Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Distracted by a Tiny Fly

Long-legged  Fly -- I least I think it is.  

It is bug season.  I love bug season!  Mostly because I live in a place where mosquitoes and no-seems-ums are so few we haven’t bothered to replace a screen or two that fell off years ago.  Most of our bugs are fascinating; not a nuisance. 

Several years about, 2005 I think, we realized we could take digital photos of bugs with our cameras.  I’ve posted several buggy blog posts as a result.  Now for another.  

Today I just intended to put some vegetable scraps on my compost pile, but that took me within feet of our blackberry clump.  Yesterday and the day before I spent time photographing bugs on blackberries in somewhat different habitats.  I couldn’t help but check to see who was visiting my blackberries.  I meant it as a quick peek, but immediately a tiny iridescent fly caught my eye.  How beautiful!  It is only about a quarter of an inch long, too small for me to see well; but digital cameras are wonderful.  I can blow up a photo.  I ran to get the camera.  

Once I was out there, a bank of blackberry blossoms in front of me, I was hooked.  Hmmmmmm.  The bumble bee I photographed day before yesterday was packing grey saddlebags of pollen on its back legs. Some of my bumble bees have bright orange pollen on their legs, some have cream, one honeybee had grey.  That indicates the bees in my yard have a variety of flowers to pick from right now.  Just because they are on the blackberries now, doesn’t mean they were ten minutes ago.  My yard has a handfull of choices and the neighborhood has even more.  

I also have a greater variety of bumble species than the two other places.  I soon counted four species on my bushes:  One mostly yellow; one all black except for a grey face; one with yellow, orange and black; and the commonest was black with a yellow face and one yellow band on its abdomen.  Friday’s location was a big clump of blackberries growing next to Plat I Reservoir -- two species bumblebees and a small number of other insects.  Saturday’s location was a modest clump growing near Slater Creek and mostly surrounded by forest -- also two species of bumble bees.  

Getting a good shot of the tiny fly was turning out to be harder than I expected, especially since I kept finding other treasures.  I found two other species of tiny flies, three species of wasps, a crane fly, a long-horned beetle, some small bees, lots of honey bees, ‘normal’ flies, a thin orange ‘thing’ that looked like a flying stick with horns, and a tiny crab spider.  

I think these tiny flies are species of 'fruit flies' or 'picture winged flies.'  There are so many species that I can only find a few in my books.  Insects are such a challenge.  There are thousands of species.  Often I have to content myself with just enjoying them, and not succeeding in identifying them.  

The crab spider put on quite a show for me.  I spotted it hunting from the top of a blackberry blossom -- probably hoping to catch one of those tiny flies in its long front arm.  When hunting the crab spider sits motionless with its two pairs of extra long front arms held out and waiting to grab. He uses his shorter, back pairs of legs to hang onto his hunting perch.  

I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of him in full 'thread-throwing' position, but this will give you an idea of what was about to happen.

Suddenly he switched position:  he put his head down, abdomen straight up into the air and stood on the tippy toes of his four long legs!

A moment later I realized what that was all about.  He suddenly dropped back down onto all eight legs, turned around, and scampered away on the virtually invisible thread he had just floated in the air.  His line took him to another blackberry branch about 18 inches away.  

The spider hunted again for a few minutes before he decided to move again to a new spot.  This time I knew what to expect when his abdomen tipped up into the air.  Away floated the invisible thread, downwind to another branch.  Off he scrambled on his line and soon disappeared into a thicker tangle of blackberry where I couldn’t keep track of him.  


  1. Brilliant macro shots! Wonderful to see insects so close and so detailed.

    An English Girl Rambles

  2. Heh...black berries close to your compost pile. Living out there, I'd guess that soon you will be only a step or two out the back door to be near your blackberries...or just lift that window without the screen. ;o)

    Lovely insects...and nice detective work on the crab spider.

  3. Great photos and good stories, too. Ahh, to take the time to watch what's right under our noses!

  4. wow.. what a camera. Really brings out the colors the bugs are.

  5. fantastic pictures and observations.

  6. Great photos! Bugs are so fascinating