Bathing in pollen: Ladybugs and poppies

by Apr 5, 2017California

Sierra Foothills Wildflower Hikes ladybug in a poppy

When thoughts start to turn to spring and flowers, the question arises, where to find wildflowers and perhaps butterflies and ladybugs too? The hunt is on for the expanses of color, the bees, the butterflies and the beauty. In Northern California, we go looking everywhere somewhere new.

The subject: Where to find wildflowers in the Auburn State Recreation Area? They are in abundance in many corners if your timing is right and you go to the right place. Areas that get just the right amount of sun and water flourish. On this hunt for wildflowers, we chose the Foresthill Divide Loop trail, which is very popular with mountain bikers and runners alike. On the west side of the trail, you will end up closer to the American River with overlooks on tangents from the main trail. Keep your eyes peeled. On the east side of the trail, there are often hidden meadows with swaths of poppies and lupines, and yes, sometimes masses of ladybugs too coming out of hibernation.

The inspiration: We trotted out the west side of the Foresthill Divide Trail and took the first right turn to stay on the west side, then a short tangent up a hill toward the American river to find the answer to where to find wildflowers. Although not a huge hike, it was rewarding for its views and early-season flowers – it was only March but in a dry year the flowers were already popping out.

I was just as ecstatic as the butterflies and bees were with the clumps of poppies, Indian paintbrushes and lupines, among others. A ladybug had found her way to this poppy and had bathed itself in pollen. If you look closely, it is literally covered in yellow pollen! Ecstasy!

Artist’s tools: My Nikon D90 has served me well for many an adventure, as does the 18-105mm lens f/3.5-5.6, both of which I got when I returned to photography after about 25 years! What I like about this focal length on a lens is its ability to capture almost everything for me without fiddling with changing lens or being draped with several cameras with different lenses. I’m a simple photographer like that. I was set at a 1/160th of second at f/10 with a long focal length of 105mm, pushing the edges of this lens. Clouds were coming and going, meaning the sun was coming and going, forcing me to constantly change my settings. Not to mention those dang flying creatures who actually dared to, well, fly!

I prefer to avoid over-processing, so this has only the simplest of touches to bring out the ladybug and colors a bit more. This was taken in March 2015.


Looking to find more wildflowers in California?

To find more wildflowers, butterflies and ladybugs to photograph, be sure to read Sierra foothills wildflowers hike: Fields of California wildflowers and Table Mountain Reserve: Amazing California wildflowers and waterfalls and The best hike in Carmel: Palo Corona Regional Park trails and views.


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