This May Bug You

Eeeeeeeek!!!!

The bloodcurdling shriek echoed through the office, grabbing everyone’s instant attention.  What could possibly have triggered such a terrified cry?

Following the sound of the shriek, we peered into a room and found a young lady standing atop her desk, pointing, with a horrified look on her face.  Other ladies in the room stood well back. A fellow from the warehouse next door, first of the manly men on the scene, followed her pointed arm to find the source of the horror.

It was a spider.

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Crowded amongst the onlookers outside the door, I never actually saw the fearsome beast,  I cannot attest to its gruesome qualities.  But the warehouseman did as any hero would do; he grabbed a handy tissue, carefully stalked the lurking beastly horror, scooped it up, and squashed it.

It didn’t hurt that he was a good-looking young dude, looking to score points with the damsel in distress.


I admit, I’ve never quite understood why some folks are so terrified of such a tiny creature.

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I mean sure, if you get up real close, and check out the multiple sets of eyes, the spiky legs, and maybe even a little fur they look kind of creepy.  But what sort of twisted mental case does that?

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And I’ll admit too, they can be kind of sneaky.  Who hasn’t walked down a narrow passageway and run face-first into an unseen cobweb?  I know I have.  I’m sure it amuses onlookers, watching some innocent suddenly stop in their tracks and start flailing their arms in space, looking like a human helicopter trying for an instant take off.

At least I don’t shriek when I do it.


On the other hand, you’d think bees would generate a tad of terror.  Talk about bug-eyed furry monsters.

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Bees come in a wide variety of species.  This big boy was about the size of a fingertip. And secretly, he was a physicist.  Somehow, he’d discovered how to violate the laws of physics, getting that big body airborne with what seemed like insufficient wing loading.

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Perhaps he went into a drug-induced state to discover an alternate physic, triggered by the various nectars he collected.  He certainly had quite a buzz.

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The astute among you have no doubt worked out the theme of this post: macro photography of bugs.  This can be a tricky endeavor.

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These aren’t dead bugs, perpetually posing where they left off life.  They’re all quite apt to scurry or fly off, seeking safer ground.

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And why wouldn’t they?  Consider the perspective of the bug.  A being the relative size of a skyscraper walks up, points a steamroller with a culvert attached to it in your face, getting quite close, and gently wobbles back and forth before shooting at you.  He may even have a big white movie screen attached to the steamroller and hanging over the culvert, that when he shoots lights up the world with a flash of lightning.

Would you stick around?  Me neither.

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It’s no simple walk in the park for the guy carrying the culvert either.  When you get this close and magnify this much, depth of field (the area front to back that’s in focus) becomes minuscule.  This confused mosquito(?) trying to suck blood out of a rose petal shows how little leeway there can be.  For some of these shots, such as the opening spider and the fly, I had to take several shots, each with a slightly different section in focus, and combine them afterward.  (Focus stacking.)  This is best done with a tripod, but I did it the hard way – handheld.

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Sometimes you just don’t quite get the shot.  But it might just be a bug you’ve never seen before – what are you going to do, delete it?

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Other times you might see strange bedfellows.

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I’m not sure how safe I’d feel if I were that little beetle.

It helps if you’re not quite as close.

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Well, some, at least.  There still wasn’t much wiggle room for this moth, and he wasn’t keen on sticking around.

Other bugs seem oblivious.

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Baby aphids

They’re in their own little world, or maybe they’ll become big enough to not worry about it.

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Adult aphids

In any case, the world of bugs can be weird and wonderful.  Consider this alien.

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He was so strange I had to “paint” his portrait.

So with Halloween nearly upon us, I leave you with this parting thought.  The bugs are out there.  More than you know, more than you notice.  Each of them awaits, perhaps with multiple buggy eyes, and spiky legs, and fur you probably don’t want to pet. And when one jumps out from his hiding place, scurrying across your path, what will you do?

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54 thoughts on “This May Bug You

  1. You’ve got a great album of close-ups here! Like a National Geographic safari. But I have to admit, Dave, if we’re going to look closely at those spiky beasts in the first three shots, I’d be happier if they were imbedded in resin or formaldehyde or something. Bees on the other hand, if they’re honeybees or bumblebees, have never bothered me, they’re non-aggressive and totally busy loading up on pollen. The bug itself isn’t as spectacular as your jazzy alien portrait, but I like the shot of the little black bug on the green background, looking like it’s either watching something, or maybe working up the nerve to jump off and see if its wings are working. I always forget how bizarre and colorful their eyes can be. Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another one of your lovely fairy-tale-like stories nicely adjusted to the upcoming Halloween, Dave! The only thing I did not like, as an admirer of Albert Schweitzer and his respect for all life, was that the poor spider had been squashed, just because an oversensitive woman was terrified by its looks. Your part on the bees and bumblebees, which on your great macro shots look just as fear-inspiring as the poor spider, emphasizes the point that fear is in the eyes of the beholder. Haha!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your heading photo is stunning, Dave! All of your photos are amazing. I am in awe of bugs/insects. They have been here before us and they will continue to survive far longer than humankind. “Focus stacking.” A new, intriguing concept for me.

    A very witty, entertaining and beautiful post. No words to truly describe the stunning photos. National Geographic:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some beautiful and memorable photography here. I think my favourite might just be the last alien guy. Truly enjoyed seeing all of them and reading the accompanying humor.

    Sadly, the numbers of insects and bees are in steady and drastic decline.

    “The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered”.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/02/why-insect-populations-are-plummeting-and-why-it-matters/

    After living in Sri Lanka on the edge of the jungle, I grew to enjoy looking at insects, even spiders, up close and noticing the details and behaviours ~ instead of just automatically shrieking and running away. We always tried to keep spiders alive when removing them from the interior. A good way is using a combination of a piece of cardboard and a plastic bowl. Slip the cardboard under the spider, slap the house on top and carry said spider outside back to nature.

    Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your photography.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Peta. I’ve used a variation of your cardboard and bowl trick to remove bees from the house. I don’t mind a few spiders roaming the corners, they may be dining on something I’d like less. Good point about the insect populations. Many scientists would say we’re already in our sixth global mass extinction event, the insects are likely a good bellwether.

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  5. Fantastic photos, Dave! Those bees sure look different from those from my neck of the woods. I’m tempted to take a photo of one spider – a fairly large fat fella, with short stubby legs and not at all handsome – that sits at the centre of a huge cobweb, almost perfectly hexagonal in shape, hanging near my neighbour’s entrance. These days sun shines exactly on the webs at precisely 9 AM (if it’s sunny of course). The worry I have, apart from Mr Spider not being up for the job, is what the neighbour might think of me!

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    1. Those bees don’t look like the ones from my neighborhood either. They’re from a recent trip to the Carolinas (specifically, a botanical garden near Charlotte, NC.) They’d be bouncers in a local bee nightclub.

      I suppose that your spider might be an excuse to meet the neighbor. Especially if it was a dewy morning, and the web was a string of pearls.

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  6. Your second spider, hanging in its web, looks familiar. We have seem them all over South Holland. I think it is a Garden Spider. I have tried to photograph them with my iPhone with limited success. Your photos are amazing.

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    1. I suspect that spiders are like birds; there’s a lot of “little brown ones” out there that look about the same. It helps to have a macro lens. They do have attachments for cell phones that can get you both closer views (more macro than telephoto) and wider ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That is a delightful series of close-ups of insects and others (as spiders aren’t insects in a biological sense at least). It’s hard to understand some people’s reactions to spiders, but of course, it’s not rational but rather an unconscious phobia.

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    1. I didn’t know spiders aren’t considered insects, I thought insect was a more generic term. Learn something new… I suppose it’s like fruit vs vegetables – a lot of what we’d consider vegetables (like green beans for instance) are technically fruit, botanically. Whatever they are, they’re interesting critters (especially the web spinning part.)

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  8. Incredible macro shots, Dave. Love the last one, especially. They bring out the personalities of these tiny creatures. I was once terrified by spiders, but then I found out it’s my animal totem (spirit animal). So I grew to love them.

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      1. It’s the creatures that keep showing up in your life in unusual ways- dreams and in unexpected ways, either the creature itself or its image. Animals that you are inexplicably drawn to or are terrified of. You can have more than one. My primary totem is spider, but I also have raven and rabbit as totems. Spider is a writer’s totem, that’s why I decided to take her as an ally rather than keep rejecting her. I’m told it’s one of the rarest totems to have.

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      2. Hmm. Well, I don’t remember my dreams once I wake up, so no insights there. I suppose cats might be one; I had ’em for 20 years and help adopt them out these days. I’ve always thought dolphins were cool, although I haven’t been around them that much. Sound promising?

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  9. A great closeup on the life of bugs. Personally I’m apprehensive until I get a clearer view and perhaps identification of the bug – we have many poisonous/dangerous species here in Australia. I’ve been known to unleash 10 second bursts of Mortein on wasps, funnel web spiders and redneck spiders I’ve encountered in my backyard. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fantastic photos Dave.
    Florida, being sub-tropical, has a wealth of bugs. In this “kinder gentler” age, I’ve learned I can pick up a wasp and throw him out of the house. But I would never do the same with a spider; some of the locals have a bite that can do a lot of damage.

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    1. I admit to not always being kinder or gentler with bugs in the house. Ants usually get squashed. Sometimes spiders, if there are getting to be too many. Bees always get a gentle capture and release. Fortunately for us, poisonous isn’t normally an issue.

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  11. I can’t stand ants. Chalk it up to some bad childhood memories. BTW, about a week ago, we were meeting in the conference room at work when a spider walked across the desk. Two of the women shrieked, and one actually jumped out of her chair and backed up a few paces. I thought that was a bit extreme, lol.

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    1. Occasionally well have a colony of ants attempt to take over the hot tub. I am neither kind nor gentle in this case.

      Ever wonder why woman seem to overreact to spiders more than guys? Seems like they’d be equally creepy to both sexes.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. seraphsun

    I’m generally terrified of all creepy crawlies, and wouldn’t want to see them up close, but your quirky prose kept me entertained all the way to the end. Amazing macro shots and lovely writing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I print, mat, frame and show often and have an exhibit of about 20 photographs at the library from January to March. My house is full of framed photos I’ve had in shows over the years. I enjoy looking at them and remembering.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Spiders are a mixed blessing. Setting aside the fact they give a lot of folks the heebie jeebies they don’t move much, which is great for macro. But anytime a little breeze comes along the web wiggles, which sucks given the miniscule DOF. The rest of the bugs have been hit or miss. I picked up a proper flash this year so I’ll probably try to get more bug shots going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And we love them for the part they play in the greater scheme of things. 🙂 Good point about them not moving much! 😉 I guess you could try focus stacking – yet another technique that can take hours to figure out. The flash was a good idea though, and I look forward to seeing what else you do.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I actually used focus stacking on the first spider picture and the first fly picture. Hand held, continuous shutter, three shots. I’ve just stuck my toe in on that technique, we’ll see how it evolves.

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