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.
I am delighted that this little bee has been Commended in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. Halictus bees are some of the smallest bees we have in the UK, only about 6mm long. Small but rather pretty.
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…
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!)
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.
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.
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.