So many things …


You know how it is. There are so many things to do, so many places to go, and so many blog posts you mean to write. The last is particularly true, and I’ve made a lot of notes, and then .. the ‘so many things to do’ and the ‘so many places to go’ went and got in the way.

I really want to start blogging properly again, but it seems I don’t have much time to craft the sort of posts I used to do, so for now, I’m going to be putting up brief snippets of this and that, starting with something I usually get into at this time of year; macro photography of wildlife.

The little creature up at the top is a tiny bee, less than a centimetre in length, which at first I thought was a wasp on account of its tiny waist. It’s called Hylaeus communis, which I’d never have known if it weren’t for the freely offered expertise of a Swedish guy called Göran Holmström, who belongs to the same ‘bee and wasp’ group as I do. Facebook can be a wonderful thing, when used wisely.

This next picture is one of our commonest hoverflies, and one of the most frequently photographed. I adore hoverflies, but these little guys annoy the hell out of me because when I’m trying to get a picture, they hover motionless about half a metre in front of me, poking their tongues out and taunting me, then when I slowly raise the camera to their level, they dart out of sight – only to return seconds later in a slightly different spot!

Episyrphus balteatus (also known as the Marmalade Fly) meet your public.


While I was out photographing bees and hoverflies a week or so ago, I noticed this day-flying moth on a daisy. It’s called ‘Mother Shipton’ because it has a little witch’s face on each wing.


Now, you all love ladybirds, right? Can’t get enough of them, I bet. Even people who hate ‘bugs’ and ‘creepy-crawlies’ like ladybirds – I mean, they’re not really beetles are they?1

How about this then?


That’s the larva of a Seven-Spot Ladybird, in the process of pupating. Only its mother could love it. Well, it’s mother and me, and lots of other insect fans, actually.

Okay, let’s finish with something cute. Here is a Mullein moth caterpillar eating my buddleia. Considering the number of them, and the size of them, it’s amazing there isn’t more damage, but in fact I can hardly see where they’ve been!


You don’t think that’s cute? Oh, well. Can’t please you all .. but try this.


That’s the Seven Spot Ladybird that the weird-looking larva you saw up there will one day turn into. Well, one like it, anyway!

If you’re interested in insects, no matter if you know very little, try joining one of the Facebook groups. The people there are lovely and willingly identify things for anyone who asks. I am a member of UK Hoverflies, Insects of Britain and Northern Europe, and UK Bees, Wasps and Ants.

1 Actually, yes. Yes, they are. They are absolutely 100% beetles.

9 thoughts on “So many things …

  1. nick 29th June 2015 / 9:47 pm

    The only bees I’ve seen in the garden recently are the standard variety (as far as I can judge). At least there are plenty of them despite all the stories of dying bees. What I did find in the garden a few days ago was a small and very wet frog. What it was doing in my garden I can’t imagine. There are no lakes or rivers hereabouts that would be its natural habitat.

    • Jay 29th June 2015 / 10:16 pm

      Hah! Well frogs are great travellers. I’m wondering if any of your neighbours were lawn-sprinkling? That certainly attracts them, and they could have come from a garden pond to frolic in it and then wandered in to yours.

      Up till this week there were NOT plenty of bees here. I was getting quite concerned .. maybe two or three on a particularly attractive plant. Most of them were bumblebees, with the very occasional solitary bee. Now I’m suddenly seeing a lot of honeybees – it’s quite reassuring.

  2. houndstooth 1st July 2015 / 3:50 am

    I would never have guessed that first one was a bee! Wow! You’ve gotten much more up close and personal with several of those little fellas than I would care to. lol Macro photography is something that I’ve always been curious about, but I’m not terribly good at. I admire the heck out of people who can do it so well!

    • Jay 1st July 2015 / 10:54 am

      Well, thank you! 🙂

      Getting up close and personal is not a problem with most things. I wouldn’t approach a wasp’s nest to photograph its residents as some do, but in fact these tiny solitary bees are not aggressive and even if they wanted to sting you they couldn’t penetrate your skin.

      I’ve taken macro photos of spiders that are known to bite if provoked. We don’t have any dangerous ones here, but some will bite in defence. But just like dogs, most insects tend to warn you first. If you are looking too closely at a bee, for instance, and it lifts a leg and waves at you, it’s not being friendly. It’s warning you to back off.

      The thing I’m most afraid of? Ticks!

  3. Valerie Daggatt 1st July 2015 / 11:34 am

    One of our bird nesting boxes was taken over by bees. It was right by the kitchen window and I didn’t fancy it at all. Hubby moved the house and the bees then settled in a hole in the ground. Rather them than me but each to his own!!! I must read up on bees, all I know about are those in hives.

    • Jay 1st July 2015 / 12:44 pm

      Probably Tree Bumblebees (B. hypnorum), Valerie. They do seem to favour bird boxes. I probably would see if it could be moved if it were near/on the house, because they seem to be the only territorial bumblebees. They will come at you if there is any vibration near their nest. On the other hand, the nest doesn’t last for long – only a few months – so if it were somewhere it was safe to ignore them, I’d let them be till they left.

  4. Secret Agent Woman 1st July 2015 / 2:53 pm

    Amazing shots. I had no idea ladybugs had a larval stage like that.

    • Jay 1st July 2015 / 5:27 pm

      Aren’t they amazing? Harlequin ladybird larvae are even weirder, being black, with orange spikes!

  5. Gel 3rd March 2016 / 12:54 pm

    Oh, dear Jay, I do hope my comment has not come through 3 times. I keep hitting some key on my computer that whisks me away from the box before I post. So, your photography skills are SUPER! Love these macro shots. I am also fascinated by such creatures. I like that you are still interested in a variety of life’s aspects.

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