Late one afternoon, this past July, I went for a walk in the garden to see if there was anything interesting creeping, crawling or flying around. To my delight I discovered that the Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) was literally crawling with bright yellow-orange ladybugs. I quickly counted 14 on only a few stems. The typical red ladybugs aren’t rare in my garden, but this was the first time I’d seen specimens of this colour, and it was surprising to see so many of them together on one plant. I promptly trotted into the house to grab my camera. Unfortunately, I was distracted by the kids and it took me more than 30 minutes to get back. To my dismay, in that short period of time most of the ladybugs had disappeared! A thorough search of the Joe-Pye weed produced only one specimen to photograph, and it wasn’t particularly cooperative. I got a few photos before it buzzed away and none of them were very good. There was a bit of a breeze that evening so the Joe-Pye weed was moving enough that I had trouble catching just the right composition and focus.
That was ladybug disappointment number 1.
So I was really pleased one day in August when I was wandering around Deas Island Park and came upon another one of these yellow-orange ladybugs. Once again I only took a few photos, but this time I was happy with what I got. The photo above is the best of the lot. The picture below offers a view of the critter from the side, although it isn’t good of a photo. As you can see, photographing shiny semi-spherical objects with a flash results in some pretty strong reflections. In this case the reflection is in the shape of a donut because I was using a ring flash.
Once I’d edited the pictures, it was time to identify what species of ladybug it was. Given the fact that I had rarely seen ladybugs of that colour, I thought maybe I had photographed an unusual or maybe even rare species. However, it turns out that it was the same species of as the common red ladybugs in my garden: Harmonia axyridis commonly known as the multicoloured Asian lady beetle. The keyword here being multicoloured…Apparently this species ranges in colour from yellow-orange to red to black, with or without spots.
That was ladybug disappointment number 2.
Oh well. The good thing is that I now know more about ladybugs than I did before; and maybe I didn’t photograph some rare or unusual species, but I did manage to get a pretty cute little photo.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F16 @ 1/60 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (1/2 power)