How to shoot against a black background

I must admit that I have never liked photos taken at night that showed the subject, be it an insect or a person, against a pitch black background. If I am ever in a situation when a full-flash photo at night is the only option, I always try to put some light on the background…

When a bumblebee is not a bumblebee

Yesterday afternoon my wife called me and pointed out a large insect crawling on the lawn. “Look,” she said, “this is the largest bumblebee I have ever seen.” The insect indeed looked like a big bumblebee as it slowly buzzed, trying to take off. But when I looked closely I immediately realized that it was…

Red-headed Bush Cricket

Even a simple dog walk can turn into a voyage of discovery. Last weekend, when letting my dogs chase chipmunks in Estabrook Woods, I found this little gem of a cricket, a species I had never seen before. It was a nymph of a Red-headed Bush Cricket (Phyllopalpus pulchellus), also known as the Handsome Trig…

Don’t talk too loudly, somebody may be listening

Next time you see some wild flowers growing on the side of a road, look closely, and if you are lucky you may be able to spot an ambush bug. These small, cryptic insects are members of the genus Phymata, who in their feeding habits and some of the elements of their morphology resemble miniature…

The amazing flying gooseberries

If you ever find yourself in South Africa during southern spring, and stay up long into the night, until midnight at least, you may be rewarded with one of the most incredible acoustic displays that the insect world has to offer. For this is the time when the bladder grasshoppers, known in Africa as the…

My rainforest portrait studio

Katydids of the tribe Pterochrozini are some of the best leaf mimics that you can find in the Neotropical rainforest. Or rather the best mimics that you cannot find, as their resemblance to leaves, both green and shriveled, is so exquisite that in my 18 years of working in the Neotropics I have never found…