On the button

This image began as a closeup of a bachelor’s button, with selective focus on a few parts of the flower. Then a tiny aphid-like insect crawled onto an anther:

As I watched, it crawled up to the top of the anther, perhaps to feed on the pollen. My shutter speed was too slow to catch those poses. Then I noticed two more, perching on other flower parts:

It’s the same flower, with focus moved a few millimeters behind the focal point in first image. That may give you an idea of how little depth of field there is at this magnification (around 2x or so) – the flower parts in the first image are hardly visible.

Now I’ll have to try to identify these tiny insects…

17 thoughts on “On the button

  1. The insects are better lit than I’d have expected, and they contrast nicely with the darker flower parts adjacent to them. In the second image I’m impressed that you managed to get both insects in focus. I know from experience how hard that often is even at 1x.

    • I stacked to get both insects in focus. I had to work quickly, the insects were moving, finding a better angle wasn’t an option. The light wasn’t an issue, this was shot in shade.

    • I grew them in full sun – that’s the recommendation. They are considered invasive in some areas – I didn’t know that until a moment ago. This species (Centaurea cyanus) isn’t not considered invasive in Mass, though.

      • really?! I wouldn’t have expected them to invade. Sigh. All the pretty things are deadly.

      • I think people throw “invasive” around too liberally. I think it’s best reserved for plants that really take over and form monocultures, or that harm natives, as oriental bittersweet does when it chokes trees.

      • Yes, we have that conversation here too. Sometimes we find plants on the list that we haven’t seen in the preserves (yet) and then later sure enough, they show up and start devouring a site.

  2. It’s possible that your insects are thrips. I’ve always enjoyed this flower’s resemblance to basketflower. They both were in the genus Centaurea, but now the basketflower’s been moved to Plectocephalus.No matter. The older name still is offered as a synonym.

    These are the most luscious shade of blue, and the anther detail is amazing.

    • I think your ID of thrips is correct. I found a drawing of one, and it closely resembles the photograph. I just looked up basketflower, it’s lovely. It’s still Centaurea americana at the Lady Bird Johnson Center, but taxonomists love to split a genus and invent new genus names.

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