Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Macro Photography, Ecology, Lichen, Bugs, Insects.

Hello again. This post is a small example of my macro photography. There are several interpretations on what macro photography is. The term is widely misused by camera/lens  manufactures as a sales ploy for example. For the purpose of this blog, I shall use the definition "extreme close-up photography".

Now for the photographs. I will not say much about each image, as many will be on the Cromwell Bottom site, (see the bottom of this post). Also, details of all the insects and lichens here, may be found on the Internet. Isn't the Net a wonderful thing? Here are a few of the insects first, then some lichens.

The first photo is of a very handsome Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar. It walked across my path while I was in the woods taking photos. It can be found in grassland, open woodlands, gardens, farmland and waste ground. The caterpillars feed on plantains, dock and dandelion.

  Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)

Next is one of my current favourite bugs. It's the Hawthorn Shield Bug. They can be found on many types of vegetation, where they eat the leaves and berries, but some are carnivorous. I'm showing three images of it. It goes through several stages before becoming adult. The first shot below is the Stage V Hawthorn Nymph. The black dots on its back can exude a nasty smelling liquid, which it uses to fight off predators.

Stage V Hawthorn Nymph (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Now the fully grown adult.

 Adult Hawthorn Shield Bug

The last shot is a close-up of its face. The two black marks, (one on either side of it's head), are not eyes. They are a defence against predators, making the bug seem bigger than it is. Its real eyes are the two small dull red ones, near the end of its nose.

Hawthorn Shield Bug's face, showing the eyes

Now for the Common Green Lacewing larvae (Chrysoperla carnea).  The adult is a beautiful, delicate looking creature, with translucent green wings and bronze eyes. I've liked them since I was a child. The larvae are extremely aggressive, voracious predators and will attack almost any insects of suitable size, particularly soft-bodied ones. The pincers near the jaws are very powerful, they will sometimes bite humans. My friend Colin was bitten by one and said it was very painful.They can grow to 8 mm and are sometimes known as aphid lions. Tiny, but will take on a human, I love that.

 Green Lacewing larvae (Chrysoperla carnea)

Here is a fly that many people are afraid of, the Cranefly. They cause more fear or panic than anything else other than spiders, yet as adults, they don't feed, bite or sting. The larvae are known as leatherjackets and are a pest, damaging food crops. They're commonly known as Daddy Longlegs in this part of the UK. There are two photos of it below.

Crane Fly (Tipula confusa)

Crane Fly (Tipula confusa) detail of head

I think that's enough creepy crawly things for this post.

Now to the lichens. This is a large group of "plants". Strictly, they are a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. The alga can photosynthesise (like green plants) and provides the fungus with sugars, while the fungus provides the alga with a protective structure in which to grow. This produces an organism that is able to live almost anywhere, shady tree trunks, rain forests, hot, dry deserts, by the coast and even on toxic mine wastes. They grow slowly and live a long time, a three inch (7.62 cm) body can be hundreds of years old. Some lichens in the Arctic are 8,600 years old.

Many lichens hard to identify, needing a specialist to do the job. I am NOT a specialist, hence some of the ones below will not have names. I've been in love with them for many years, I hope these shots will encourage some of you to go out and look for them. What may look like a grey smudge on a tree trunk, will look very different viewed through a hand lens, so take one on your next walk.

Possibly Cladonia pyxidata

I love this one, it reminds me of the much loved
childrens TV programe, the Clangers

There are at least 5 different lichens here,
on what looked like a grey mark on the tree

Cladonia macilenta

Parmelia sulcata - the yellow pustules are 
soredia (seeds or fruiting bodies)

The lichen is on the right 
On the left is what I'm fairly sure is Capillary Thread Moss (Bryum capilare)

Lichens come in a range of colours. The one below is a wonderful example, very vibrant. it's called xanthoria parietina. What I haven't said, is that most lichens are not tolerant of pollution. Lichens are used as an indicator of air pollution, the more lichens, the better the quality of the air. In the village I live in the Pennine Mountain Chain foothills, in Yorkshire, we have a great variety of lichens, on the wall, rocks, tree trunks and hanging from branches.

xanthoria parietina

If you would like to see more examples of my macro work after looking at this blog, click the following link to Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve, search through the blog archive at the right-hand side for posts with my name on. Please look at the other posts also, there are some fantastic quality macros by Colin D. If the link doesn't work, (and I have tested it, so it should) then look down the right-hand side on this blog for the Cromwell Bottom link, under Sites I'm Involved With and click that. Happy hunting.

Well, I think that will do for now. My next blog post will be Found Art and / or Natural Abstract photography. Please keep dropping by and taking a look for new posts. Tell your friends if you like what you have seen on my blog. And please, leave a comment for me, I really would like that.
All the best. Gordon.