More tiny secrets

fly macro

I thought I’d follow up yesterday’s post, The secret world of the smallest things, with more of the most miniscule critters in my garden. They are little more than moving dots to the naked eye but the macro lens and cropping reveals another world.

wasp macro

Possibly a very small sort of wasp.

I am not going to be able to identify some of these tiny creatures.  I know when I am out of my depth!  I am content just to enjoy them, and their colourful landscape.

insect on leaf

Definitely a midge.

Some are not so welcome, or pretty.  Don’t bite me!  But isn’t the sumach leaf lovely?

insect macro

Uphill is hard work!

I promise no insects tomorrow.



The secret world of the smallest things

fly on santolina

Misty morning

As Autumn sets in and the larger, more showy insects start to disappear, my macro lens turns to the smallest creatures, so small that I can only see the details by photographing them and cropping.  Each of these critters is much smaller than they appear here, hardly noticeable as they go about their secret lives.

fly and prey on grass


Carrying your prey across a tightrope of the thinnest grass stem is just showing off.

fly in golden grass

Golden grasses hide a wealth of miniature life

I like to show these critters with plenty of space around them, to show how very small they are.  And their landscape can sometimes be as intriguing as the insects themselves.

spider and prey

Small but deadly

Beware the silken hammock

spider in web
A beautifully woven hammock of silk catches the light. Inside, a tiny green spider awaits its next meal.
Cucumber green orb spider
When I first posted this I identified it, rather hesitatingly, as araniella cucurbitina, the cucumber green orb spider. I suspected a female given the size of that shadow. The males are more streamlined:
spider in web

However, I now think the spiders in this post may be nigma walckenaeri.  Any experts around? There are several rather pretty spiders lurking among the turning leaves of my sumach tree. I can’t positively identify the next one through all the silk but it may well be another araniella cucurbitina.  Or maybe not…
green spider in silk
It is definitely spider season here. I wish all the huge ones presently invading my home looked like these instead.

Lighthouse to nowhere

A shot from our trip to Nantucket in August 2011. The guidebook advertised this lighthouse as perched precariously on the cliff edge. ‘Photo op!’, thought I and dragged the family out there only to find that it had been moved! It is now situated in some fairly uninspiring and very safe scrub. At least the sky was interesting enough to make it worth converting this shot to black and white, pushing the blues towards black and the vegetation towards white to create a pseudo-infrared effect.

Mystery river fly

Insect on gate
I found this beautiful creature sheltering from the rain under one of the curlicues of our wrought-iron gate. It is some sort of river fly but I haven’t conclusively identified it more specifically. Any river fly experts out there? It has two long tails, unlike the common mayfly which has three, and apparently only one pair of wings. I found it nowhere near a river so I an guessing it is one of the river flies that will inhabit standing water. Anyway, whatever it is, it’s a beauty! Here’s a close-up:
close-up of insect in gate

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns

Jersey, Channel Islands

                            … For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things…

William Wordsworth, ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ (1798), ll.88-102

Incredible flying bees

Carder bee on geranium
Despite the drop in temperatures over the last couple of days, the hardy carder bees have still been out and about, seemingly tougher than the honey bees who have almost disappeared. Believe it or not, this geranium is called ‘Jolly Bee’!
Agastache 'Blackadder'
They are still happily visiting carder bee heaven. I can now be more specific than my earlier identification of it as a member of the mint family; it is Agastache ‘Blackadder’.
bee on purple flowers
This one isn’t flying, but I liked the light so included it anyway.
bumble bee in flight
There were a few bumble bees about this morning. This is the first time I have seen them feeding on the solanum jasminoides flowers. Perhaps they are less fussy at this time of year when other flowers are fading. Look at that pollen sac! Amazing that it can fly at all.

The first day of Autumn

phalangium opilioThis week there has been a nip in the air. There are suddenly fewer winged insects about and a first-day-of-the season safari round the garden this morning yielded some distinctly Autumnal sights. This harvestman was crouching on a fading rudbeckia flower.
 lychnis coronariaThe lychnis coronaria have gone to seed. I took a quick photograph before shaking the seeds liberally over the border. They are very reliable self-seeders in my garden, even colonising the lawn given half a chance.
sepia macroThe hollyhock seed heads are opening. I do love the way the seeds are wedged in – they remind me of oysters.
Despite the chill, the speckled bush crickets are still about. This male stared at me rather belligerently, I thought.
speckled bush cricket
All these shots were taken at 3,200 ISO. Not too shabby. The new camera passes the ISO test.

Tiny spider busy at work

spider weaves its web on flowerWhy is nothing ever easy? My new camera arrived today but did I spend the afternoon putting it through its paces? No, I spent it trying to sort out all the pesky patches and downloads needed to enable my software to read the new camera’s RAW files. Anyway, I got there in the end. So this is its debut shot. To give some idea of the scale, this spiderling is considerably smaller than a garden ant and the flower is a tiny alpine campanula.
A tiny spider weaves its web