Sunday, 27 February 2011

Waking up

I came across this snail on Friday, the first active snail of the year. It was covered on cobwebs; a fragment of its epiphragm - a sturdy yellowish membrane made up of layers of mucus that the snail produces to close their shell opening during their winter dormancy period - still attached to its shell. I am not sure if this snail emerged spontaneously, as I am doing a lot of pruning in the garden these days, but even if I disturbed, it moved all the way down the wall before settling again.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

An Adonis ladybird

A bright, mild afternoon brings all the ladybirds out from their hibernation sites. I count over 30 7-spots stirring out from little crevices between leaves or sunbating on fences and trunks. An unusual looking ladybird calls my attention, it's smaller and less round than the 7 spots, with relatively large spots. I bring it to the white bowl to photograph. It is an Adonis ladybird (Hippodamia variegata), an aphid eater that seems to have increased in frequency in recent years, but it is still not a common find.

Ladybird Identification
An ID guide of 23 species of British Ladybirds.

NBN records of Adonis ladybird.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Breakfast bowl spider

I love bug photos on a white background. Macroinstantes, Myrmecos and The Bug Whisperer have great examples. I do prefer bug photos in their environment, but the white background reveals very subtle features that can help with ID, or allows shots of flighty bugs that rarely stay still. Being a minimalist, amateur photographer I have tried the technique on its simplest form, by placing the subject on a white, relatively shallow breakfast bowl. The bowl surface is slippery enough and enhances the light. This was my first take with Amaurobius (probably similis, judging by its size): a very handsome, fierce looking female I found wandering on my kitchen floor a few days ago.