Macro Wildlife Photography

Summer is the time of year when insects are out in huge numbers; the bees cover the flowers, joined by butterflies and moths. This makes these few months arguably the best time for getting out and spotting invertebrates, and therefore a great time to photograph them too.

Just a short walk around Papercourt brings up many different species of insect at this time of year, mainly bees and spiders. We headed down to search the bushes and nettles for anything interesting.

The easiest to spot were certainly the bumblebees, which was great to see given their dramatic decline in this country in the last century. There were large numbers of them feeding on the berry bushes beside the path, allowing us to get close enough to take some good macro photos, which clearly show the bees in all their glory, in enough detail to make out the hairs that line their bodies.

Flying amongst the stinging nettles that were creeping ever further across the path, in some places making them difficult to cut through, were a good number of damselflies. Being so close to where we were walking, they were also very easy to photograph, with the photos again being in enough detail to see their eyes, wings and shell-like bodies very clearly.

Then, just as we were watching one damselfly flying through the nettles, trying to get a photo, the damselfly flew very close to a dead twig, and suddenly became caught in what was left of a spider's web. As it struggled, the spider came along and tried to hold the damselfly in place to feed on later, but, luckily for the damselfly, the destroyed web wasn't strong enough to hold it for long, and it managed to set itself free. It just goes to show how the battle for survival is constantly being fought right under our noses, from the tiny battles in the undergrowth all the way up to the more visible battles in the skies and fields.

Other insects inhabiting the undergrowth were harlequin ladybirds. We saw two different varieties: one black with two red spots broken in the centre by another small black dot, and one red with numerous black spots covering its wings. Harlequin ladybirds have been declared the UK's fastest invading species. They were first discovered as being in the country in 2004 in Essex, and are a problem here as they are known to prey on our native ladybirds; they are believed to have contributed to the decline of at least seven native ladybird species, most notably the two-spot which has declined by 44%.

Looking in the undergrowth, even for a short time in your garden is bound to bring up some interesting insects, so give it a go!


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