A week ago or so I was on Deas Island looking for bugs to photograph and I ended-up walking through a patch of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius)—an all too common invasive species of plant. The plants were growing close together and I had to push through them. When I was through I discovered that I had picked-up numerous bright green aphids scattered around on my shirt (which luckily was a light colour).
It occurred to me later that those aphids were just the right size to feed to the little Chinese mantids that I have been rearing (see Chinese mantis baby pictures). So I dutifully went back the next day to collect a couple dozen. At first I tried using a sweep net, but I ended up collecting too many other insects and spiders (along with bits of leaves and other detritus). On the other hand, walking back and forth through the broom worked extremely well: I would just crash through the plants, pick off the aphids, and repeat. It was really rather fun, although I’m sure it must have looked just a bit odd.
The mantids eagerly ate the lion’s share of the aphids (mantids share actually). But I reserved a few to photograph. Although they were pretty big as far as aphids go, they were still tiny insects and much too small to photograph with my 60mm macro lens. So I used the El Nikkor enlarger lens and telescopic extension tube assembly that I described in this post: Maple syrup in the garden of good and weevils.
I placed the aphids on a nasturtium leaf both as a suitable background, but also because I know from experience how (unfortunately) popular nasturtiums are with aphids. Sure enough, a couple of the insects settled down to feed by piercing the leaf with their proboscises.
Depth of field at this magnification is extremely shallow, and I had trouble getting just the right angle to get the eyes and proboscis in focus. But I have to say, I am delighted with these images…especially the one at the top of the page.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Lens: Nikkor 50mm F2.8 enlarger lens
Settings: manual exposure (F8 @ 1/200 sec)
Lighting: Olympus FL-36 flash (Full power)