Bugs Behavin' Badly

Martha O'Kennon

One of the best parts about photographing tiny insects and spiders is how many times you can use your imagination to see the photo as if the creature seems to be enacting a human thought or action. Wasps, for instance, often have distinctive face patterns and they actually seem to be saying humanoid things. Their bodies are limber and they can also assume postures that remind us of human actions or feelings. Spiders, much to most people's surprise, may have an abdomen with markings that look like a human face, and so, like the wasps and other creatures, the combination of posture with these abdominal patterns adds up to a depiction of a human mood or action. In almost every insect or spider family, there will be individuals that mimic us and our worldly society. You have to take a lot of shots in order to find a few surprises but it is worth it to see the results.

One of the wasp species that is known to be able to distinguish the face of a comrade is the Northern Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus. Here are two of them parodying us. The second one knew I was there taking pictures, and decided I was just a piece of the scenery and turned to preening its arms and feelers. (Number 3 is actually a Vespula germanica female- worker or queen.)

Now what did I do with that damned thing?

I can't do a THING with these antennae!

I'm in the SHOWER!

Here we have one of the cutest leafhopper nymphs in the world. Second is a Northern Crab spider, and third a jumping spider. Note that the jumper's face is towards the top of the picture. So THIS face is on the back of his head, like that grasshopper's.

Please sir, can I have some more?

Because I'm the red queen and I say so!

So glad you could COME, Mr and Mrs Fly!

Here is a grasshopper seen face on. (This is its real face.) The second one's "face" is actually its real eyes with a face pattern continued down its thorax. Twist your eyes to the right in order to see this effect. In other words, same idea as a spider's human face - on its back. Third is a katydid nymph. The "foamy" patch on its cheeks disappears as the Katydid becomes an adult.

Who, me? Stay after school?

I know Nossing! Nossing!

I haven't finished shaving!

Here we have a flesh-eating fly (they get rid of dead bugs), a scorpion fly, and a feathery legged Tricopoda fly. This last one refers to the old TV show "Lassie".

Oh God! Those humans are ugggly!

Would I look better with a nose job?

Gotta find Timmy.. Gotta find Timmy!

These two male northern paper wasps meet in mid-air. Obviously each of them thought the other was a female. The one on top is drawing back its legs to avoid a confrontation with a not-friend to say the least. The lower one has opened its arms in a typical human baby startle reflex.

What are YOU doing here? What are YOU doing here?

Sometimes the photographee is acting out another species of animal or vegetable. This Rhubarb weevil (a kind of beetle) looks just like a fruit. The six-spotted orbweaver is posing as the USS Enterprise. The third one, a candy-striped leafhopper, is carrying around a globe of liquid. Ask no questions!

Don't step on me!

The USS Enterprise caught in the Tholian Web

It's the seltzer man!

Here are the nymph of a Leaf-footed Bug; a Candy-stripe leafhopper; and a Praying Mantis, whose lover seems to have escaped.

I just love a disco!

I shouldn't have crossed my legs...

Come back Darling! I looove you!

A Sawfly that looked like a cow to me; A Garden Spider finds an hors-d'oeuvre in the fridge; and Mata Hari meets a likely victim.


Ahh. Lunch is served!

Why, hellO, Stranger.

Here are a pair of common house spiders surveying their nursery, and a pair of twenty-spotted lady beetles.

I tell you, Frank, no more in vitro!

El Toro got into the neighbor's pasture!

And one last pair. I hope you recognize as this guy has been in the news all day every day since November 2016. And here is one of his biggest supporters.

Guess who won the election..

Whatever he says, I say.

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017