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.

Two Burnets and a Forester

insect macro
The grassy cliffs of Sark, in the Channel Islands, are a vital habitat for insects, including a variety of butterflies and moths. When we visited in July, the five-spot burnet moth was much in evidence. Such a striking beast. I also spotted a forester moth, below. Somewhat rarer.
insect macro
Burnets are not known to be particularly flighty but they were fluttering all around me that afternoon. Perhaps it was the very breezy conditions. I wasn’t able to manage a decent in flight shot. Below is a huge and rather fuzzy crop, but a record of the moment nonetheless.
insect macro

Marmalade beauties


Final approach

One of the most common hover flies in my garden is episyrphus balteatus. I am fairly confident about my identification in four of these shots. Less so in the one below.

insect macro


I believe episyrphus balteatus is one of the flies also known by the common name, marmalade fly. Obviously, this is because of its colour and not because it has a penchant for preserves!.

insect in flight

Making a bee, err … hoverfly, line

I think hover flies are a delightful addition to the garden. The adults feed entirely on nectar but the larvae are voracious predators of aphids, which makes them jolly useful! Episyrphus balteatus is also one of the best hover fly hoverers, making it a relatively easy target for the photographer.

insect macro

Hovering over candles?

Hover flies disguise themselves as bees or wasps as a defensive mechanism. Unfortunately, they are so good at this that many people assume they are bees or wasps and, if they think the latter, they tend to swat them. What a shame. Hover flies have no sting and no downside for humans. They aren’t even interested in our food.

insect macro


First contact


Borg Queen: Brave words. I’ve heard them before, from thousands of species across thousands of worlds, since long before you were created. But, now they are all Borg.
Lieutenant Commander Data: I am unlike any lifeform you have encountered before. The codes stored in my neural net cannot be forcibly removed.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Garden critters

bombylius major

Bee fly again

As the deadline for my dissertation inexorably draws nearer, and with school holidays approaching even faster, I am having to put photography on the back burner, again. But it is bug season! Not fair! I can’t ignore all that gorgeous mini-beast action in my garden completely. So here are a few shots grabbed in illicit moments away from my studies.

insect macro

Capsid bug

These capsid bugs normally hang out on oak trees. Luckily, my neighbour has a whopper of an oak tree so we get a lot of extra bug action. Oak trees rock.

insect macro

Really very tiny anonymous fly

This fly is so small I can’t make out the detail until I grab a macro shot and view it at native resolution on my desktop. It’s too small even for my insect field guide, so I can offer no ID.  Do step up if you know what it is!


What am I?

This might be a moth. It too is very small, but rather cute, in my opinion.

I have a few more shots to share but I am going to have to be strict with myself about spending time on-line for the next few weeks. So sorry if I don’t manage to visit your site for a while. But, come September, there will be no stopping me!

Small White


I would dearly love to photograph butterflies in flight but this is no easy task.  Their flight path is ridiculously erratic and their wings flap right over their heads making focus on the eyes almost impossible.


It’s teasing me

I tried to capture this one for a long time one day last summer.  I can almost imagine it’s looking at me thinking: shall I, shan’t I?


Seriously dodgy, but it’s a start

This is the best shot I got that day.  Yes, it’s not terribly good, but at least you can tell it’s a butterfly 😉  I will try again this year. Although I have planted for insects, my garden sees very few butterflies, but a wildflower park has recently been planted not too far away and it will hopefully be open to the public for the first time this spring.  Come on Spring, hurry up!

Autumn’s winged messengers

crane fly on sumach
As Autumn sets in, leggy crane flies start to blunder into homes, mimicking moths in their attraction to light. They are not the most stylish of Nature’s creatures but this one manages to look almost elegant hanging under the pastel Autumn leaves of my sumach tree.
tipula paludosaThis is probably a female specimen of the UK’s most common variety, tipula paludosa. Not a thing of beauty, but an important part of the ecosystem. Its grubs, known as leatherjackets, feed on the roots of grass, which does not please those who love their lawns. However, they are a valuable source of food for many birds. I enjoy watching the green woodpeckers drilling for them. The crows quarter my lawn systematically, voracious terminators of leatherjackets. In the process, they incidentally save me the job of aerating the lawn and lifting the moss.
insect on sedum
insect on sedum
Needless to say, there are several varieties of crane fly in the UK. The best place I have found for identification is Nature Spot. I think this little crane fly resting on sedum flowers may be tipula confusa. And yes, I am confused.
This one is a little more impressive. It could be nephrotoma appendiculata, the spotted crane fly. Or it could be nephrotoma flavescens.
insect on leaf
But I think it is, in fact, nephrotoma flavipalpis. This is the first time I have noticed one of these in my garden.
crane fly on leaf
Tomorrow’s Autumn post will be prettier, I promise.

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.