Juvenile African whip scorpion (Damon diadema) feeding on a two week old cricket
I’ve come to realize that I take great pleasure in photographing animals when they are feeding…especially if the critter in question is a predator (and the food, obviously, is its prey). Part of the reason is simply the fact that “action” photos tend to be more interesting than portraits—but not always so easy to take. But I also just take inordinate pleasure in observing arthropods eating. That’s a little weird isn’t it?
A few weeks ago I received some nice captive bred juvenile Damon diadema whip scorpions from a breeder in Quebec. Whip scorpions (also known as the tailless whip scorpions) belong to the order Amblypygi which are found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. D. diadema is one of the largest species with a leg span reaching about 20 cm (8 inches). The species ranges through Central and East Africa.
I “met” my first whip scorpion in the Amazon jungle one night back in the 90s. I shone my flashlight on this amazing beast as big as my hand and it was love at first sight.
My specimens are still very small, with a body length of approximately one centimeter and a leg span of a little more than a loonie (about 30 mm for those non-Canadians out there). The photo above is a nice picture of one of them making friends with a two week old cricket (aka dinner).
The photo couldn’t have been much easier to take. Each whip scorpion is housed in a clear plastic container (originally designed to sit in your fridge filled with baking soda) along with a large piece of bark and a moist substrate. The whip scorpions hang out on the nearly vertical bark. I set up my gear and waited until the critter was distracted by dinner. Then I just popped the top of the container off, and while holding the camera in one hand I lifted the bark up until the whip scorpion was clear of the plastic. Took the photo, and put the bark back. Easy-peasy!
These are great critters! And it’s always nice to see them enjoying their food. I guess that makes me either overly motherly or particularly demonic, depending on whether you are a whip scorpion or a cricket…
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Lens: Zuiko 60mm micro four thirds macro
Settings: manual exposure (F11 @ 1/200 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (TTL)