Beauty is in the EYES of the beholder

November 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

There is a common saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. If that is true, then the Flower feeding March fly must have one of the most beautiful souls around.

The faceted eyes of most insects certainly have something captivating about them… I’m sure most macro shooters will remember the first time they really captured the true detail of these structures. When the eyes come with their own built in psychedelic light show it’s time to suit up and make sure you get the shot!

It’s not uncommon for these faceted type of eyes to show lovely colours when photographed using flash. I can honestly say however that I have never come across another subject where the colour is so vivid to the naked eye, even sitting in shade without direct sunlight.

* Images below can be clicked to view larger *

Flower feeding march fly

Flower feeding march fly


Flower feeding march fly (Scaptia auriflua)
Canon 5D, Full flash, MPE-65 @ 3.7x, 1.2x and 1.2x


The flower feeding march fly (Scaptia auriflua) is a species that I have only come across once before. On that occasion, the subject got the better of me and was off in a flurry before I even got the camera to my eye as I had stumbled upon the subject and really had no chance. This time I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of dazzling colour amongst the leaves and had the time and patience to approach in the right manner. Fortunately, this lovely lady was happy to sit still while I grabbed the shots.

On a scale of 1 to 10, march flies (also known as horseflies) tend to be at the lower end of the scale in terms of likeability for me. They don’t hesitate to latch on and bite and often draw blood thanks to their large size.

This species however is doing it’s part to restore the love… They feed exclusively on flowers, drinking nectar instead of blood, and with the incredible eyes and yellow body colouration, they are easy to appreciate!

Maybe there’s something to this vegetarian thing after all…

Flower feeding march fly

Flower feeding march fly

Burleigh sunrise

Flower feeding march fly (Scaptia auriflua)
Canon 5D, Full flash, MPE-65 @ 3.0x, 1.2x and 1.5x


What’s green and yellow and purple?

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Answer: One of the best looking orb web spiders I’ve come across yet!

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re scanning the leaves of a tree or bush and a flash of colour catches your eye? Then comes that brief instant of excitement as you quickly look back to see what has tugged on the edges of your vision.

All too often this sequence seems to end with either an ugly splotch of nothing on a leaf or one of the very common residents of my area (such as plain brown acacia beetles… argh, they’re everywhere! ). But just occasionally, when you glance back, you realise that you are seeing something for the very first time.

* Click the images below to view larger versions*

Araneus circulissparsus

Araneus circulissparsus
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 2.7x, Full flash

The typical orb webs spiders I am use to seeing are large and shaggy, dark in colouration and all legs. So when I spotted this small Araneus circulissparsus, I was very happy firstly to see a new species, but also just to see something different. The fact that this small specimen is also a little stunner (in my very subjective opinion) is an added treat!

Araneus circulissparsus

Araneus circulissparsus
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 3.7x, Full flash

Small is actually quite an apt description of this species. At approximately 4mm from head to tail, it would have been all too easy to miss this one completely, and I may have done just that if it wasn’t for the beautiful colouration on the body. Luckily thought, that initial glimmer of colour was enough to register and send me looking more closely. It certainly helps to prove the point that vigilance is one of your best tools when looking for subjects!

Feeling crabby

October 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Regardless of whether spiders are something you love or something you hate, I would hope that most people would find at least something intriguing about them if they were to view them with an open mind.

When it comes to hiding and hunting, the Thomisidae family are right up there for me. While I usually only come across a few species in my shooting areas, they always amaze me with their camouflage and hunting techniques.

Recently, I was lucky enough to run across one of the less common species in my area… Runcinia acuminata or Long crab spider.

* Click the images below to view larger versions*

Long crab spider

Long crab spider (Runcinia acuminata)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 2.0x, Fill flash

The long crab spider is classed as common but this is only the second time I have found this species in the last two years and the first time in my new shooting area. Sitting hidden amidst a grass seed head, this particular spider was holding the trademark long front legs in the customary outstretched position.

Long crab spider

Long crab spider (Runcinia acuminata)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 3.7x, Fill flash

The reach that can be obtained by the front legs of this species is quite amazing, with the front leg length being over twice the entire body length. Given that this species is already called the “Long” crab spider, that’s really saying something!

Long crab spider

Long crab spider (Runcinia acuminata)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 5.0x, Full flash

One of the things I love most about crab spiders is the broad, flat facial shape which lends something of a fierce look to them in my opinion. While they may be master ambush hunters, shooting this species, as with most crab spiders, tends to be enjoyable as they usually sit still in their impressive defensive pose.

All in all, I was very pleased to come across this little fella and grab a few decent shots. It’s also nice to know they are roaming around my new shooting area as it will hopefully lead to a few more encounters!

Revealing an identity

October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

After what proved to be a fruitless search on my part in a previous post (Can you ID this one? – 25th September), I was very pleased to be given a lead by a fellow poster on the FM macro forums.

Tree hopper

Now identified as a Small acacia stink bug (Eufroggattia tuberculata)

Harold was able to point me in the direction or a shield bug, which thankfully was 100% correct. From there it took only a few minutes to track this species down to Eufroggattia tuberculata. 

Of course the head shape should have been a good indicator, but given the tiny size and high level of texturing (in contrast to other species of shield bugs I see), i was completely clueless. Funny how you can’t see the trees sometimes… 🙂

After a bit more looking, I haven’t been able to find much info on this little fella. While he may have given up his ID, he at least retains some of his mystery!

Anyway, another big thanks to Harold for the lead. Cheers!

State of play

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve managed any shooting and in that time we have finally had some decent rains. Many of my shooting areas were in serious need of water with brown rather than green becoming the dominant colour as grasses and leaves died off.

I awoke to a beautiful early morning and headed out to check my favourite spot. Even from where I park my car I could see the change in colours and sense a new freshness to the area. Gone are the brown hues and crunchy grasses, replaced by vibrant new growth and healthier looking foliage.

But the most pleasing aspect of the morning was the increase in insect life! Leaf beetles and common spider species are now abundant and in a great sign of things to come, I spotted many firsts for the season. Longhorns, solider flies, weevils, treehoppers and march flies amongst others are starting to appear but I was most excited by my first view of a Lantern fly. Unfortunately, the encounter resulted in zero shots (I didn’t get within 3 feet before it spooked!) but it’s nice to even witness one of these creatures in nature.

All in all, it was a pleasant morning which started with a lycid beetle and ended with a stunning flower feeding march fly and a full memory card. Now to go about removing all those dust spots from the images… *sigh*.

I guess I’ll have to just settle for posting one image now to tide over until I get to the rest!

* Click the image below to view a larger version*

Flower feeding march fly

Flower feeding march fly (Scaptia auriflua)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 3.0x, Full flash

Can you ID this one?

September 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

With the onset of spring, even given my limited time out shooting at the moment it is clear that a lot of different species are starting to show up.

One of the species that I am now seeing quite regularly loves hiding in amongst the various wattle flowers around at the moment, often backed hard up into the V made between a small branch and a leaf stem.

* Please note: Images can be clicked to view larger *

Tree hopper

Can you ID this species?
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 2.7x, Full flash

My first thoughts when taking these shots, given the overall body shape and location, was a tree hopper of some sort. Looking at it now though, the head shape looks wrong and thinking back, I have never seen one these “hop”.


Tree hopper

Can you ID this species?
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 4x, Full flash

The species is quite small… between 4 and 5 mm body length are the largest I have seen, and appear fairly common in this particular spot. The entire body is highly textured and the general demeanour is very placid. They will slip around to the other side of the branch when disturbed before slowly moving along the branch to get out of the way.

Maybe this one is the insect equivalent of the platypus… tree hopper body with chafer beetle shaped face and the scaley hide of a weevil! 🙂

I’d really like an ID on this species, so if you can help, please let me know!

Little miss common

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

After the pink flower spiders and common lynx, the small garden jumper (Opisthoncus parcedentatus) is the next most common spider I run across when out shooting. 

In the high stakes world of the beauty pageant, “little miss common” comes in somewhere in the middle of the pack purely on looks, but where she really excels is in the personality department. She is very friendly and is unabashed about posing for a few shots, often looking straight down the barrel of the lens, most likely taking the time to check herself in the reflection.

* Please note: Images can be clicked to view larger *


Garden jumping spider (Opisthoncus parcedentatus)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 2x, Full flash

While “little miss common” has those lovely big eyes to help win over the crowd, some say her best angle is actually from back on and she’s not above using her every advantage to ensure she’s remembered.

Garden Jumping Spider

Garden jumping spider (Opisthoncus parcedentatus)
Canon 5D, MPE-65 @ 1.6x, Full flash

While she may not be as showy as some, “little miss common” really is the full package. She’s easy on the eye with a very pleasant demeanour and is good at providing for the family. If only someone would speak to her about her choice of ingredients in the kitchen….

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