On Friday afternoon I spent a couple of happy hours rediscovering my macro ‘eye’ by photographing bees on cherry blossom. The light was bright and unpromising but I found a spot in the shade of a cherry tree where I could capture something of the softness and delicacy of the blossom. I am not sure who was happier, me or the bustling bees.
Continuing my campaign to convince certain people that bugs can be pretty, here are two images of a psocid, commonly known as a bark louse. Psocids are very small, and easily overlooked. This little louse was the star of a post way back in Autumn 2012, but for some reason I omitted these pictures that time. As ever with my insect photography, the images are as much about the background as the bug itself.
A shot from October that I had overlooked. Lacewings appear delicate but are formidable predators of aphids. According to my Collins Complete Guide to British Insects, ‘the larvae of some species camouflage themselves with the dead skins of their prey’ (p.106). I thought it was pretty, toning with the autumn colour of my dogwood tree. Lacewings look amazing in flight; a photographic challenge for this year perhaps…
Cropped for those who like their bugs up close and personal
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.
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:
There are also a couple of psocids (bark flies), which I have photographed before.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a while since I posted a bug shot. Well, at least a couple of weeks, which is a long bug-holiday for Focused Moments! These are shots from 2010, found today while trying to clear some space on my hard drive. I recently heard someone describe dragonfly faces as scary but I think they’re rather cute; they always look to me as if they are smiling.
f.13, 1/80, ISO 400, 100mm
Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.
This bizarre creature is a lace bug, probably stephanitis rhododendri, which is bad news for the rhododendrons and azaleas in my garden. Or it might be stephanitis takeyai, which is bad news for the pieris in my garden. So it is bad news for me as a gardener either way! I don’t know why it was posing in my sumac tree instead of one of its preferred meals, but I thought the colours worked rather nicely.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not? -Kung Fu, Pilot episode (1972) (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)