I posted this on My Blog yesterday:
"It was my incredible good fortune today to find a place where the bumble bees gather. Yesterday I saw a huge one, and today I saw three on one photo shoot, and about four on another outing. I was able to get within inches of them and then I let one crawl on me! What a special treat."
An amazing thing happened when I was photographing one of these beautiful creatures. A wasp, or some strange bee-looking bug, attacked my bumble bee. It was a large bumble bee and the little guy knocked her two feet from the flower she was sipping. The bumble bee was a bit dazed, but didn't get aggressive or try to fight back. And the attacker went after her again! I didn't think twice before defending the bumble bee. I swiped the air with my arm to knock the attacker down. It worked. I cleared the air of the offending bug and the bumble bee went on merrily sipping nectar.
This was my first time ever holding a bumble bee. It was down by my foot and looked a bit disoriented. I picked it up and it crawled on me. I'm not sure she was okay. I've seen my honey bees like this. She tried to fly but could only buzz her wings and not take flight.
I handled a lot of honey bees over the past several months that were dying beneath their hive. Some had a frenzied drunk-like behavior. They couldn't rest. They would crawl, stumble, fall and keep on going. This bee was acting very similar to the honeybees.
I go out nearly every day in search of capturing insects through a camera lens. I commonly find grasshoppers, ladybugs and daddy longleg spiders. I've also become very familiar with damselflies, and of course, my honey bees.
I can be found chasing down any flying creature! I go toward bumble bees and wasps, and even spiders.
This yellow bug (above) was so calm and fearless. I love that.
I see dragonflies every now and then. They are spectacular! I've seen ornate ones, huge ones and colorful ones. Each time I luck upon them, it's magical. I've only gotten distant shots so far. I can't wait to get a good capture! They take my breath away; so do butterflies. I've tried getting photos of various wasps, but they very rarely land on anything, so they're mostly in constant motion.
Blurry photo of damselflies mating
Today I saw a pair of damselflies mating. They flew together in unison. I followed them for twenty yards or so, from one weed or blade of grass to the next, but then I got distracted for a nano second and lost sight of them. I got one semi blurry photo.
What I love about my new interest in photographing insects, is the interaction with these little creatures. I'm finding ways to communicate with them and that's something I never thought was possible.
I also love watching these creatures explore the world.
Look at how this little guy (below) is reaching out to touch the plant.
He had been on the green leaf and I introduced him to a flowering plant.
He was moving all over it. Maybe it was a plant he wouldn't
have normally been crawling around had I not placed him there.
When I mention to people that I'm enjoying my macro lens and how
interesting I find the insect world, I get a lot of blank stares and those
nods that people give when they're thinking how weird someone is.
Maybe it is weird. But it's an amazing world out there. There's so much
life crawling around, flying around, hopping around, digging, hiding, eating,
exploring, and capturing a tiny fraction of it through a lens is fascinating.
Yesterday I followed a grasshopper around from blade of grass to blade of grass. They'll stay put if they don't fear me, but I have to get so close with my lens that I can see them seeing me and often they'll slide around the blade of grass so I can't see their eyes. They move from side to side like a game of hide and seek. But every once in a while, they get used to me, and realize I'm not going to hurt them. Yesterday that allowed me to pick up the little guy and let him walk around my hand. He stayed for quite sometime. As with all living creatures, I talked to him (or her.)
I've read about grasshoppers spitting a tobacco like substance that other insects don't like. I've never had one do it to me. This little fella seemed quite happy to explore my hand and wasn't in a hurry to hop away.
I do the same thing with ladybugs. I pick them up or pick up the leaf they're visiting sometimes. They will also hide from me, but they are less ready to fly off the way the grasshoppers are ever ready to hop away. I've gotten to where I know when a ladybug is going to fly off. I can see her outer shell begin to slowly open. Sometimes I can get the fear to subside and she'll stick around.
Song of the grasshopper ....
"That familiar chirping in the fields of the countryside is the result of grasshopper stridulation. A row of evenly spaced, minute pegs on the largest joint of the hindlegs is rubbed over the more prominent veins or ribs of the forewing. Usually, but not always, only the males can sing. Each species has its own song." source:http://www.planet-pets.com
I loved how calm this daddy longleg spider was. I actually adjusted his legs for a better photo op (below) using a leaf to pull them straight. The spider let me move her legs without getting alarmed or trying to run! I thought that was pretty amazing!
"Grasshoppers only weigh about 2 to 3 grams, but can thrust their legs against the ground at a force of 30 grams with legs half-extended. This works when leg muscles contract. This must all take place quickly, the thrust and contractions, because if the thrust builds up too slowly, the grasshopper will not get a quick take-off and the leap will not be very far. The northern grasshopper can actually leap 20 times the length of its body at full force." source: eHow.com by Emilia Lamberto.
I think this might be some kind of moth (below), but I don't know.
The texture looks like suede!
I think this is a Mexican Bean Beetle. Here's what I learned today:
The Mexican bean beetle, formerly called the bean ladybird, is one of the most destructive insect pests of beans in
New York State. The beetle feeds on the leaves of almost all types of beans, including snap, lima, pinto, navy,
kidney, and soybeans. With snap beans, bush varieties seem to be attacked more readily than pole varieties.
Most of the damage from the Mexican bean beetle occurs during July and August. Both the adult and the larval
stages feed on the foliage, chewing out holes in the leaves. They usually feed on the undersides of the leaves, and
sometimes will attack young pods and stems. As a result of feeding, only the veins are left, giving the leaves a lacy appearance. Yield may be greatly reduced and the entire planting may be destroyed in severe infestations. source: http://www.entomology.cornell.edu
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment."
Look at that face! This little guy was peering over a cactus plant on my morning walk. What incredible creatures are out there. I love seeing all this detail. He was watching me and staying on guard. My favorite thing is when the insects relax around me and stop hopping away or flying off. Sometimes they just let me get within an inch of them and I just click away on my camera.
"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."
"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise
our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give
and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy,
healing, and inclusion."
Max de Pree
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself."
(I love this quote.)
"People living deeply have no fear of death."
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
Henry David Thoreau
"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life."
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage
is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or
usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."
"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
"The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower,
share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile
at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me
continual spiritual exercises."
"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts.
This is the secret of success."
"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time."
"Too bad all the people who know how to run this country
are busy running taxicabs or cutting hair."
George Burns (1896-1996)
Life is "trying things to see if they work"
- Ray Bradbury
(I live by those words!)
"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already
ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves."
"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
~Robert Green Ingersoll~
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
"No one can go back and make a brand new start.
Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Thomas Edison
This was a first for me. I watched this damselfly eat an entire insect. I have a series of photos showing it devouring a bug. Damselflies are so small, that it took me a while, as I was photographing it, to even realize it was eating something. At first, I thought it was eating a tiny blade of grass. After I downloaded the photos I could see that it was, in fact, eating a bug!
Something I've become aware of, only after photographing insects, is how independent they are, and how they are not out to 'get humans'! I think many of us have this idea that insects intentionally want to attack us. Some might, but most don't. What I'm observing shows just the opposite. Most bugs want to move away from me. If they land on me it's because I'm in their environment like a piece of the landscape and/or they're curious, but never do I get the feeling they are out to hurt me. They like to do their own thing, whatever that happens to be.
Bugs just seem to be busy with the business of living.
Interestingly, bugs seek what animals and humans seek. Food, shelter, safety, and it appears even having fun is on their agenda.
The critter below was no larger than a 1/4 inch.
Arachnids have eight legs and are further distinguished from insects (that have six legs) by the fact they have no antennae or wings.
Pictured here are Opiliones (formerly Phalangida, and better known as "harvestmen" or "daddy longlegs"), which are arachnids. They are harmless to people and known for their exceptionally long walking legs, compared to their body size. As of 2007, over 6,400 species of Phalangids have been discovered worldwide. source: wikipedia
"When I finally stand up and take the camera away from my eye,
and fade back into my giant, human status, only then do I realize
how small the world is that I just entered, and at the same time,
how much larger it now feels to know so much life exists in that realm."
~ by Betsy Seeton
Green lacewings are delicate insects with compound eyes and typmpanal organs. Wikipedia explains, "A tympanal organ is a hearing organ in insects, consisting of a membrane stretched across a frame backed by an air sac and associated sensory neurons. Sounds vibrate the membrane, and the vibrations are sensed by this organ." I've never been much of a bug person, so this was very interesting. (If I could ever remember 'tympanal', I could use it in scrabble.)
Adults lacewings have typmpanal organs at the forewings' base, enabling them to hear well. Some Chrysopa show evasive behavior when they hear a bat's ultrasound calls: when in flight, they close their wings (making their echolocational signature smaller) and drop down to the ground. source: wikipedia
This green lacewing was incredibly camouflaged against the green leaf. The wings were translucent with a slight iridescence and green wing veins. The only distinguishing feature it had, making it stand out a tiny bit from the leaf, yet only the size of the head of a pin, were the black and gold colored eyes. It would be so easy to never see this bug unless, like me, you were searching for insects to photograph. It was no bigger than one half inch.
I followed this damselfly around from blades of grass to dandelions that had gone to seed, and then to dried up weeds and back to grass. It's a skill that can actually be sharpened. On each photoshoot, I train my eyes to be uncommonly observant. It takes complete focus; 100% attention. It's a great way to get away from life's stress. It gives me no time to mull over my own personal issues. All my thoughts must stay "in the field" and not wander away or drift off.
To get a decent shot, I'm often crawling on my stomach or crouched so low in a squat position with my elbows on the ground. I have to move slowly, and quietly, and yet get comfortable enough, and close enough, to hold the camera steady.
I'm no video game player whatsoever, but lately I wondered if photoshoots like this might feel like being inside a video game, where the shooting is not done with guns, but using a camera, and I'm not out to kill, only to get a killer photo. It has a competitive feel to it, but only against myself. I'm out to capture the world we rarely notice, but one that is all around us. I'm now taking notice of life that has largely been oblivious to me. It makes the world vastly more interesting.
It's a little bit like being a character in the Disney movie, Honey I Shrunk The Kids. When I'm working on this macro level, these critters seem much larger and much more imposing than they are. When I finally stand up and take the camera away from my eye, and fade back into my giant, human status, only then do I realize how small the world is that I just entered, and at the same time, how much larger it now feels to know so much life exists in that realm.
All the elements of exquisite beauty are present. There are
mesmerizing shapes, colors, texture and such interesting main characters.
I googled to figure out what kind of insect I'd photographed below. It had a sparkly green body that made it look a bit like a honey bee dressed in drag. I think they're called sweat bees, named for their habit of landing on people and licking the perspiration from the skin in order to obtain the salt.
"This family of bees engages in a behavior called sonication, or buzz pollination. The bee places the anther in its jaw and vibrates each flower with its flight muscles, causing pollen to be dislodged. Wild blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) crops are more effectively pollinated through buzz pollination, and sweat bees do pollinate this plant."
"These bees visit between four and eight flowers per minute and carry significant pollen loads on their hind legs. Additionally, sweat bees are generalist feeders - they feed on, and subsequently pollinate, many different flower types. These behaviors and adaptations make sweat bees efficient pollinators." source: http://www.nbii.gov
This little light blue fly-bug pictured above
(need to find out what it is)
was about the size of a mosquito.
I added some photos to this blog from other walks. All my photography is for sale as framed and matted prints. Please contact me for details. Custom orders are a pleasure. Email me: betsy at livehonestly dot com.
My LADYBUG photo book is now available for sale! This makes a stunning gift book or the perfect coffee table book that adds color and beauty to any setting. Full of inspiring quotes.
One square mile of land contains more insects than the total number of human beings on earth!
The Earth has a surface area of 196,939,900 square miles.
It's estimated that there are more than 200 million insects for each human on the planet!
A recent New York Times article claimed that the world holds 300 pounds of insects for every pound of humans.
There are some 900 thousand different kinds of living insects known in the world. The true number of insect species can only be estimated from present and past studies. Anywhere from 1 million to 10 million insects may still be unidentified as yet, according to scientists.
About insects ...
"These small, six-legged creatures include bees, ants, flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, cockroaches, termites, fleas, and beetles. Although some insects annoy us by spreading disease, damaging crops and household items, and biting people and pets, these represent only about 17% of all the 800,000 species.
The rest of the insects serve a very valuable purpose in nature. These serve as food for birds, frogs, fish, and other animals; pollinate crops; destroy other harmful insects; give us honey, bees wax, shellac, and silk; and keep the land clean by feeding on dead animals and plants."
Source of the above: http://www.bigsiteofamazingfacts.com