Behavior

Posted on 2012/01/20

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Insects do interesting things!

Showing what Insects do is great way of making photographs interesting. This does, however, require knowledge of subject, patience, and desire to do some work. Effort put into this kind of photography usually pays off big time.

Tongues!
An easy way to start with behaviour photographs is shooting Bees and Wasps eating. They are easy to find and photograph. Mostly they will stay as you take photographs there attentions behind elsewhere.

Below is Bumble Bee lapping up nectar.
Bee tongue
One can see tongue, red and black. This is quite simple shot to take. Watch for Bee or Wasp and place yourself such that you can see tongue. Take several shots as tongue will be visible only part time.

Food
Insects are vicious little critters at times. Eating, other than sucking nectar, is another interesting behaviour that is fairly easy to capture.

Spiders are usually simplest to photograph eating because Spider webs are usually out in the open.
Spider vs Damsel

Some Spiders do not use webs to trap food. Some hunt while others lay in ambush. Crab Spiders are famous for this. Below is Skipper Moth in fangs of yellow Crab Spider.
Skipper vs Crab Spider
Crab Spider is barely visible under flower. Some yellow legs and body can be seen here. This photograph has interesting story. When taking this shot remember think ‘Why is this guy (Skipper Moth) not moving?’. It was not until post processing that Crab Spider was noticed. This sort of things happens fairly frequently!

Assassin Bugs are another group of Insects that are fairly easy to find feeding. They are typically spotted on broad leaved plants in deciduous forests. They are also one of few genus’ that one should not attempt to pick up. They like feeding on humans – and it HURTS!
Assassin
Here Assassin Bug is shown finishing up meal of Long-jawed Spider.

Spider skin
Spiders are interesting in many ways. One is there tendency to crawl out of there skin from time to time. Many other Insects and allies do this as well.

This is photograph of Long-jawed female Spider newly moulted.
Spider moult
Her old skin, on left, is left sloughed off like bodysuit. When wandering about in bush one finds many of these old skins laying about. Some people think they dead Spiders when in fact they are old clothing.

Flying
Flying is one of hardest types of behaviour photographs to get. Simplest way to do this is getting Insects near flowers. With bit of patience on can often predict flight paths.

Hummingbird Moth
Above is Hummingbird Moth, common in these parts. One can also see tongue (proboscis).

Another example:
Flying Bee

Another way to get flying Insects is to get them as they are leaving – usually because you just arrived 🙂 In cooler weather or mornings Insects are sometimes sluggish and may take several seconds to respond. This allows for proper shot set up. Below is example.
Flying Fly

Others have posted amazing photographs of flying Dragonflies and Syrphids. Check out Flickr or other photo sites!

Sex
Sex! Sex! Sex! Er…

Insects are rarely shy when mating. This makes it fairly easy behaviour to catch.

Below are two Damsels mating. Many interesting shots can be had with these including water reflections, groups, etc.
Mating Damsels
These Insects are fairly shy except when mating or eating (They eat other Insets). So mating is good time to get excellent photographs of them.

Jagged Ambush Bugs are very common and easily found on flowers. Of interest here is they can be found in stacks of three or more whilst mating. To each there own…
Jagged Abush Bugs mating

Laying eggs
Most Insects lay eggs. Some, like Aphids, do live birth. Knowing Insect habits is great help for this kind of photography.

Below is Sawfly laying eggs in blade of grass.
Sawfly laying eggs
Ovipositor is clearly shown in orange here. THis photograph was done with MP-E 65mm 5:1 macro lens. More on this in later post.

Insects lay eggs everywhere. Mosquitos typically lay eggs on calm water in small rafts. Spiders, as shown below on more or less flat surfaces, leaves, building, etc. Look and you will find them.
Spider and eggs

Insects eggs are as varied as those who lay them. Many opportunities are available for one who takes time to find them.

Being born
Finding Insect eggs is fairly simple. Any place sheltered will often yield some.

Below are hatching and newly hatched Stink Bugs (yes, they do smell bad).
https://i1.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5224/5616476494_307c2175ce_z.jpg
Many species of Insects will stay near hatch site for some time. They do this for various reasons. Some will eat egg shells for nutrition or wait until most of hatch are out of eggs. It is also assumed that some do this because it is safer – after all they developed in this location. This affords us ability to find them.

Dying
Though Insects are abundant in most habitats it is still sad see them die. Corpses typically do not last long. Other Insects, Birds, Mammals, and other life forms usually devour then within hours. Mornings are usually best time to see recently deceased individuals.
Dead Dragon

This post quickly covers Insect behaviour and some ways to photograph it. This topic alone is worth its own blog and books have been written on this subject. Knowing Insect behaviour and capturing it in photographs take patience and understanding – time.

Related to behaviour is interactions with people. Future post will cover this topic.

Till next time!

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