Cricket on mums

2 10 2019

iPhone 8Plus, Camera+ 2 app in macro mode, Snapseed app border

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Crab spider on Columbine bloom

15 05 2018

Nikon D850, Nikkor 105mm micro, 1/100, f/18, ISO 500

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB White Spider 2

Trout lily

5 06 2015

I photographed this trout lily at Green Spring Gardens this morning after a light rain. The bloom is about 1″ in diameter. Look at the petal on the far right. About halfway up the edge of the petal, you’ll see a tiny bug. This little guy was so tiny, he was barely viewable when I looked away from my macro lens. He was probably about 3/16 of an inch long!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Trout Lily 1Little Nymph

Top ‘o the world

10 08 2014

Teeny tiny (barely 1/4 inch) unidentified insect on Pineapple Lily (Eucomis comosa); photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Teeny Tiny Bug

Pink tiger lily

28 07 2014

Unidentified insect inside a pink tiger lily; it looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Beetle Pink Lily

…7, 8, 9, 10. Ready or not, here I come!

18 06 2012

Michael P. and I must confess—we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus). They’re easy to spot (always found on any form of milkweed), stay pretty still for their photo ops and engage in myriad poses for us. At Green Spring Gardens this afternoon we found a plethora of them to photograph. In this shot, the top bug didn’t seem to know that the other bug was beneath the leaf (at least that’s what we surmised) because when he tried to go around the leaf, he seemed startled and pushed the bottom bug off!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


To see the world in a grain of sand*

5 06 2012

I am constantly amazed at how much life there is surrounding me—that something barely half the size of a sesame seed has such incredible detail that you can’t see without a macro lens. I was photographing Indian Pink blooms (Spigelia marilandica) at Green Spring Gardens last weekend and discovered this miniscule, yet-to-be-identified bug. I shortened and splayed out the legs of my tripod, plunked myself down in the dirt, then got settled in to examine all the angles I could photograph the slender two-inch-long tubular crimson blooms.

Stalking the miniscule
I saw this tiny white spec slowly moving along the edge of a stem and decided to follow it, moving in as close as my 105mm micro lens would allow. Magnification revealed all sorts of oddities in this little bug—a head like a spotted fish with big round eyes and a fuzzy coating, virtually no neck at all, a segmented thorax like a roly poly pill bug, followed by a cotton-candy-like burst of white fluff at the end of the body and crab-like freckled legs.


What in the world is it?
Brian, my photography mentor, said it could possibly be a larvae of a deer fly or horse fly, but without more photos with different angles, he couldn’t be sure. I looked online at larvae of various flies and don’t see anything that looks as odd as this little guy. He also said that it could be transitioning from larvae to adult stage, which makes it harder to identify.

When I moved toward it, it would hide behind the stem, so it clearly sensed my presence. To get it to move into the crook of the flower stem so I could photograph it unobstructed, I would wave my hand near it and it would move around the stem into view again. When I wasn’t looking at it through my lens, I was hard pressed to locate it—it was that small!

Learn something new every day
I learned a new word this morning, also courtesy of Brian. Entomologists have a word for unknown specs of stuff—frass. According to wikipedia, frass is the fine powdery material phytophagous (plant-eating) insects pass as waste after digesting plant parts. It causes plants to excrete chitinase due to high chitin levels, it is a natural bloom stimulant, and has high nutrient levels. Frass is known to have abundant amoeba, beneficial bacteria, and fungi content. Frass is a microbial inoculant, also known as a soil inoculant, that promotes plant health using beneficial microbes. It is a large nutrient contributor to the rainforest, and it can often be seen in leaf mines.

So, in the words of Martha Stewart: Frass…it’s a good thing!

What have I learned from this encounter?
The smallest, seemingly insignificant spec of dust or dirt may not just simply be “frass.” It just might be a live fuzzy-spotted, fish-headed, roly-poly-bodied, cotton-candy-tailed, crab-legged larvae-in-transition, making its teeny tiny way in this big old world. I also learned a new word—frass. F-r-a-s-s. Frass. And yes, I can use it in a sentence: Frass is a good thing.

Ah, my time behind the lens—never a dull moment!


* “To see the world in a grain of sand” is a line from William Blake’s poem, Auguries of Innocence. I found an enlightened explanation of the meaning of this line by an unknown author here, and wanted to share it with you:

Blake is never the easiest of poets to understand at the best of times, because he is the first by far who can justifiably lay claim to the title of symbolist poet, and as such is open to personal interpretation.

Here what he is, I think, saying is that one can find vast truths in the smallest of things—or to put it in fashionable literary terms, he’s dealing with the microcosmic as representative of the universal. So, knowledge of the whole world can be gained from examining its smallest constituent part, or later on, even such a small thing as a caged robin is an affront to both God and man—it’s a tiny thing but it’s symptomatic, and absolutely representative of the whole.

Not wanting to get too “Twilight Zone” here, but from the little I understand of today’s mathematics and physics, looking at Chaos Theory and the Mandelbrot set, Blake is indeed more literally right than he probably knew. The tiniest part of something does apparently indeed represent the entire construct, and the smallest thing can indeed have a huge effect—there’s allegedly a butterfly near Tokyo who with the flapping of its wings has a helluva lot to answer for 🙂


Ever wonder where “the butterfly effect” theory originated? Check this out here!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Carpenter bee on Blanket Flower

14 12 2011

Carpenter bee on Blanket Flower (Gaillardia grandiflora) ‘Oranges and Lemons’ cultivar

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Why I love macro photography

23 10 2011

This tiny (unidentified bug) is not even 1/8″ long—and with the naked eye, it just looked like a solid dark gray colored gnat. I could barely see it without using my macro lens, and certainly couldn’t see the graphic markings on its back and the milky blue coloration until I opened the raw file in Photoshop. Notice the two curved black arrows outlined in blue on its “shoulders.” To give you a sense of scale, the flower is less than 2″ in diameter. Shooting macro forces me to slow down and notice unexpected details in the tiniest living things. There’s a whole other world out there, folks!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Same day, 2008: Spider on Chrysanthemum

20 10 2011

This is one of my all-time favorite spider + flower shots, taken on October 20, 2008, at my favorite local photo haunt—Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA. With my Nikon D300 and Nikkor 105mm micro lens mounted on a tripod, I shot directly overhead (which puts the flower, spider and top of the bud on the same plane, focus-wise) and fairly wide open aperture-wise (which gives the flower that look of floating because of the out-of-focus background).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in my garden: Nippon Daisy

11 10 2011

Green Bottle Fly (Phaenicia sericata) on Nippon Daisy or Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. See more of my garden photography here.

The elusive Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis)

3 09 2011

I photographed this type of moth in my own garden years ago (here), and the image was what I call a “record shot,” just like this one is. A “record shot” won’t win any prizes—it is simply captured to record its existence and uniqueness, no matter the technical quality or stellar composition.

I wanted to share this shot anyway, since this creature is so elusive, very quick and hard to photograph. I photographed this Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis) frantically feasting on the blooms of a ‘Franz Schubert’ Phlox (Phlox paniculata) at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station in Spooner, Wisconsin.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pollen gathering + bonus bug

1 09 2011

I photographed this (unidentified) little bee (fly?) on an Aster bloom at Green Spring Gardens yesterday. It wasn’t until I opened the raw file in Photoshop that I saw the tiny white spider tucked into the petals. Love me some bonus bugs!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Green Stink Bug on Gomphrena globosa

1 09 2011

Green Stink Bug on Gomphrena globosa (Globe amaranth, Bachelor’s Buttons), photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Unidentified beetle on Japanese Anemone bloom

1 09 2011

I photographed this little bug while it was munching on fallen pollen “chips” from this Japanese Anemone flower in the Demonstration Garden of the Spooner Agricultural Research Station in Spooner, Wisconsin. I’ve made an attempt to identify it but haven’t been successful (yet).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

American Pelecinid Wasp (Pelecinus polyturator)

31 08 2011

I photographed this insect on the side of my friend Mary Ellen’s house in Minong, Wisconsin last week. My immediate thought was that it was some kind of wasp, but I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Good guess, though, since my hunch was confirmed with a visit to my favorite bug ID site, The perfectionist in me would loved to have photographed this creature on a leaf, of course.

Learn more about this insect (docile and harmless to humans; but to other bugs—not so much!) on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Field Station website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blue Chicory

12 07 2011

Blue Chicory
It has made its way, on wind
far into the city, and it nods there,
on street corners, in what July wind
it slips garner. Since childhood
I have loved it, it is so violet-blue,
its root, its marrow, so interred,
prepared to suffer, impossible to move.
Weed, wildflower, grown waist-high
where it is no one’s responsibility
to mow, its blue-white
center frankly open
as an eye, it flaunts
its tender, living lingerie,
the purple hairs of its interior.
Women are weeds and weeds are women
I once heard a woman say.
Bloom where you are planted, said my mother.

Catherine Rankovic (reprinted with permission)

Learn more about Catherine here:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

5 07 2011

Halloween Pennant Dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) photographed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

5 07 2011

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) dines on a Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia laevis) against a backdrop of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Buffet line

5 07 2011

A Fiery Skipper butterfly patiently awaits its turn behind a Bumblebee on a Stoke’s Aster.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


6 06 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Daylily ‘Stella d’Oro’ Hemerocalis + bonus bug

4 06 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Katydid and bonus bug

27 05 2011

I think this is a Katydid, but I’m not sure what the other tiny bug is. I sat down to photograph this yellow flower (identification unknown) and when I focused in on my subject, I spotted this katydid, not even 1/4- inch long. I opened the photo in Photoshop and discovered there was an even tinier bug at the bottom of the lowest petal! It might be this katydid’s offspring, but I can’t tell if the legs are the same. I think I need to get an extension tube to be able to get even closer on these tiny bugs. 

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in my garden: Lily-of-the-Valley

28 04 2011

Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis), with extremely tiny unidentified insect (can you spot him?). I didn’t see it until I zoomed in on the image in Photoshop!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Re-post: Pollen buffet

11 04 2011

Originally posted July, 2008

Two bees (or maybe one bee and a flower fly, perhaps?) vying for pollen on one small sunflower. See the fella on the right? Look at how thick the pollen is on his body and legs!

UPDATE: This morning I received an informative comment below from a biologist in Argentina. (Visit his/her blog at  Thanks for the details—I learn something new every day!

Nice photo. The one on the right is a female bee. The males don’t carry pollen on their back legs; in the world of bees the females do all the work. The one on the left is a flower fly, Eristalis; it is a male. You can tell because of its huge eyes.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Yep, you guessed it. Green Spring Gardens again.

11 02 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


1 11 2010

This might be a Scudder’s Bush Katydid (it looks a lot like the one here), except this one has more rust coloring. At the very least, I know it’s a Katydid and not a grasshopper (as I originally thought). I photographed it at Green Spring Gardens late this afternoon. This is one of only two shots I could get before he was on to me and off to his next meal.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Harvestman, take two

31 10 2010

From this angle, his body looks a little lobster-like, doesn’t it?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Green Bottle Fly (Phaenicia sericata)

16 10 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Egg laying time

15 10 2010

Top photo: Spotted Cucumber Beetle / Bottom photo: unidentified insect / photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.