The close-up photographs of insects from
Prof Bill Amos of the Department of Zoology have given us a wonderful view we don’t usually see of the natural world. Scroll down for the latest batch from his insect photo diary. These beasties are beautiful with fascinating stories too – from wasp mimics to mayflies to an aphid giving birth on camera.
The wasp beetle, Clytus arietis. I have never seen this species before and it is a real stunner. When you see it you do immediately think ‘wasp’, both because of its colour-pattern and because it moves in just the fast but jerky way a wasp does when foraging. I feel lucky to have found one and got close. The southern hawker dragonfly. This is the first ‘proper’ dragonfly I have seen this year and it chose a very cold day to emerge, so was reluctant to move, allowing me to get very close. Both larvae and adults are voracious hunters. A colony of aphids managing to feed despite having chosen the very hairy stem of pink campion. I include this photo because I accidentally captured one of them giving birth! One of my favourite hoverflies, Xylota segnis. This one does a very good impersonation of some kind of wasp and you’d have to be knowledgeable and a bit brave to pick it up! Another hoverfly! I think this is Criorhina berberina, one a several rather similar bumble bee mimics, but I did not get a good enough look to be sure. This one is exceptional in its trickery until it flies, when it is just a bit too fast and direct compared with the more cumbersome bees. One of the larger mayflies, I think this one is Ephemera danica, the green drake mayfly. Rather magnificent in its own way. Not yet out in large numbers, a few were dancing over the river while, on a very cold day, a few more were clinging to vegetation like this one. The large red damselfly. Over the last few days they have gone from absent to quite a lot. In one spot I could see at least six, one of which caught an unfortunate caddis fly which it then set about eating. The cast skin of a banded damoiselle damselfly, Calopteryx splendens. The adult was drying his wings nearby and will appear in future posts. The contrast between this strange skeletoid object and the irridescent blue-green beauty of adult that emerged could not be more striking! About a week ago I saw and female orange tip butterfly and, looking where she had been sitting, found an egg. Returning every couple of days, I now find what hatched, a tiny caterpillar. This one is almost invisibly small and, clinging to its hedge mustard foodplant stem I would never have spotted it unless I knew where the egg had been laid. An extraordinary caddis fly, one of several groups of insects whose larvae live in water. Caddis larvae are renowned for building protective tube-shaped homes made of bits of debris. This one is Mystacides azurea and looks like something out of Star Wars with its black wings, red eyes and remarkable long antennae. Photographs (c) Prof Bill Amos
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