A louse by any other name

insect on grass

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.

insect

Collembola and friends

Dicyrtomina saundersi
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.

collembola

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:
Sminthurinus niger
Sminthurinus aureus
Dicyrtomina saundersi
Dicyrtomina ornata
Dicyrtoma fusca
Tomocerus minor
assorted Isotomidae.
There are also a couple of psocids (bark flies), which I have photographed before.
collembola
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.
insect macro
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.

 

Back to Australia tomorrow.

Little nymphs

20121021-181429.jpg
Is this not a cute little thing? This is a psocid nymph, pottering about on a dogwood leaf. These are so small you hardly notice them, unless you spend a ridiculously long time staring at leaves, risking ridicule or at least benign amusement from your family.

20121021-181646.jpg
This little nymph has a parasite in its belly, which I understand is very common for these little critters. But if you ignore the parasite, it tones quite prettily with its colourful Autumn environment. Perhaps that’s just me…

Pretty in yellow

bark louse

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But to me this little yellow psocid, hanging out against a complimentary background, is a thing of beauty.

bark louse

Its common name is rather less attractive – it is a bark louse.

bark louse

Unlike its relatives who live as pests in the home, this critter eats organic matter in the garden and really isn’t interested in coming indoors.  It is very small indeed, about the size of a garden ant.

bark louse

Psocids in the garden are often mistaken for aphids, but they can be distinguished by their large jaws, resembling those of crickets, and long antennae.   If you can squint closely enough.  Really, these details can only be noticed with the aid of a macro lens, or a magnifying glass.

bark louse

I took far too many shots of this little critter.  I need just one for a panel I am working on.  Which do you like best?