Inevitably green

Clearing out old files, still, I came across some shots of greenfly from May and June and thought they made a set of greedy, green, garden pests. With apologies to all the gardeners out there.
A couple of these shots are as much if not more about the background than the aphids themselves.
They are a little bit pretty seen singly like this? Not convinced? 😉
Over on my Facebook page I am giving away a 2014 calendar to one winner chosen on Monday next week from those who nominate a Surrey beauty spot. Do visit if you’re local. I am planning to compile a list of nominated Surrey locations to photograph in 2014, with a view to making a 2015 calendar from the best images.

Maternity ward


Seeing this, one can understand why greenfly are public enemy number one in the garden. The aphid’s latest ‘baby’ has not even dropped to join its siblings yet, but another baby is already being pushed out.  And the aphid ‘mum’ is feeding at the same time.  Way to multi-task!

Over at The Shed Gallery blog today I am discussing some of my favourite images by other Shed creatives.  And not a greenfly in sight, I promise.



An aphid caught in a web awaits its doom.


Dar’st thou die?

The sense of death is most in apprehension;

And the poor beetle that we tread upon

In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great

As when a giant dies.

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, III.i

The Spider and the Fly


“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue –
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour – but she ne’er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

Mary Howitt, ‘The Spider and the Fly’ (1829)

Aphids of every hue


A few weeks ago, I told a story about a conflict between three species of minibeast in my garden. This week, I thought I might take three days to focus on each of those same three species individually. I promise to do something non-buggy on Thursday.

I am starting with the bottom of the food chain, the lowly aphid. The top image is hot off the presses, taken in my garden yesterday. We actually had some sun this weekend! Back to rain today though. Anyway, I call it “Bringing up Baby”. Babysitting is such hard work, especially when the toddler will keep running away from you!


Aphids are a lot less attractive in numbers, especially when sucking the life force from one of my rose bushes. The picture above makes me think of sci-fi and contagion-style movies. Euch.


Still, aphids are a vital part of the garden food chain, like the wildebeests or antelopes of the African plains. I call the shot above “The Bubble Trap”. A blackfly is caught in a double trap of web and water droplet.

Here’s another capture of the same doomed aphid:


All that is left of the aphid in the next shot is a single wing:


Singly, however, the greenfly remains an unexpectedly graceful creature, its delicate form suggesting vulnerability:

“He didn’t want to stop cutting, and hacked away so furiously that he shook with the vibrations, wedged between his two levels of rock, like a greenfly caught between the pages of a book which threatened to slam suddenly shut.”
Emile Zola, Germinal, trans. Peter Collier


Tomorrow, it’s the aphid farmer’s turn, the garden ant. I bet you can’t wait. 😉