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Milkweed Beetle Bests Competition in July Photo Contest

Photo for: Milkweed Beetle Bests Competition in July Photo Contest

Photo courtesy of Greg Johnson

A red milkweed beetle nestled in a milkweed leaf won July's portion of the Preserve the Moment photo contest. 

The winning shot was snapped by Greg Johnson of Bolingbrook at Whalon Lake. Judges were drawn to the photo's exquisite detail and interesting composition. The photo shows the beetle cupped in a leaf that is serving as the creature's lunch. 

Johnson said he was enjoying a walk around Whalon Lake looking for interesting subject matter he could photograph with his macro lens when his significant other pointed out the beetle.

“ … I took a few pictures, trying to get nice and close but still encompass the leaf in the picture as a nice contrast to the red of the beetle,” he said of the winning shot. “I really like looking for opportunities to bring the smaller things in life to a bigger light through photos.” 

Johnson started taking pictures after he purchased his first digital single-lens reflex camera in 2016. He has been visiting the forest preserves at least twice a month since 2017 because it’s a great stress reliever, he said.

“Just being able to enjoy nature and see various wildlife is very calming,” he explained. 

At first, he photographed mostly birds and flowers. 

“But when I started purchasing more lenses for my camera, in particular my macro lens, I started taking joy in getting extra close to things,” he said. “The lens allowed me to blow up things that were normally really small to the eye to a much larger picture where you can see the finer details.” 

Johnson said he has never really shared his photos before, but he thought entering the contest would be a good way to see if people liked his work. 

“It also served as good motivation to get out and keep using my camera, which can sometimes be put on the back-burner due to the busyness of life,” he said. 

Honorable mentions for the month were awarded to:

Eileen Capodice of Minooka for her silhouette of a black-eyed Susan at Rock Run Rookery. 
Michelle Wendling of Joliet for her picture of a bug-eyed dragonfly perched on a stem at Theodore Marsh. 
Mark Hanna of Romeoville for his photo of a deer and her fawns striking a pose at O'Hara Woods Preserve.  
Ronald Kapala of Shorewood for his shot of a colorful sunset at Lake Chaminwood Preserve.  

All of the contest's photo entries can be viewed on the District's Flickr page

Johnson’s photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors after the contest concludes on December 31.

Contest participants may enter up to five digital photos per month. All photos must be uploaded via the District’s contest upload page. Be sure to fill out all of the required categories, including the date and location the photo was taken.


Photos must be taken by amateur photographers age 18 or older, and they must be snapped in a Will County forest preserve during the contest period, which began April 1. For instance, pictures taken at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and Pilcher Park, which is a City of Joliet park, will not qualify for the contest.

For a list of all Forest Preserve locations, check out the District's preserve page and be sure to read the contest rules before entering. Entries not adhering to the rules will automatically be disqualified.

The Preserve the Moment photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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