Daniel Greenwood

The language of leaves

Posts tagged ‘Zebra jumping spider’

GDN - 16-5-2020-lo-res-12

Macro Monday 25th May 2020

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to British readers. Recent weather has been hot, with strong winds coming in on Friday, blowing macro out of the equation. I’ve kept to my routine of garden and local walking.

Last week I said the bumblebee workers were beginning to appear, and this week I’m keeping up to my promise.

GDN - 16-5-2020-lo-res-05

I took lots of photos of bumblebees visiting flowers but they are very difficult to get in focus because of the shallow depth of field that macro lenses have. Therefore, the only decent photos I got were the header image and this here. These open spiked flowers are excellent for bumblebees, similar to foxgloves.

GDN - 16-5-2020-lo-res-13

I had better luck with the solitary bees such as this mason bee visiting a cranesbill flower. I’ve noticed that our bee hotel is now quiet and the early spring activity has ended. But the mason bees are still active. I wonder where they’re spending their time?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few weeks ago I mentioned a mason bee that was giving me the right royal runaround. I think this is the same bee. I can see it from the window upstairs as it find the same place to bask on a sleeper that separates our garden from the brick patio.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here he or she is again up close. I love the golden sheen of its head, it’s almost like something from an episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

GDN - 16-5-2020-lo-res-09

This is a new bee for my garden list and a species I haven’t seen before. It’s a relative of the hairy-footed flower bee which is a common early spring species. I think it’s a four-banded flower bee, Anthophora quadrimaculata. They nest in buildings. There’s plenty of dodgy mortar around where I live to provide them with a home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moving on from the bees, despite what this hoverfly may have wanted, many species pretend to have the look of a wasp or bee. This is an area of evolutionary biology I’d like to learn more about (if you know a good book, please let me know). This is a bee-mimicking hoverfly. This one is mimicking a carder bumblebee with its ginger thorax (I’ve got one too).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s not just hoverflies that mimic bees and wasps. One afternoon I noticed there was a wasp beetle sitting on my window ledge. In London I’ve seen these beetles on yellow and black things that help them to camouflage. I once saw one on the pedestrian road crossing box which is black and yellow. Urban insectlife at its best.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the bug world I found this mirid bug posing on the lamb’s ear (which, by the way, is so close to flowering). It had a lovely orange glow to its body and eye, merging with the green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I was a teenager I can recall insects crash landing behind the TV on summer nights when we had the window open. The culprit was almost always a hawthorn shieldbug smashing into the lamp. This week one tried to join me at my desk while I worked from home. Perhaps this was the same bug that I originally met on the garden fence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having spent time trying to find jumping spiders, they are now coming to me. Eating lunch in the garden, I have found jumping spiders exploring my arms and legs. They’re really very sweet arachnids. I’m not sure if it’s producing this spider silk or just crossing it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was another chance encounter in the lamb’s ear, where all the cool invertebrates hang out. I couldn’t resist keeping the background bokeh in the crop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I accept that some spiders are less cute and fluffy. But this yellow crab spider was incredible. It was hanging around the lamb’s ear seeking its prey. It didn’t really mind me getting close with my small mirrorless camera. I know many people are missing hugs right now, but this probably isn’t the hug you’re looking for.

Thanks for reading.

More macro

2 Comments

GDN-6-5-2020-hi-res-06

Macro Monday 11th May 2020

Stay alert, for insects that is. We’ve seen some hot weather in the past week and it’s brought the insect life back out after a cool previous week. With the physical distancing measures still in place, it’s not possible to do any meaningful macro work away from home. I have been on my official walk from home with a macro lens but it’s not the time. Despite this, the one thing I am reminded of again and again is, with macro I get my best results in my garden. It’s a small patch in a network of open gardens in an urban location, but it gives me the chance to focus on small areas.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-01

The winner of this week’s challenge is thyme. If you want to support pollinators, plant this. Scatter seeds amongst brickwork and it can also come through. It’s also a wonderful herb for cooking and other purposes.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-03

This week it provided forage for a mint moth, a species I snapped a couple of weeks ago on my car. This is a beautiful and quite common day-flying moth. I can only imagine what other moth species might be visiting this under dark.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-09

They are real charmers and should also help to educate most people in England who have been misinformed that all moths eat your clothes. They don’t, and they need you to give them plenty of thyme.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-19

The thyme also attracted a new species for me (not necessarily a big deal) in the form of a five-spotted club-horned wasp. I was unsure whether this was a bee or a wasp. I thought it looked fairly close to the Lasioglossum bees due to its long, thing shape and long antennae. On Twitter I got an answer from Lukas Large that it was in fact a wasp. They’re cleptoparasites of mason bees, which we have plenty of in our bee hotel and other parts of the garden.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-14

On that same sunny lunchbreak I found what I think is probably a yellow-legged mining bee. Here you can see its pollen cache scattering onto the surface of the leaf.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-32

A sign that the countryside is tantalisingly close is this dungfly. There are over 60 species of dungfly in the UK so one shan’t trouble one’s self with an ID. I’ve only ever seen these as visitors to gardens or in grasslands grazed by cattle. They are quite hilarious on cow pats. Had to be there.

GDN-9-5-2020-lo-res-12

On a greyer afternoon I took a compulsory visit to the lamb’s ear patch and, as ever, there was something hanging out in its fluffy world of leaves. This is an oil beetle.

GDN-9-5-2020-lo-res-20

Many thanks must go to this beetle for being so chilled in front of the camera. He/she has the potential to go far as a macro model.

GDN-6-5-2020-lo-res-41

Condragulations are due to another species this week. Zebra jumping spiders are regular visitors to just about every wooden surface in my garden. I find getting their eyes in focus really very difficult, as I’ve said before. With this beautiful spider I only noticed later that the sun cast a long shadow, making it look far greater than it is. It’s like the old proverb ‘fear makes the wolf bigger than he is‘. Really this spider is so harmless and cute it could help people who have an irrational fear of them. Maybe not.

GDN-9-5-2020-lo-res-29

The moral of how much ‘better’ my photos seem to be at home played out again. I had just been on my ration of walking and not really managed to get any photos I was happy with. Then I came home and this zebra jumping spider walked over and looked right up at me. Bear in mind this spider is about as big as a couple of grains of rice. The look it gives are either an eye-rolling, here we go again, or a, just take the photo and leave me alone.

Whatever it was thinking, I was happy.

Thanks for reading.

More macro

 

Leave a comment
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Planthoppers on a sage leaf

Macro Monday 4th May 2020

This week I’m going to get my excuses in early. The weather in West Sussex has been cool and wet over the past week. The insect life has was shoved back into March, with April ending as many would have expected it to start. This is not good for fairweather macro photographers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Working from home for 40 hours a week doesn’t help. Lunch breaks are spent trying to make food, rather than having it ready to eat. This is also the time in the day when the insect life is most active – that is not necessarily a good thing because they’re too quick and the light can be very harsh. Last week it chucked down all kinds of rain during my lunch breaks. Saturday was much better though and the time for the flowering of lambs’ ears gets closer and closer. The image above shows my main studio.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Up close you can see how attractive the leaves are for planthoppers. They look warm and easy to attach to. This planthopper had its own window through which it could look out onto the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I noticed far fewer bees this week, though the bumblebee colonies are open for business. This fly was resting on a raspberry leaf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have inherited most of the plants in our garden and I am waiting to see what these flowers are. For the past few weeks ants have been feeding on the leaves as they open, no doubt producing nectar or something that is useful to them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zebra jumping spiders are one of the only species I ever see in my garden but for maybe one other. I’ve actually had one in the bathroom sink. At last, I managed to get one with its eyes in focus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am very fortunate to be able to walk to the countryside from where I live. I haven’t driven or travelled to any green space other than on foot or by bike for six weeks. I believe very strongly that people should not be taking the piss at the moment. Also, the guidance from the police is massively confusing and I know it is acceptable to drive a short distance away if you need to for exercise. This is a nature reserve on the edge of the River Arun that I visited at the end of the week. My garden is small and in an urban location with little connectivity with wider green spaces. Here however there was much more going on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In 2014 I went to the Czech Republic at this time of year and there was a ‘plague’ of St. Mark’s flies. I have never seen so many insects as I did then in Czechia, they were in the towns and the countryside. I enjoy how chilled this insect is here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The hazel hedges are now fully in leaf. I found this species of lacewing with a beautiful jade eye and black and white markings to its body.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I really have no idea what this fly is, perhaps a dancefly. That is a proboscis you don’t want to meet in a dark alley. It’s obviously used to suck the life out of something.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a lovely time of year. I love when the trees flower. This is possibly the biggest clutch of oak flowers I’ve ever seen on one branch. If you can find joy in new things like this, you’re winning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The oak saplings are leafing in the grasslands, where people probably don’t want them to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first clovers are now coming into flower. Starting this weekly(!) blog in March means that now there’s a chance to look more at flowers. It will be very sad to miss the chalk downlands this year because it’s too far from my home to get to. One thing this time should teach us is how important green space is for our health. If this situation does not lead to greater protection for green space and the drive to provide more of it, then what will?

Thanks for reading.

More macro

 

 

Leave a comment