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!
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. This 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.
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.
But I think it is, in fact, nephrotoma flavipalpis. This is the first time I have noticed one of these in my garden.
Tomorrow’s Autumn post will be prettier, I promise.
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.
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.
Definitely a midge.
Some are not so welcome, or pretty. Don’t bite me! But isn’t the sumach leaf lovely?
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.
Carrying your prey across a tightrope of the thinnest grass stem is just showing off.
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.
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’!
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’.
This one isn’t flying, but I liked the light so included it anyway.
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.
This 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. The 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. The 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.
All these shots were taken at 3,200 ISO. Not too shabby. The new camera passes the ISO test.