Nature photography is full of serendipitous moments. There are those times when you are quite delighted with what you have found, are happily photographing and then nature provides the “fries with that” moment, the perfect add on.
This has happened to me on several occasions and today was another of those days. I was photographing a Pied Lacewing (Porismus strigatus) that a friend had spotted on a Grasstree leaf. That is if Grasstrees can be said to have leaves, for the leaves are hard, four sided, grass like, spikes.
Pied Lacewings are members of the ant lion family whose larvae are well known for their conical traps usually found in sandy soil. My “fries moment” came when I had already taken several photographs of the lacewing and mentioned to my friend that it seemed to be biting the grasstree leaf. I was experimenting with a new and very cheap version of the MYN lighting system (cardboard box with white paper diffuser) and was changing it when I noticed a small bubble of liquid forming where the lacewing was biting the leaf. The bubble steadily grew until it started to engulf the face of the lacewing. The lacewing then pulled its face back, stretching the bubble of sap until the bubble divided into two. Half of the bubble sprang back into a circular shape on the leaf and the other half adhered to the lacewing’s face, or more correctly its mouth parts. It then consumed it’s half of the bubble. This must have satisfied its hunger as it showed no further interest in the bubble remaining on the leaf.
The image of grass trees that I have included does not really show the nature of the leaves or refer to any moment of serendipity but is included to give an idea of this strange antipodean plant. The trees in this image have just recovered from the passage of a major bushfire. The picture was taken in spring 2006. The fire had passed through the area in January. Six years later the grass trees can scarcely be seen for all the general regrowth. (I am still working out how to illuminate a big enough background for an outdoor studio shot of a grass tree.)
by MYN contributor John Tiddy, Victoria, Australia