchored to my windowsill ledge and didnt blow off even through the tough Chicago area winter. It was there until April and I looked for it at the end of April again and was gone. I didnt do anything to it and never touched it. I dont know if this spider laid eggs or if the eggs were still within the dead spider - or what. I certainly didnt interfere in its life cycle. It helped me control alot of tiny flying knats and this spider was very fat and well fed. I have a few photos of the dead spider - I have to find them on my cameras SD card and will post them in the future.

As I travel to stores or run errands I find metal scraps and have a large bucket full of lead tire weights, hooks, screws, springs, washers etc which I sometimes recycle after sandblasting the metal free of rust. Sometimes this metal scrap finds its way into my pocket and as I look for my keys to my door - I empty my pockets of this scrap onto the window ledge. The dead spider is among this pocket scrap and the spider chose to die there- probably protected from the wind somewhat that way.

Update 10/6/15
I put a row of bricks and local stones under my deck edge - to keep animals from living there. Such as raccoon, opossum, skunk, or other small rodents. As they can do damage to the wood. I like nature but you have to protect your house and property otherwise there will be holes and leaks etc. A strategically placed brick or rock (to keep them out in the first place) is less cruel than poisons or traps (later). It is important to keep up with signs that they are looking to inhabit. I see a burrowed little trench near my deck and that means there is a critter looking to live under there.

I didnt block the trench hole as I dont want to kill it. I have to determine if there is some animal there and the make some kind of one-way flapper so it can get out but cant go back in.
Update 6/30/16
Ok I finally found my old photos of the Cicada (looks like a big housefly) about an inch and a half long approximately.

I was power washing my throwrugs several years ago on top of a wooden pallette/crate so the rug was elevated off of the asphalt driveway- this keeps new dirt off the rug while the dirty water runs down through the slats in the crate.

A big cicada spooked me by being attracted to the water and is a very slow flyer and made a big clumsy half circle and a low pitched drone sound of its wings zzzzzzzzzz and I hadnt expected that while power washing my rug. And it made a large half circle slow flying swoop and went underneath the openings in the palette/crate/skid. I didnt even know what it was - and then I looked for it and saw the green cicada. I saw one once as a kid but I remember it was black in color (if memory serves) but this one was green. I went inside and grabbed my camera and snapped these pictures. I left it alone and didnt bother it. I checked back in 15 minutes to see if it was still there and I never saw it again. I didnt run the power washer again that day. I left the cicada alone.

I think it needed a drink of water.

Update 9/18/16
The photos are from approx 2008 and I just found them after much searching.

It is possible the Cicada was attracted to the sound of the gasoline engine powered powerwasher sound. I have included 2 photos of the powerwasher here as a gallery and photos of powerwasher taken the same day.

About a week ago, I was walking down a public sidewalk which leads from a local shopping center to the Post Office on a gloomy sporatically drizzling rain day. This crooked winding sidewalk is right next to unkempt forest on one side. I saw a little bright green cicada sitting motionless on the sidewalk. I didnt touch it or disturb it in any way. It is very rare to see one. It was about 1 inch long and smaller than I remember the other ones I recall. It had a little beady eye on each side of its head. The thing I remember was how shiny and pearl-like the eyes were. It didnt move at all- very motionless and unresponsive towards me. I didnt go very close to it and didnt try to spook it. I dont think anyone would step on it as there was no pedestrians at all on that crooked winding sidewalk on the rainy day. I was the only one stupid enough to walk to the Post Office that day. I didnt have any camera with me. It was a lighter green than my photo above. I think it crawled up out of the ground from the forest and was sitting on the sidewalk- maybe it likes the drizzling rain? When I saw it there - it wasnt drizzling rain. When I was done at the Post Office and came back on the same sidewalk - it was gone.

I noticed this black with yellow pinstripes dragonfly on the side of my house as I was leaving to go grocery shopping. I quickly went inside and snapped 4 photos and then went shopping for an hours and came back - the dragonfly was still there. There were some gusts of wind and the left side wings were getting blown around alot but this dragonfly was determined to stay put. It didnt move at all. I didnt touch it or tease it or anything. I was about 2 feet away when I snapped the photos. I dont believe in harassing wildlife - leave them alone. Just enjoy them visually but dont interfere with them. I very rarely see a big dragonfly.

I occasionally see a small dragonfly as I walk sometimes to the post office and along my way I encounter the very same blue small dragonfly on the very same stretch of sidewalk on the other side of town. The blue small dragonfly over there likes to inspect what Im carrying and darts around to take a look. I never harass it or anything.  They are nice.