Wildwater.tv's Blog

Video and Scientific Photography

Archive for October, 2009

The pen is mightier than the sword

Posted by wildwatertv on October 23, 2009

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Slightly more prosaic subject matter, but ballpoint pens are really a miracle of engineering.  When you use them they pick up small pieces of paper and fibres.  These eventually go inside the ball and clog up the mechanism, but considering the balls are far less than a millimetre in diameter it’s amazing they work so often.  I’ve spent all morning seeing the differences between brands and they vary enormously.  Lighting them is also a challenge.

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Sweets? No, more pollen.

Posted by wildwatertv on October 21, 2009

 

pollenlilyblogThis looks like sugar coated sweets, but it’s actually lily pollen.  This is the stuff that stains all the curtains and gets everywhere.  It’s sticky, but colourful.  Each grain of pollen has a sticky surface which allows it to be collected by pollenating insects such as bees.  Because of its colour, it also makes a great subject for microphotography.  This was taken using a Nikon Achromat x10 microscope objective and highly modified Lomo microscope with a fabricated Nikon Phototube.

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The face of a wasp

Posted by wildwatertv on October 16, 2009

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This is a familiar summer face, the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris)  again on ivy.  This photograph shows the complex mouth-parts of the wasp.  These are almost like a plane or a spokeshave enclosed in powerful jaws and are used not only for feeding, but for scraping and chewing wood to form the paper used in nest-building.  Although they are a nuisance, wasps have a beauty all of their own.

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Bees have hairy eyes

Posted by wildwatertv on October 14, 2009

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It’s clear that when you look at a bee that it’s a hairy sort of animal, but close up photography reveals a strange fact.  The eyes are covered with hairs too.  This might be to protect them from pollen, or for some other purpose.  These two specimens were feeding on ivy flowers, which produce a sort of sticky substance insects find irresistible.

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Lepidoptera

Posted by wildwatertv on October 2, 2009

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Lepidoptera are butterflies and moths.  Although we generally just see their wings they have interesting faces too.  The top image is a night flying moth caller the silver y moth, or Autographa gamma.  It is so called because on the dark brown wings there appears to be a small letter as in the picture below the face.  The bottom image is the face of a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui). The fascinating thing about these animals is the way they gather food.  They taste with their feet and use the long rolled up tongue to reach the deepest nectaries of flowers.  The tongue is just a drinking tube really.

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