Collembola and friends

Dicyrtomina saundersi
This little critter is a globular springtail (Dicyrtomina saundersi). At about 2mm long, it’s a tiny member of the garden wildlife fraternity. You can’t see it clearly in this image but it has a hairy behind, illustrated in the otherwise terrible shot below.

collembola

Before macro photography took its hold on me, I didn’t know these little beasts existed. They aren’t even insects. And there are loads of them, everywhere. The shot below is of a raft of assorted springtails that I found floating in a pink bucket outside the back door. I think there are 32 individuals here. Thanks to the springtail experts on Flickr, I can identify many of them:
Sminthurinus niger
Sminthurinus aureus
Dicyrtomina saundersi
Dicyrtomina ornata
Dicyrtoma fusca
Tomocerus minor
assorted Isotomidae.
There are also a couple of psocids (bark flies), which I have photographed before.
collembola
I discovered that buckets of water are often fatal because springtails, so named because of the way they leap, are unable to choose the direction of their spring. If they end up in deep water they can become trapped by meniscus effect and die. Of course, I rescued my models (how could I not after they posed so nicely) and released them onto some leaf litter.
Now that my eye is learning to spot ever smaller garden beasts, I also found this little alien, a plant hopper nymph. Odd little thing, again no more than 2mm.
insect macro
But if you google planthopper nymph, and select images, you will quickly see that this little fella doesn’t even merit an honourable mention in the roll call of strangeness.

For these images I have used my macro lens and cropped in but to get decent detail with something this small, I really need to get closer than 1:1.  Canon do a nifty lens that gets you as much as 5x magnification, although I gather it is a tricky thing to use.  I don’t have one but I do have my trusty, and inexpensive Raynox, so for the next garden safari, I will bring it along.

 

Back to Australia tomorrow.

The bigger picture

garden photography
A common approach with insect photography is to zoom in close, sometimes very close, to show the details not normally noticed by the naked eye. Sometimes it’s nice, however, to show the insect in a wider view, perhaps because it has settled on a particularly pretty flower or because the photographer wants to show the insect’s habitat. I think I come at my insect photography with the eye of an aspiring landscape photographer. I naturally tend to situate my insect subjects in a wider setting, where the background is as important as the insect. For me, although the top shot is pleasing, I prefer the version below, because I enjoy the background as much as I do the bee.
garden photography
In this last image, the bee provides a focal point, a starting and finishing place for the viewer’s eye that, hopefully, stops the picture becoming simply a ‘wallpaper’ image. But, for me, the real impact of this image is the gentle, muted colours of the out of focus border.
carder bee
What do you think?