Eat or Be Et – Guest Article by Steve Russell
This is a photography blog, but sometimes subject matter themes present themselves at timely moments of the year. As we humans celebrate our holidays by consuming turkeys and other animal life, so too, do the bugs around us consume each other and it is all done in concert with the natural law of the jungle – “Eat or be Et.”
Imagine life – and death – in a bug’s world. A bee with absolutely nothing on its mind except collecting pollen until it suddenly slams into a spider’s web. Or a butterfly ventures too deeply into dense flowers and without warning feels the jaws of a crab spider clench its neck and inject it with paralyzing venom. I’ve seen and photographed smaller male spiders attack the larger females only to be wrapped up like a gift package and devoured within seconds. Ants somehow coordinate their kill as I saw happen on the stucco wall of my Nicaraguan hotel once, and they carried their much larger insect victim up the wall presumably to their nest to share the spoils. Damselflies and dragonflies lie in wait on grass tips and zip off to capture smaller insects in mid-flight and begin their meal even before they return to their roost. But as it is with all of these tiny creatures, the hunters can turn to prey in a moment’s notice.
No one is safe in the “Eat or be Et” world and it is the luck of the photographer that dictates whether or not the act is caught in the lens of the camera. If there is any trick to capturing these images beyond the usual camera settings, it is expecting the unexpected and being prepared for action. Each time it happens to me, though, I just thank my lucky stars that I’m in my world and not theirs.