Venus (above, right) and Jupiter, photographed from the end of my block at 8:04 p.m. Eastern (4-second exposure at f3.2) on March 23, 2012. I've also tweaked contrast and gamma. My view had been clouded out on March 21 and 22.
Earlier in the day I spotted this beauty:
Fiery Searcher, Calosoma scrutator , Family Carabidae (Ground Beetles). Also called "The Searcher" and "Caterpillar Hunter." "One of the most beautiful North American beetles," says Bugguide. "Adults and larvae prey on caterpillars. Adults will climb trees in search of their prey."
In this case, the beetle climbed the wall of our local bank. I spotted it in midafternoon on a particularly hot day for this time of year, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees F (32.2 deg. C).
Not far from the beetle I spotted these carpenter ants:
These two individuals (male on the left, queen on the right) joined many others. Genus Camponotus, Family Formicidae (Ants). Carpenter ants generally swarm here in April, so these have arrived a bit early.
"During the flight season, carpenter ants can often be found in alarming numbers," writes the University of Florida. "Sometimes homeowners are concerned about damage to the structural integrity of their homes, which they sometimes incorrectly learn, is caused by Florida carpenter ants. However,... Florida carpenter ants seek either existing voids in which to nest or excavate only soft materials such as rotten or pithy wood and Styrofoam. Other concerns are that these ants sting (they do not) and bite (they do)."