Friday Flower – New England Aster

New England Aster - Photograph by Laura Lecce
New England Aster – Photograph by Laura Lecce

New England Aster is North American native plant, and is a great way of adding some bright color to your Autumn garden. Another fantastic perk is that these flowers are a great source of nectar for bees and butterflies, which can keep macro photographers busy for hours, and I also discovered that some butterflies have baby blue colored eyes. Not only are these flowers edible for insects, they are also a great way to add some color to your salads. This plant (mostly extract from the roots) has been used by many cultures (including Native Americans and Chinese) as a herbal remedy for fever, inflammation, and gut-related irritations. Planting some New England Aster is not only great for your garden, but can become so much more than just a pretty flower.

Red-Banded Leafhopper

Leafhopper - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Leafhopper – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Gary I found one!!! Australia definitely doesn’t have such boldly colored leafhoppers, they are mostly a boring green color, making them very hard to spot amongst the leaves. In contrast, this red-banded leafhopper I found in Central Park is incredibly colorful, and doesn’t blend in at all. Native to North and Central America, this insect is so teeny tiny, it makes some ants look big! I wouldn’t have even known what I was looking at if it wasn’t for a post by Gary on his blog called krikitarts showcasing this spectacular insect (click here for post), with a fantastic photo as well. As soon as I spotted it, I was so excited to see one for myself. It was incredibly hard to photograph as the breeze kept moving the leaf, and the little critter wouldn’t stay still at all, and he’s so tiny I kept losing him, so this is as good a photo as I could get. This colorful insect certainly brightened up my overcast and dreary Sunday afternoon.

A lucky Lady

A Lucky Lady - Photograph by Laura Lecce
A Lucky Lady – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Life is supposedly based on a simple equation… Work hard and you will be successful. This may be somewhat true, but I believe that a whole heap of luck is also involved. There are many things you can do in life to increase your chances at being lucky – optimism, open mindedness and determination will go far in helping you live the life you consider successful, which of course, is very different for all of us. So today I offer you this lady beetle, which is considered a sign of good luck by many cultures. My grandmother strongly believes in luck, and would tape four-leaf clovers to all of the framed photos she had around the house. When I was a young child I would go hunting in the garden to find shiny red, yellow or orange lady beetles. After returning from the garden with one in my hand, my grandmother used to recite a nursery rhyme in Italian as she was tracing circles around the lady beetle on my palm. I no longer remember the words of the rhyme, but it was telling the lady beetle to fly away and find me a husband. As it turns out, a month after my husband and I started dating he went to Italy with his parents for 2 months. On his return he gifted me a necklace with a beautiful lady beetle charm attached, and 5 years on we were married. So, sometimes in life working hard doesn’t mean anything at all, you just need a little luck and a lady beetle.

The Magic of a Hoverfly

Hoverfly - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Hoverfly – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This weekend I met a magical hoverfly. Why magical? Because this is by far the most magical and festive photograph I have ever taken. As soon as I saw the result, I imagined this fly to be a character out of Alice in Wonderland. Those giant round eyes and delicate transparent wings are perfect compliments to the whimsical pattern of his yellow behind – hovering above a background of delicate pinks and greens, punctuated with bright yellow stars which complete this beautiful world. A snapshot of the most perfect moment in time and space.