Macro Photography Outings – September 2015

The annual haze crisis created by illegal agricultural fires due to slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia, has adversely affected the lives of Singaporean since 8 September where it crossed the unhealthy air quality of above 100 PSI.  On 24 September, PSI was at a hazardous level of 361.  The general advice to the public is to reduce all kinds of outdoor activities including photography.  I visited only Chestnut Nature Trail & Zhenghua Forest when PSI was dropped to a moderate level of below 100.

On 12 September, I led an macro photography outing of 12 participants to Chestnut Nature Trail. About 20 metres into the trail, there was a dead tree log with some wild mushrooms growing on it.   These same mushrooms were already spotted a week ago when I was here to recce this site.  Wild mushrooms usually rot within days but this batch certainly lived longer than expected.  Could you spot an insect in one of the mushrooms?

(Wild mushrooms)

(Wild mushrooms)

Chestnut Nature Trail is a popular place for cyclists too. We often heard them shouting “bike! bike!” as they rode pass us. Quite dangerous if we were to shoot along this shared walking / cycling path. Hence, we chose to shoot at a green vegetation some 250 metres from the meeting point.

(Photographers in action)

(Photographers in action)

We spent the earlier part of the morning on the right hand side of the vegetation where there were a few variety of wild flowers and fruits attracting many common bugs and insects.

site action

The first subject that caught my attention was a female Nannophya pygmaea. This gorgeous dragonfly is the smallest species in Singapore of approximately 15mm long and a wingspan of only about 20mm.

(female

(Pygmy dragonfly,female)

We spotted many katydids and its nymph of various sizes and colours. These two are relatively fatter of about 30 mm long.

(Two fatter katydids)

(Two fatter katydids)

Giant Asian Mantises (Hierodula) were quite easy to find too.

(Giant Praying Mantis)

(Giant Praying Mantis)

When it was getting hotter at about 9.30 am, we moved on to the left side of the nature trail where tall trees provided some shades for us.

IMG_9719

Lying lowly on the shrubby vegetation was a big-belly St. Andrew’s Cross spider. These spiders get their name for the way their hold their eight legs in pairs to form an X shape. Besides their standard orb-web, they build additional white opaque zig zag lines on their webs, called stabilimentum. The zigzag lines of their webs match their leg positions, which lead some people to suggest that this helps give the appearance of longer legs.

St Andrew Cross Spider

Not too far away, there was a tiny crab spider quietly enjoying an ant as breakfast.

(Crab spider vs ant)

(Crab spider vs ant)

Other subjects spotted include a pair of mating leaf beetles, brown grasshopper, damselfly, metallic green tiger beetle, etc.

(Brown grasshopper, leaf beetles, damselfly, tiger beetle)

(Brown grasshopper, leaf beetles, damselfly, tiger beetle)

A week later, I visited my favourite macro site at Zhenghua Forest. The stars of the trip had to be the leaf-footed bugs.  Adults lay barrel-shaped eggs in a single row along the underside of leave. The nymphs that hatch bear a passing resemblance to the adults.

(Newly-hatched leaf-footed bugs)

(Newly-hatched leaf-footed bugs)

It is not uncommon to see a group of leaf-footed baby bugs but this was my first time seeing them with their newly hatched egg shells nearby. A lovely sight where, if you look carefully, they formed an interesting pyramid shape.

I found a smaller group of 8 leaf-footed bugs earlier but with a bigger brother nearby giving a false impression that it was babies sitting its younger siblings.

(The babies-sitter)

(The babies-sitter)

Leaf-footed bugs go through five moults resulting in five instars before becoming an adult.  The nymphs moult as they grow, looking more like an adult each time.   They often vary in coloration between moults.  Below is a freshly moulted individual where it has an attractive mixture of purplish orange in colour.  My guess is that it is into its 2nd instar stage.

(A fleshly moulted bug)

(A fleshly moulted bug)

There was another moulted bug but looks likely to be in the final stage where its colour was already darken.

IMG_3965

With that, I end my report and look forward to more outings in October 2015.

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