Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's good news week...

A Lacewing

Good news indeed! We have been blessed with a whole week of great spring weather. Now for any of my friends who live outside of the U.K. I guess that sounds laughable, but for us here in 'sunny' England, it's a major event.

It's meant that my beloved invertebrates have decided that they too would shrug off their winter quiescence and are daily becoming more active and visible.

The lacewing pictured above took little effort on my part to hunt down, it was settled inside our garden shed. Although I went to the shed to get the mower for an early lawn-trim, that had to be postponed whilst I took advantage of my find and took a few shots.

This particular shot was taken using my 100mm macro plus around 100mm of extension tube to get nice and close and get some detail on those wonderful eyes.

Who would have thought that such a beautiful and delicate insect like this hides a less than beautiful secret?
The lacewing themselves are not the culprits but their larvae. They hold none of the beauty of the adult and have totally different habits.

A Lacewing larva

Lacewing larvae are also known as aphid lions. They are tiny upon emerging from the egg, but grow to 3/8 of an inch long.
Lacewing larvae (and if you are squeamish, I suggest skipping this part) voraciously attack their prey by seizing them with large, sucking jaws and inject a paralyzing venom. The hollow jaws then draw out the body fluids of the pest. Of all  predators, the lacewing is the most voracious

Bad enough huh? 

Not finished yet...once these killers have devoured their prey, they then hoist the remains of the meal up onto their backs to use as camouflage from their own predators.
This habit has also given rise to another name of 'Trash Bugs'

Enough violence! The other side of spring is much nicer to contemplate. This is L♥ve.
It's hard to feel anything less than voyeuristic  right now, every species, every individual seems to have just one thing on it's collective mind. Lurve!

Common Toads

One thing I have noticed in nature is that the females are almost always larger than males...Hmmm! 

Guess I'll move on...

During my walk around local woodland yesterday, each time I stopped and knelt down to photograph a bug or insect the ground itself seemed to be moving/alive. Wood ants where everywhere and in huge numbers too. Sometimes in soldier-like columns, more often than not, huge, busy swarms, rivers of ants.
Tiny they may be but they lack nothing in terms of relative strength. Taking a few minutes out to observe just the ants, revealed that they were carrying all manner of foliage back to the nest, as well as a number of meals that seemed to trouble them little, be they equal in size or dwarfing the little ant that dragged them along.

A Wood Ant

Lizards are not something that I come across too often but are always a welcome sight. Close-up they are amazing looking reptiles with stunning markings.
Common lizards can both lay eggs and give birth to live young. They lay eggs in warm climates, and bear live young in cold ones.

Common lizards are sun-loving animals and frequently bask in the sunshine, especially in the Spring or Autumn.

Occasionally animals will bask out in the open on bare ground but more often a lizard will use a log pile or a pile of debris, an easy escaper route will always be present.

Lizards are extremely alert and active and often missed as a result. Like other reptiles, these lizards hibernate, in their case this is usually from October to early April.
Hibernation sites include underground burrows, and cracks and crevices in rocks or log piles.
As a defence against predators a lizard can shed it's tail which will then twitch on the ground all by itself-potentially as a distraction for the predator.
The lizard will re-grow its tail though there will always be a scar and the new tail is often shorter.

A Common Lizard

And so spring continues apace here in my little corner of Kent U.K. More opportunities each day that provides the right weather conditions, and thankfully those have been plentiful through March this year.

I'm really looking forward to next moth (whilst at the same time enjoying this). April will bring a fresh flush of insects and bugs for sure and I'm equally sure that, as long as I remain fit enough, I'll be there waiting with my trusty camera.

Until the next time then...


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