My son noticed these little eating machines (also known as Birch Sawfly larvae, Cimbex femoratus, as I was to subsequently discover) which were systematically ingesting a leaf on one of the Silver Birches in our back garden last week with quite stunning efficiency. I was just about to flick them into infinity when I had two thoughts in quick succession - "Butterflies of the near future*?" & then - "Get your Crappy Macro Lens pronto!". The thought that they might be fluttering around the same garden reborn beautifully in a few weeks time spared them my rude interuption, even though they were lunching on one of my favorite trees.
From my limited Zoology Tuition as a Science undergraduate many years ago I assume that this formation feeding confers a degree of added safety from predation upon these little fellas (it also happens to look funny too of course to us Homo Sapien Anthropomorphs).
Whenever I (deliberately yet gently) touched one of them they would all simultaneously adopt the same arched back pose you can see above - presenting one bigger (more thretening?) bug as opposed to six individual little ones. Also, the bright coloration is a real giveaway - they are advertising the fact that they probably taste pretty bad too!
I also wished I had a better (as in sharper) macro lens, but I got a shot of sorts anyway...
*OK, so it turned out they were Birch Sawflies of the future but I'm still glad I clicked instead of flicked, then clicked them here onto flickr!
Explore # 8 on Sunday, August 2, 2009