Creepy Crawley

I’m not talking about Downton Abbey or the town in England, I’m talking about spiders, bugs, butterflies and all manner of little wriggly things.


Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) – the scourge of gardeners.


A few weeks ago I wrote about documenting the wildlife in our garden and that I was widening the net, as it were, and including all animals including invertebrates. Well after a few weeks of trying this I’ve come up with some observations.


A very small jumping spider on a wandoo leaf. This is the only photo I got as it kept jumping all over the place.


Firstly, as a 58 year old man with a well dodgy back the time time taken between observing the little critter and getting down onto the ground and in a position to photograph it means that it has left the vicinity. Some of these creatures can move incredibly fast when they want to and I can’t. I knew that grasshoppers and their ilk can be very quick, but I wasn’t prepared for the speed of the jumping spiders – a blink of the eye and they are just out of there.


Christmas or jewelled spider. Not known for their speed of movement but the wind catches their webs and so focusing is difficult. Getting in a position to photograph them in a way that shows off their shape and colouring requires a degree of the flexibility that I am lacking.


Secondly, you have to able to contort yourself into some pretty strange positions to get down and photograph them. Now I thought that I’d got this one covered because I do this when photographing orchids, but combine this with being quick (see point one), being stealthy so as not to frighten them and having a spine with flexibility of an RSJ it makes each session like some weird kind of yoga with a camera.


Blue Banded Bee, Amegilla cingulata. York, Western Australia.


Thirdly, a lot of these critters are small. If you look at the photo of the jumping spider resting on a Wandoo leaf, it was less than 5mm in diameter. So you need good eyesight to spot things that small.  I’ve just had my eyes tested and they’re fine for distance it’s reading and close up stuff that’s the problem. You can’t rely on autofocus with macro photography and  I’m here to say that manually focusing on a small critter that keeps jumping around while having dodgy eyesight is not easy. As my dear old mum used to say “It’s enough to make saint swear!”.


This locust very obligingly sat still long enough for me to take his photo.


Lastly, the benefit of photographing creepy crawlies is that you don’t need a honking great telephoto lens that resembles a small artillery piece. Macro lenses are relatively lightweight and my back is thankful for that.


Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Orthetrum caledonicum). Although they move like miniature fighter jets when flying dragon flies will take frequent breathers on a twig or stalk, often preferring to use the same one repeatedly which makes photography a lot easier.