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?

Male crab spider (probably)

araneus quadratus
When I first posted this, I very tentatively identified it as a male four spot orb weaver spider (araneus quadratus) (maybe). Or possibly a marbled orb weaver ( araneus marmoreus var. pyramidatus). I hadn’t found the I.D. especially easy, and asked if anyone knew better, for them to please tell me! Thanks to two very assured comments below, I have now changed the I.D. to an adult male crab spider (misumena vatia). Thank you both. I should perhaps give up trying to identify the bugs I find in my garden as my success rate is woefully low. Anyway, this tiny crab spider was photographed peering over a leaf in a tree rather high up and I was using my macro lens when I spotted it, so these are big crops. A characterful little thing.
araneus quadratus

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

insect

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

Legs!

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

Shimmer

Hawthorn Shield Bug

insect
Each Spring, the return of the insects to my garden prompts me to dust off my macro lens. After that, it tends to be the default lens until Winter sets in once more. However, it always takes me a while to get my macro eye back in. This year, other commitments meant that I didn’t have much time for photography; a foray into the garden yesterday showed me that my macro eye is most definitely still out! Never mind, there’s always next year…
insect
These shots of a hawthorn shield bug are from earlier in the year. One of the challenges with photographing insects in this country is most of them are so small. In warmer climes, there are big, chunky bugs to capture. These shield bugs are among the biggest I see in my garden, and they are still only 8-10mm when full grown.
insect
I must confess that I was not 100% certain of my ID here and originally misidentified this as a birch shield bug.  Thank you to Maria for the correction in the comments below.

insect

That’s it, I’m off.

First contact

insects

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)

Ladybirds with attitude

ladybird

Which way?

Still trawling through my hard drive trying to clear some space, I came across these ladybird images from 2011, and they seemed to make a set of ladybirds with attitude. Humour me. The first one is clearly at one of those crossroad moments in life.

ladybird on stem

The bad tempered ladybird

This one seems to be posing as the inspiration for Eric Carle’s delightful children’s book, The Bad-tempered Ladybird. I remember reading it over and over to my son when he was little.

ladybird on yellow flower

This season, stylish ladybirds wear spots to match their flower.

This ladybird is obviously a fashionista

ladybird

And for my next trick…

and this one an acrobat, or a show-off, or both.

insect taking off

I just want to be left alone

And this one has clearly had enough of being photographed!
Sanity will return tomorrow. I promise.