Physarum and Harlequin nymphs

18 Mar

Yesterday I noticed a scattering of tiny red bugs skittering around amongst dead and shriveled leaves on a piece of painted wood in our backyard. Irresistible to a woman with a macro lens.

After a bit of investigation I determined that they were newly hatched nymphal stage Harlequin bugs. Great for my camera but not so good for my tomatoes. Be that as it may I spent many happy moments attempting to capture good macro photos of them – not easy when they were disinclined to sit still. Here are a couple of the best along with an adult that seemed to be chaperoning them:

As I watched their antics, I noticed that many of the dead leaves scattered abot were delicately outlined with miniscule white dots. Several photos and some online research later, and I discovered that they were the fruiting bodies of a type of slime mold, probably physarum, possibly physarum alba. Sounds icky but the fragile structures resembled microscopic mushrooms.

I discovered a wonderful site online in the process, Marin_mushrooms, an Instagram site of an extraordinary photographer dedicated to creating magnificent stacked focus macro and super macro photos of these diminutive fungi and molds. I highly recommend a visit to her site at

In addition to being fragile, the Physarum I photographed with my more modest equipment and patience were quite short-lived: most had cracked open and started to wither by today.


All photographs taken by Sabrina Caldwell and licenced under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0. Photo editing limited to cropping only.


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