Madagascar – Critters – Creepy Crawlies

Well I did promise that I would get a new post on here as soon as possbile, and I apologise for the delay. Here come the bugs!

Alrighty, so we’ll do insects first, shall we?

Odonata

The very first bugs we got to see close up (with the definite exception of mosquitos) were dragonflies. They thrive in the boiling heat of the exposed plains, and were ever present. They were the first animals I photographed outside of Diego, and they were so much more tolerant than any I have seen in Europe. I apologise for the lack of ID’s. I can’t even hope to provide them for the arthropods.

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600 f/3.2

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600 f/3.2D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/800s f/3.5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/800s f/3.5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/800s f/3.5

This species was found alongside this one:

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600s f/3.3

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600s f/3.3

Later, at the lagoon, I risked the itchy plant to take photos of a beautiful red dragon:

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/800s f/3.3

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/800s f/3.3

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/125s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/125s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/640s f/3.3

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/640s f/3.3

Dragonflies share Odonata with the damselflies, though the suborder differs. Damselflies were much more difficult to shoot, because they were found in worse light conditions and were generally much more flitty. I got lucky on one though:

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 Flash rig @ 1/60s f/6.3

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/6.3

Of course, it’s not only Odonata which has the beautiful fliers. Tropical countries are abound with butterflies, and Madagascar is no exception.

Lepidoptera

As part of the research we were undertaking, it was necessary to catch and ID a number of butterflies. This process didn’t require photographs, and so few were taken for scientific purposes, but I still managed to get a few shots. Faithful followers of this blog may realise that I had JUST come from shooting Painted Ladies at home, so I was used to the technique required to get good butterfly shots.

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1250s f/3.5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1250s f/3.5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/320s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/320s f/8

I was pleased to note a number of butterflies with translucent wing sections, and though I never got a chance, I would love to know if these sections are also covered in scales, or if they’re simply composed of membrane closer to skin.

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/500s f/5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/500s f/5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/640s f/5

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/640s f/5

Unfortunately, butterflies are not hatched in this gorgeous form, and we were plagued by their caterpillars, armed with a grand arsenal of weaponry.

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/125s f/11

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/125s f/11

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Fortunately for us, there were few incidences of stings and spikes from caterpillars.

Cerambycidae

Members of the long horn beetle family, of which I saw two species, neither of which I can identify, and only one of which I have pictures of. Its antennae span was about the length of my hand if not longer.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Mutillidae

This is just an educated guess at a family for the peculiar insects that follow. Mutillidae is the family of velvet ants, and this seems to fit the description. It is large, fuzzy, and distinctly wasp-like. The shoe almost fits.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/6.3

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/6.3

Well I’ve exhausted my insects it would seem! What follows? Arachnids! Now, these were plentiful, but I was pitiful in my photography of them, so I apologise.

The first I have to show, I have actually narrowed down to a species:

Latrodectus menavodi

This spider is of the same genus as (and possesses, it would seem, a similar venom to) your normal Black Widow, L. hesperus. It is however much larger, and significantly more beautiful.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

I was fiddling with this spider for some time, I’m glad that she didn’t bite me and that I didn’t know how deadly she was, or I wouldn’t have gotten nice pictures.

Salticidae

These are jumping spiders. What you have to bear in mind is that Madagascar has an unprecedented number of spider species, and that there remain thousands to be discovered and described. For that reason, this spider may in fact be a new species, and it would certainly not be easy to place it in terms of genus. All I know is that it belongs to the family Salticidae.

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/7.1

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/7.1

I leave you with two other spiders. I don’t know even where to begin classifying either of them, so we’ll just leave it nice and open. The first was photographed in Montagne d’Ambre. She’s about the size of my palm:

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s F/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s F/8

The final individual is most likely some form of crab spider of the Thomisidae family, but that’s again an educated guess. It has an amazing camoflage, in that it looks exactly like a stick. The strange thing is that its abdomen, instead of being rigid as you’d expect, flexes and bends. Weird, and probably a new species:

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post! Keep coming back, cuz the next post is going to be about… SNAKES! woo, I hope you’re excited. I am. Oh the suspense.

Watch this space!

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5 comments on “Madagascar – Critters – Creepy Crawlies

  1. The pictures are amazing!!! I only have a few of the insects ect.. so i will show people this if they want to see all the creepy crawlys!!!!
    I love the first one the most πŸ˜€

  2. Andrew says:

    Moofers had good trip, yes??

    How is you otherwise?

    Oh. Those pictures are ok. But just ok.
    (I’m kidding, they are very nice πŸ˜‰ )

  3. Andrew says:

    By the way, that aint a spider for that last one. It is a stick insect from the ORDER: Phasmatodea, you horrible liar! 😑

    • Mark says:

      that is not the case. It is most definitively a spider. Eight legs, spinnerettes, and about six eyes from what i could count. Certainly a spider.
      And yes, i had a freaking fantastic trip. And thanks πŸ˜‰

      • Andrew says:

        Yeah, well, that is a very mutated spider, I can tell you that.

        How is the home life? University start yet? How art thou geckers?

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