Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Alien Invaders!...

They hide amongst us, still, and unnoticed...

Insidiously multiplying, their alien pods spreading their seed. Soon the brook is obscured by their masses, obliterating all other plants in their way.

The honeybees tend their blooms, unaware of their part in this alien invasion. The Himalayan Balsam seducing them with its pretty pretty flowers. Pollen on the bees back stains them white with the mark of the collaborator.

The snails are on our side, eating as much as they can, but can so few make a difference against so many?

How could the other plants compete against such a weapon of mass dispersion? Even at x8 slower the explosive pods burst in the blink of an eye.

Slowed x16, their ballistic power is apparent, with a range of several metres.

Alien technology developed over millenniums have overpowered the innocent inhabitants of the humble British waterways. (slowed x33)

The river banks are littered with the shrapnel of this silently raging war. "Your country(side) needs you"... Stop the alien invasion!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

'Come Fly with me...'

Judging from the front of my car, there's a distinct lack of insects this year. Normally the windscreen would be plastered with corpses after a high speed run. Maybe it was the harsh winter we had.

There are some exceptions to this lack of population. Aphids have done well, and also Hoverflies. (Scaeva Pyrastri)

I love these little guys. Lovely, harmless critters, that don't sting or bite, even though they pretend to be wasps and bees.

There's an incredible number of varieties, and identifying the subtle differences between them has proved difficult.

My favourite thing about them, are their flying skills. You can really appreciate the accuracy of their hovering with some high speed video shots...

Slowed down x8, their wings are still a blur.

Bumble bees are renowned for their fast wing beat (120-250 beats per second). I had to shoot this high speed video at 1000 frames per second (slowed x33) in order to capture the wing movement, and yet Hoverflies are even faster, with a wingbeat of 150-300 beats per second!

They are beautiful insects if given a second look.

Some pretend to be solitary wasps like this Episyrphus Balteatus. The giveaway is the way the hold their wings at rest. Hoverflies hold them straight out, while real wasps tuck them along their body. Wasps operate in a tight colony and need to move alongside others without clashing wings.

This Hoverfly is often called a Dronefly (Eristalis Tenax) because it mimics a drone Honey bee.

I think they look kind of cute closeup with their fluffy 'trunk'.

It is the season to go Hoverfly watching... coming to a flower near you!