Last week, only a narrow swathe of straggly Paterson’s curse lined parts of the bush track to our camp by the river.  I’m really pleased with the few photos of foraging bees I took (Nikon D3000), but I decided to seek out a fact or two about this weed before hitting publish.

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Paterson’s curse has a high concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloidsis, making it poisonous when eaten in large quantities by grazing animals. Those with simple digestive systems, like horses, are particularly vulnerable.

Native to Western and Southern Europe and is also known as blueweed, Lady Campbell weed, Riverina bluebell, and purple vipers-bugloss. In South Australia it is known as Salvation Jane because it has good points, too, being valuable fodder for ruminants – cattle and sheep – when natural pasture has died off.

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When used in honey production, the nectar has to be blended with other honey to reduce the toxins.

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I love how the colour changes over the life of the bloom – from pink to blues to purples. These images have only been cropped and sharpened. I haven’t messed with the colours.

 

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What I really wanted to know was how it got its name. Apparently, it’s thought that a Patterson family grew Echium plantagineum as an ornamental plant in their garden. It spread and took over previously productive land. I was a little disappointed at that, hoping for something more dramatic. I suppose Mrs Patterson got the blame.

I’m not surprised it would be cultivated for its beautiful flowers, though, not surprised at all.

Many thanks for dropping in!

🙂

 

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Bees & Bugs, Flowers

Bees and Salvation Jane

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Now it really feels like Spring has sprung – the bees are back. I’m improving on capturing them with the larger lens (55-200mm zoom). This morning, I decided one does not need to have everything in sharp focus to capture Nature’s quickening.

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I’m itching to photograph more small things.

Thanks for looking.

🙂

Bees & Bugs

Signs of Spring

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Bees & Bugs

Bee (Nikon D3000)

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Bees & Bugs

Honey Bee

I opened up my Nikon D3000 for Dummies book again this morning. I decided to reset all the shooting and set up options and start over (I messed about with the camera a few days ago). So, still on auto for these photos of the bee in the abelia bush this morning.

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The book advises me that learning to use the camera just from the Guide mode will make it harder for me to learn the other modes, later. Might take a decade, but I’ll get there!  I can’t wait to get my new lens and go back to the lake and get some great shots of the crested grebe. I suppose I’ll get a macro lens, too, one day.

Thanks for looking.   🙂

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Bees & Bugs

Netelia producta

I spotted this skinny bug in the jasmine this morning. I was chasing the blue-banded bee about with the Nikon D3000. Googling, I discovered this is most likely an orange caterpillar-parasite waspnetelia producta.

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Wikipedia has an interesting article on this wasp family…

The Ichneumonidae are a parasitoid wasp family within the order Hymenoptera. They are important parasitoids of other invertebrates; common hosts are larvae and pupae of Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera. Over 24,000 species have been described worldwide. Estimates of the total species range from 60,000 to over 100,000 – more than any other hymenopteran family.

Apparently these type of wasps caused Charles Darwin to question the existence of a benevolent God – unable to believe a kind God would create insects that fed on live caterpillars or have cats play with mice.

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The white bands on the antennae probably indicate its female and the sting doubles as the ovipositer.  While I was framing a shot, a bee landed on the same leaf and up went the stinger. Pity it wasn’t in focus – would have made a wonderful image. Not that I pressed the shutter. I was too busy jumping away. I thought that something so obvious might only be for show but I was a bit more careful afterward.

Thanks for looking.  🙂

 

 

 

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