Praying Mantis Eats A Bumblebee

September 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Praying Mantis Eats A Bumblebee

Praying Mantis Having A Bite

    The other day I rode around Chatfield reservoir, just south of Denver, Colorado. My unstated goal was to get some photos of flowers because so many of them are blooming right now. Yes, boring, I know but this mission got me out on a five-hour bike ride so I was OK with it and you should be too. About halfway into the ride, I saw a bunch of yellow flowers so I approached and started taking photos. I saw a bumblebee that seemed to be tangled up in a small, dead portion of the plant. This turned out to be a situation of not being able to see the forest for the trees because I was so fixated on trying to figure out how the bee couldn’t free itself that I didn’t realize it was in the clutches of a praying mantis.

Praying Mantis Eats A Bumblebee

Praying Mantis Cleaning Up After Dinner

    What I thought was movement of the bee trying to get away turned out to be the mantis eating the poor thing. At that point I started filming some video that you can see below. I’ve only seen a praying mantis once before and it wasn’t during mealtime so while this wasn’t the most exciting thing I’d ever seen, it was new and different. So, I watched this mantis have dinner and then clean up afterwards. Not a bad day in my humble opinion. Cheers!

Praying Mantis Prays For Me

October 6, 2012 by · 2 Comments 


Praying Mantis

    I live in Imperial Beach, in the extreme southwest corner of San Diego County. Wildlife abounds in IB because it is bordered by a wildlife preserve to the north, the Tijuana Estuary to the south & the Pacific Ocean to the west. Last week I finally saw a praying mantis, an insect I have NEVER seen in person before. I was very impressed with the amount of attention it paid to me as I took some photos. This guy or gal was very aware of me and was very reactive to my movements.


Praying Mantis Looks Up At Me

    This praying mantis was fun to look at and to photograph. I resisted the urge to touch it, but I wanted to. The barbs on it’s grabbers look pretty wicked and since I wasn’t sure if touching it would cause it to fight or flee so I decided to concentrate on looking at the eyes. The eyes of this praying mantis have pupils that move around on the inside of the eyeball. Whatever the mechanics are, it was neat to see and be seen by something as cool as this.


Praying Mantis Asks, “What is right with the world?”

    One could imagine the sharp parts of this insect tearing through the exoskeleton of other insects with ease. When you look at the animal kingdom it’s very important to see what we have relative to our animal brethren; we don’t have sharp claws or teeth, we can’t fly and our vital organs are only protected by a thin layer of skin.

    We do have our brains which enables us to work together, to cooperate and make the world a better place. I recently watched a movie by Tom Shadyac called, “I Am” so I’m feeling a little bit mystical at the moment. If you’ve seen it you should understand where I’m at and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, very highly.

Dragonflies In Otay Valley Regional Park

August 25, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Blue Dragonfly In Otay Valley Park

Dragonfly In Otay Valley Regional Park

    If you like dragonflies then you will want to ride your bike through Otay Valley Regional Park, in Chula Vista between Beyer Boulevard and Interstate 805. That area of the park holds a couple lakes with cattail filled shores and lots of dragonflies. I would very much recommend you take the time to just watch a dragonfly as at flies around. They have what seems like an impossible way of flying; they are able to stop and hover on a dime and can even fly backwards. This makes photographing them in flight very difficult because they are impossible to anticipate. The autofocus on my camera could not keep up at all, so I switched to manual focus which was difficult but yielded better photos. My only advice would be to use a small aperture, so you focal range will be as wide as possible.

Blue Dragonfly In Otay Valley Park

Airborne Dragonflies Are Not Easy To Photograph

    I was amazed at the bright blue color of this particular dragonfly, but it just wouldn’t land. I tracked this one and several others for the better part of an hour and none of them ever landed. That’s why there are only two photos in this post, because these two were the best I was able to do. Dragonflies zip around at all angles and have an instant stop and reverse move that will get you every time.

View Larger Map

West Edge Of Otay Valley Regional Park

    But I digress; Otay Valley Regional Park is a dragonfly lover’s paradise right now, so head out to west Chula Vista with your bike and enjoy the park. There are bathrooms and drinking fountains on the west side of Beyer Boulevard so you don’t need to brink anything other than your camera. You can walk this park, but it is 100 percent bike friendly so that is what I recommend. I entered the park via the southeast edge of Bayshore Bikeway, near Swiss Park (see map above). It’s a great little oasis in the middle of Chula Vista.

Yellowjacket Wasp

July 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


Yellowjacket Wasp

        This yellowjacket wasp was grooming herself when I ran into her. I was taking pictures of some construction in the road when she landed, had a quick bath and left.

Joshua Tree National Park

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees In The National Park

        Even though I have not traveled much in the last ten years, I like to look at the laundry list of places I have been with pride and nostalgia. I have traveled to 5 continents, 18 countries and 17 American states. With any luck at all, those numbers will grow as will my understanding of the world. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2010, I traveled with my cousins to Joshua Tree National Park.

Skull Rock

Joshua Tree Sign

        Skull Rock and The Hall Of Horrors can not be seen anywhere else. You must go to Joshua Tree National Park to see them, and countless other geologic, animalistic and aquatic features. Check out the Joshua Tree website and plan your trip today. A few major things to know: Bring your own water, firewood and DEFINITELY bring your camera.

        Joshua Tree National Park looks like the set of a motion picture where the story takes place on a planet that is not planet Earth. Earlier I mentioned the number of places I have been on this planet, not to brag, but for some perspective. Joshua Tree National Park is not like traveling on Earth, it’s like going the surface of an unknown moon of an unknown planet. The only familiar things are what you carry with you and the people you travel with.

Joshua Tree National Park


        Located about 175 miles from San Diego, 140 miles from Los Angeles and 215 miles from Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park is an easy and interesting place to go for anyone in the southwest United States.

Joshua Tree National Park Flower

Flowers Reside Here Too

        For this journey, I had my trusty Nikon D5000 and two Nikkor lenses. Between these two lenses I covered the photographic spectrum from 18 to 200mm, and I ended up using every single bit of that distance. The one thing that I am lacking with this rig is macro capability; At 200mm, I have to be at least 3 feet away from my subject. Not a big deal, but it is something to consider when shooting flowers and bugs.

Joshua Tree Hummingbird

Hummingbird In Joshua Tree National Park

        The hummingbird you see above had one of the loudest wing beats I have ever heard. It almost sounded like a helicopter in the distance, or a very large bumblebee very near by. Either way, it landed and stood still long enough for me to take a single photo.

Joshua Tree National Park

Rocks And Joshua Trees

        Aside from all the things to see in Joshua Tree National Park, there are a lot of rocks to climb. Seriously, this place is a rock climber’s dream. There are rock formations that that can be stared at for hours or climbed upon for days.

Joshua Tree National Park

An Insect On A Thorny Plant

        For me, one of the best things about going to a National Park, or any outdoor/wilderness setting in general is being able to see the way non-humans live and go about their lives. Since animals do not have to compete with us for life inside a park, we are able (if we quiet our minds and take the time to just look & listen) to physically and personally see just how connected every living thing is. The photo above helps to illustrate how every plant and animal has a reason for being, and that reason is not to be subjugated by people.

Lizard In Joshua Tree National Park

Blue-Belly Lizard

        I saw a lot of lizards during my time in the park, but they are very fast and always seemed to be running away from me towards the cover of the nearest shrub or crack in the rocks. The specimen above was sunning on a rock, and stood still while I approached and photographed him.
        That will bring this post to a close, but stay tuned for another post in the next day or so that will feature some amazing things I saw just north of Joshua Tree National Park. I won’t give it away, but historic Route 66, the town and volcanic crater of Amboy, Roy’s Cafe, shoes and immortalizing myself with rocks are all on the menu. Cheers!

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Butterfly Jungle At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

April 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Zebra Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius charitonia) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonia)

        San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in Encondito, CA just wrapped up a special “Butterfly Jungle” exhibit this past weekend. The entire park, including the butterfly jungle was a great experience and took up an entire Saturday as well as a few days to sort and select my favorite pics from that day. I found that I had too many keepers for one blog post. I’m going to split that exhausting day into three posts: Butterflies, birds and mammals, in that order.
        This post will feature butterflies. These pics were snapped at 1/500th or faster, and most were at full 450mm zoom. That means the ISO was pretty high (1600-3200 ISO) so there is a bit of noise. Since I know next to nothing about what makes a butterfly tick, I won’t sully their wonderful colors or elegant, nectar slurping lives with any more of my words except to say, “Enjoy.”

Orange Barred Tiger Butterfly (Dryadula Phaetusa) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Orange-Barred Tiger (Dryadula phaetusa)

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly(Papilio cresphontes) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

Malachite Butterfly (Siproeta stelenes) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)

Paper Kite Butterfly (Idea leuconoe) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Paper Kite Butterfly (Idea leuconoe)”

Malachite Butterfly (Siproeta stelenes) & Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Malachite (Siproeta stelenes) & Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

Postman Butterfly (Heliconius Melpomene) at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Postman (Heliconius melpomene)

Everyone Look At Me

July 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Egocentric Fly

        Not that it would matter to a capitalist, but this giant fly has one of the biggest egos in the animal & insect kingdom. Why else would it go about life in color, when the world is so clearly black & white?

Tarantula Hawk Kills A Spider

June 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wasp Kills Spider

The Spider’s Eyes Are Like A Doll’s Eyes

        As this wasp tracked down and hunted the spider, one veteran of The Battle of Palm Springs and I were present. Knowing the last living thing this spider would see, besides the wasp that would ultimately see to his demise was me gave me reason to snap his or her photo as the light went out out it’s eye.

        The eye of the spider showed defeat and when the wasp dragged the spider under a shrub, I wondered if the spider had a mind anything like mine, and what terrors would be going through that mind, if it did.