Macro Photography Outings – February 2015

Despite the warm and dry weather coupled with the Chinese New Year long holiday in February, I still ventured out for my weekly macro outings as usual. There were hardly any dew in the early morning and it got fairly windy after 9.00 am onwards which was not the best condition for macro photography. Nevertheless, I am happy to have captured some interesting images to share here.

(1) Zhenghua Forest

Zhenghua Forest is the best place to photograph Leaf-footed bugs. They get their name from the flattened tibia of the hind leg, which gives this segment a leaf-like appearance. The adult of this species can grow up to about 30mm long. The very young ones can be smaller than 10 mm in size and they usually stay close together as seen in the image below. My guess is that this helps to make them look bigger from afar to scare away potential predators.

IMG_2339

(1 Feb 2015 – Togetherness)

Here is a twin enjoying the morning sun:

(Twins)

(1 Feb 2015 – Twin)

Another twin strolling along the leave with a moulted exoskeleton of an adult underneath.

(7 Feb 2015 - Leaf-footed bug nymphs)

(7 Feb 2015 – Leaf-footed bug nymphs)

Not too far away, a large uncommon katydid was spotted on a plant. I like the way it moved, very slowly and elegantly. It had interesting looking eyes which I wanted to have a close-up shot but it was too shy and leaped away.

(A large katydid)

(1 Feb 2015 – A large katydid)

A surprise find was a common white crab spider having a large meal. A closer look revealed a tiny brown male crab spider just underneath the female’s abdomen. This is the mating position. Female crab spiders are known to eat the much smaller males once mating is finished. So in order to decrease the chances of being eaten, the males often choose to mate when the females are too preoccupied with its meals as in this case.

(Crab spider having a heavy meal)

(1 Feb 2015 – Crab spider having a heavy meal)

(2) NTU Hiking Trailing

It was almost a year ago since my last visit to NTU Hiking Trailing on 16 Feb 2014. Here are 2 images showing the site condition:

(NTU Hiking Trail)

(14 Feb 2015 – NTU Hiking Trail)

The first subject that I found was a common orange assassin bug. They are usually quite sensitive to human and difficult to get close. On this occasion, I was lucky that it stayed obediently under the cover of a leaf looking curiously at me.

(14 Feb 2015 - Assassin Bug)

(14 Feb 2015 – Assassin Bug)

The next insect that greeted me was a planthopper which sit motionlessly on a leave. The name comes from their resemblance to leaves and other plants of their environment and from the fact that they often “hop” for quick transportation in a similar way to that of grasshoppers. However, planthoppers generally walk very slowly so as not to attract attention. It didn’t move at all during the 10 minutes period that I was shooting it.

(14 Feb 2014 - Planthopper)

(14 Feb 2014 – Planthopper)

I am always fond of shooting jumping spider because of their attractive big forward-facing round eyes. Here is a little one of about 1 cm in size. Its lightning fast attack gave this equally tiny long-horned hopper no chance to escape. A truly formidable predator!

(14 Feb 2015 - Jumping spider with hopper as prey)

(14 Feb 2015 – Jumping spider with hopper as prey)

Crab spider with prey used to be a common sight but it has become quite rare in the last few years. So, I was glad to find a white crab spider with a field cockroach as prey here. The white flowers Mile-a-minute (Mikania micrantha) is a perfect camouflage for this crab spider species. This is already my 3rd encounter (Zhenghua Forest, Clementi Woods & NTU Hiking Trail) of such scene in the past 2 months.

(14 Feb 2015 - Crab spider with field cockroach)

(14 Feb 2015 – Crab spider with field cockroach)

(3) Mandai Forest

The flowers of Spanish Needle, scientifically known as Bidens Pilosa, were in full bloom around Mandai forest. These are popular hiding spots for crab spiders to ambush their preys.

(21 Feb 2015 - Two different species of sit-and-wait crab spiders)

(21 Feb 2015 – Two different species of sit-and-wait crab spiders)

Most jumping spiders are active during the day and behave like eight-eyed leopards, stalking and pouncing on victims. Here is one that was enjoying its breakfast when I spotted it.

(21 Feb 2015 - Juming spider having breakfast)

(21 Feb 2015 – Juming spider having breakfast)

Although lynx spiders are very common in Singapore, images of a mother with its miniature babies are rarely seen. We were fortunate to find one happy family here, my only 2nd sighting so far.

(21 Feb 2015 - Lynx spider guarding its babies)

(21 Feb 2015 – Lynx spider guarding its babies)

Beside spiders, there were plentiful of Gram Blue, a small butterfly species.

(21 Feb 2015 - Gram Blue)

(21 Feb 2015 – Gram Blue)

Allan found a strange bug of about 2 cm long. It looks very much like an ant but with 2 antennas. I hope someone can help us to ID this insect.

(21 Feb 2015 - an unknown insect, ID please)

(21 Feb 2015 – an unknown insect, ID please)

(4) Rifle Range Nature Trail

Although this was the fourth day of Chinese New Year, there were many people enjoying their morning walk here. Not a particularly good day for macro shooting as I had only 2 images to share. This is a jumping spider on an interesting backlit leaf.

(22 Feb 2015 - Jumping spider on backlit leaf)

(22 Feb 2015 – Jumping spider on backlit leaf)

An interesting find was an uncommon assassin bug with a stink bug as prey found near the wetland. It was very windy and this was the best I could manage.

(22 Feb 2015 - Assassin bug with prey)

(22 Feb 2015 – Assassin bug with prey)

(5) Mandai Green

My last visit to Mandai Green was more than 2 years ago. It used to be a good macro site with a wide variety of insects such as dragonflies, spiders, butterflies, ladybird, hoppers, caterpillars, changeable lizard, squash bugs, etc. However, it was not the case now. Although the place didn’t change really much, Kyaw Htay and I had a hard time finding subjects to photograph. Beside some common butterflies, I could only spot katydids and hoppers. Hope this was due to the dry weather rather than anything else. It was a disappointing outing but I was contented to get this shot, one of my favourite images taken this month.

(28 Feb 2015 - Long-horned hopper cleaning its feelers)

(28 Feb 2015 – Long-horned hopper cleaning its feelers)

Long-horned hopper has super long feelers which I had difficulty getting them into the frame. I chose to cut off one of the them to reduce negative space. I like this image because the translucent green hopper works very well with the pink wild flowers. The curve of the plant also goes nicely with the shape of the insect. And the excellent natural backlighting makes it a delightful image. Here is a similar shot in dark background which I think it works too.

(28 Feb 2015 - Long-horned hopper)

(28 Feb 2015 – Long-horned hopper)

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4 thoughts on “Macro Photography Outings – February 2015

  1. First, I should tell you how much I enjoy your blog posts as I’m not sure I have before. Living in another part of the world (the very southwest corner of Canada with its mild clime), I really love learning about and seeing photos of insects and spiders from areas that are exotic to me.

    I’ll start from the end of your post and work my way up. Is the grasshopper very tiny or is the flower large. I think the former but I’ll wait for your reply. Where it’s cleaning its antenna, it’s interesting to see its dark food waste curled in its hind gut. It’s what makes me think it’s a very small and a 1st or 2nd stage nymph, that it looks almost translucent still. Both photos are very nice but I prefer the dark green background to the black – just more pleasing looking.

    Did you notice the tiny fly on the assassin bug’s meal. Perhaps hoping to get a bit to eat too? Glad to see some jumping spider photos. Jumpers are my all-time favorite and I never tire of seeing them. We don’t seem to haveany in my neighbourhood. Almost all are zebra jumpers (Salticus scenicus) and very friendly.

    Your unknown insect is a bug of some kind as can be seen by its long mouthpart folded underneath along its abdomen. Other than that, I’m clueless knowing what it is as most of our species aren’t the same. The top of its abdomen looks very strange – like its exoskeleton was split and dried. ???

    To me, spiders are such great mothers, tending their egg sacs and protecting it’s babies or carrying them about on its back. I like your lynx spider and babies!

    Got a chuckle our of the two crab spiders waiting for their meal. The spider on the left looks like it’s trying to imitate ancsuirplane with its wings sticking out horizontally. I’m not so sure the collection of leaf-footed nymphs is to look larger and potentially scare off predators. They’re probably hoping “eat my brother, not me”. Thanks for your photos and commentary. You might not hear from me for ages but I look forward to your posts when they come.

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