Amar Kumar Nayak

Small Wonderland: A world of Insects & Spiders

Small Wonderland: A world of Insects & Spiders

By Amar Nayak

Download the full Newsletter August PDF by clicking the below button –
IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019 (7.6 MB, 117 downloads)

In this beautiful blue planet we are not the only intelligent species. There are many other intelligent species living on this Planet Earth. In fact they surround us and they manage to live with us. There are lots of tiny creatures living with us in our bedroom though we often fail to notice their presence. Many naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts too forget to count them in their wildlife notebooks! Photographers focus on clicking photographs of large mammals and birds. But wildlife photography means not only photography of huge, rare or vulnerable animals but also documenting the entire natural world. Remember the times when we as kids used to run around our backyard chasing butterflies? So as adults with a camera in hand, why not chase those colourful bugs and bees in our backyard? We are likely to find an astounding number of species waiting for a photo session in our backyard, if we keep our eyes and ears open then and if we know where and when to find them.

I had started my photographic journey with dragonflies and predictably my first love is clicking these tiny but colourful and incredibly interesting creatures. The following brief introduction to some of the commonly found species in our backyard may be of help to initiate others in such a journey.


Dragonflies & Damselflies

Medium to big sized flies sometimes attracted by light and entered into our house. Most interesting fact about these insects is they sit on same place again and again. They love to eat, kill and eat hurriedly like hopper. The order Odonata (Pneoroptera) represents two sub-orders Anisoptera (Dragonflies) & Zygoptera (Damselflies). Odonates are one of the dominating aquatic (larval stage) & terrestrial (mature stage) insects, flying over ponds, streams, rivers, forest and meadows. Odonates spend maximum time of their life around water bodies. So the best place to observe an Odonate is near the water bodies. These fliers even can fly backward, move vertically like a helicopter or stop in turn in the midst of a most rapid progression. Dragonflies are strong fliers even they chase intruders. Damselflies are agile fliers and can be observed throughout the year near water bodies. They are good predators of mosquitoes and flies.



Antlions are a group of insects of the family Myrmeleontidae, There are about 2,000 species, and the closest living relatives are the owl flies. The term “Antlion” applies to the larval form of the members of this family. The adult has two pairs of long, narrow, multi-veined wings in which the apical veins enclose regular oblong spaces, and a long, slender abdomen.



The Antlion larvae eat small arthropods (mainly ants), while the adults of some species eat small pollen and nectar. Antlions are active in evening like all Odonates. The adult Antlions are rarely seen in the day because it is typically active only in the evening, but they fly at night for mating! They are highly active in desert regions. Antlions are distributed worldwide. Antlions are easily distinguished from damselflies (Odonata) by their prominent, apically clubbed antennae which are about as long as head and thorax combined. Also the pattern of wing venation is different.


Owlflies are dragonflies like insects belonging to the Ascalaphidae family and are in the order Neuroptera. They are considered as the closest relative of Antlion. Basic difference between Odonate & Owlfly is their bristle-like antennae which are found in Antlions too! Owl-flies are good fliers although they spend most of their time in resting on a stem. Many of them hold their wings spread while resting like dragonflies. They hunt flying insects in their flight and feed on little insects. Some species of Owlflies are active in day & night both. Adult have large divided eyes which may be the source of their name –”owl fly”! Owl flies are worldwide in distribution.


Paper Wasp:

Paper wasps use their saliva and plant stem to make such nests. Paper wasps are widely distributed in India and belong to Vespidae family.

Paper wasp

Jewel Bug:

Jewel bugs (Chrysocoris stolli) belong to the Scutelleridae family. They are widely distributed in Indian bushes. Jewel bugs are named for their brilliant colouration. Due to their colorful skin they are sometimes caught by designers.

Jewel bug

Short-horned Grasshopper:

This is a picture of Locust swarming phase of certain species of Short-horned Grasshopper under Acrididae family. They are widely distributed. They tend enter our homes attracted by light at night.

Short-horned Grasshopper

Signature Spider:

Signature Spider (Argiope Sp.) is a species of Orb spiders of Araneidae family. It is named after its signature like zigzag pattern over its nest. Widely distributed in India, prefer to build their nest in small bushy areas. Good predator of small insects. This spider is also known as writing spider or garden spider.

Signature Spider

Giant Wood Spider:

Giant Wood Spider (Nephila pilipes) is a species of Golden Orb-Web Spider, widely distributed in India & some other Asian countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka. Females are large in size and glowing. This spider weaves a big web in small forest or in Indian gardens. A good predator of bees, butterflies, dragonflies, moths even small birds.

Giant Wood Spider Male & Female

Download the full Newsletter August PDF by clicking the below button –
IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF-August-2019 (7.6 MB, 117 downloads)
Amar Kumar Nayak