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Image of the Day: July 2014

Staring Contest

Lubber Grasshopper

(Image credit: Abby Wood/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

A lubber grasshopper (Romalea guttata) at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These grasshoppers can be found in parts of the southern United States.

This lubber grasshopper was part of the National Zoo's Invertebrate House, which closed to the public on June 22. [Related: Dazzling Photos of Dew-Covered Insects]

Peek-a-Boo!

Eastern Screech Owl

(Image credit: Steve Gifford, USFWS)

Whooooo is there? An eastern screech owl peeks out from a tree, in this photo taken by Steve Gifford, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Eastern screech owls can be found throughout eastern North American. These small owls typically live in forests and woodlands, and can be found in many national parks and wildlife refuges across the United States. [Related: Images of Amazing Owls]

Fog-Filled Valley

Fog in Yellowstone National Park

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Fog rolls through the Yellowstone River Valley, and across the Blacktail Deer Plateau in Yellowstone National Park. The iconic park is located primarily in Wyoming, but also stretches into parts of Montana and Idaho.

One of Yellowstone's most well-known features is a geyser known as Old Faithful. The geyser erupts roughly every 50 to 90 minutes, spewing steam and hot water in a spectacular display. [Related: 8 Amazing National Park Structures]

Brewing Storm

Storm Cell Over Appalachian Mountains

(Image credit: NASA/Stu Broce)

An immense storm cell forms over the southern Appalachian Mountains, in this photo taken by NASA's ER-2 aircraft, which is used to make high-altitude observations of developing storm systems. The ER-2 aircraft snapped this photo on May 23, as part of an effort to better understand precipitation over mountainous terrain.

The study, known as the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx), was a six-week campaign that combined measurements from the ER-2 aircraft with data from rain gauges and ground radar stations across western North Carolina. [Related Gallery: Hurricanes from Above – See Nature's Biggest Storms]

Starry Night

Night Sky Over Great Basin National Park

(Image credit: National Park Service)

The pristine, star-studded sky casts a dreamlike glow over Great Basin National Park in Nevada. The park is known for its 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees, and the Lehman Caves at the base of Wheeler Peak, a 13,063-foot (3,981 meters) mountain, named for George Wheeler, an explorer and cartographer who led expeditions in the west west from 1869 to 1871.

According to the National Park Service, Great Basin has some of the darkest night skies, and is a popular destination for skywatchers seeking solitude and spectacular views. [Related: 6 Stellar Places for Skywatching in the US]

Pride of the Zoo

African Lions at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

(Image credit: Connor Mallon, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

Last month, four new African lion cubs made their debut at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The zoo's pride now consists of six cubs from two separate litters: female Shera's four cubs, and her sister Naba's two baby lions.

So far, only four of the new lions have been named, but Smithsonian officials said the other two cubs will soon be named by the zoo's board of directors. [Related: The Wild Cats of Kruger National Park]

Colorful Everglades

Everglades National Park

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Everglades National Park is a protected expanse of subtropical wilderness in Florida. The park is home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the Florida panther, the manatee and the American crocodile. [Related Gallery: Florida Everglades – Follow the 'River of Grass']

Pink Whirls

African Daisy

(Image credit: Jon Sullivan; courtesy PDPhoto.org)

A close-up shot of an African daisy (Osteospermum sp.). These eye-catching flowers, sometimes known as "Pink Whirls," are native to Africa, but can also be found across the southwestern Arabian Peninsula. [Related Gallery: 7 Potent Medicinal Plants]