Tiny wonders Down Under: watch this footage of enchanting little Aussie creatures

By Liz Ginis

September 27, 2022

This fascinating video featuring more than 30 different species was filmed in the Australian bush, most of them in a suburban Melbourne garden. The question arises, what is growing in your garden?

When Peter Virag wanders into his backyard, it’s not to mow the lawn or play a little backyard cricket. The photographer is on the hunt for tiny wonders that crawl and crawl, zigzag and zigzag, flap and flutter.

“All of the clips in this compilation were shot in my suburban Melbourne backyard, with some clips shot in a studio environment where I needed more control over lighting and composition,” says Peter. “I also have a specific spot on a nearby reservation that I call my ‘little sanctuary,’ where I always find something new.”

The Melbourne-based professional photographer uses all his equipment to capture these adorable creatures.

“For most of the footage I used my full frame camera, the Canon 1DX Mark II, which has a 1.34x crop factor when shooting in 4K resolution. This comes in handy when we get closer to our subjects when shooting macros.

“My main lens, which I used for most of these clips, was the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS, which I used both with and without the Raynox DCR-250, depending on the size of the subject, to further increase the magnification to increase.

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“For very small creatures like the tardigrade [tardigrade] For the clip, I used the Laowa 25mm Ultra Macro lens at its maximum magnification ratio of 5:1, which is five times the life-size magnification of a basic macro lens. I did some handheld shooting, but prefer to use a tripod for stability where possible, which has allowed me to create more cinematic scenes in post-production.”

Aside from perfecting his technical game of photography, Peter says it’s his love of nature that drives him to create shots like this again and again.

“I’ve always loved exploring the great outdoors, and since picking up a camera a few years ago, I’ve been photographing wildlife almost every day. I used to primarily be a photographer, but now I shoot both stills and video, which allows me to more thoroughly document these unique little creatures.

“I also enjoy learning about my subjects and usually do a little research once I’ve identified them, and I take great pleasure in sharing that knowledge through educational nature videos that I post regularly on my YouTube channel.”

“Observing nature is a unique experience, I consider it a privilege as it allows me to slow down and immerse myself in something that not only gives me pleasure but also drives me, motivates me to learn something new every time .

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“I fell in love with macro [photography] mostly because it makes me feel like I’m exploring and discovering something that is relatively unknown, that we know so little about, and the biggest benefit is that you don’t have to travel to exotic locations, these fascinating creatures are all around around us, you can find them in your own garden, on leaves, on patches of moss, on the footpath, they are practically everywhere. I’m very lucky because I can explore these tiny worlds whenever and wherever I want!”

Peter says the clips in this compilation were shot over the past several years (as of late 2020) with well over 30 hours of raw footage. “For example, the clips of the common peacock spider were recorded over a couple of weeks, where I spent nearly eight hours each day in the field capturing their behavior in their natural habitat. It took a lot of patience and preparation, but it was very rewarding and it sure was a lot of fun!”

Here are all identified species (in chronological order):

gyro mite (Genus Anystis)

oleander aphid (Aphis nerii)

Garden jumping spider (genus Opisthoncus)

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Angular crab spider (genus Sidymella)

White-flanked black braconid wasp (Callibracon head)

Male common peacock spider (Maratus pavonis)

Larva of a dark beetle/honey beetle (Ecnolagria grandis)

Banded Sugar Ant (Camponotus consobrinus)

female common peacock spider (Maratus Pavonis)

Redfish/Dragonfish (Diplacodes bipunctata)

Shieldback katydid (subfamily Tettigoniinae)

Ichneumon wasp (Genus Echtromorpha)

Feather moth (subfamily Pterophorinae)

Diamond combfoot spider (Cryptachaea veruculata)

Ichneumon wasp (family Ichneumonidae)

Rubber funnel (genus Platybrachys)

Centipede (Family Julidae)

winding spider (genus Dolophones)

jumping spider (Simaethula aurata)

Social house spider / Small hump spider (Philoponella congregabilis)

Robber fly (genus Cerdistus)

Grass lynx spider (genus Oxyopes)

Large ladybird (Genus Harmonia)

Caterpillar of the lichen moth (Cyana sp.)

Mushroom-Eating Ladybug (Illei galbula)

mono ant (Chelan Kiliani)

Male garden jumping spider (genus Opisthoncus)

Female garden jumping spider (genus Opisthoncus)

Long-legged fly (Family Dolichopodidae)

Lauxaniid Fly (Genus Homoneura)

Six-marked jumping spider (Opisthoncus sexmaculatus)

Portuguese centipede (Ommatoiulus Moreleti)

European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

garden snail (Cornus aspersum)

Tardigrades (Phylum Tardigrada)

Naididworm (Family Naididae)

Common half-banded hoverfly (genus Melangyna)

Pillbug / Woodlouse (genus Armadillidium)

Round-shouldered Orbweaver (genus Araneus)

Muskfly (superfamily Muscoidea)

brown beetle larvae (Ecnolagria grandis)

Magpie tiger moth caterpillar (genus Nyctemera)

jumping spider (Simaethula aurata)

Male common peacock spider (Maratus Pavonis)