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