It was while exploring Banteay Kdei temple ruins when I first saw a Praying Mantis out in the wild. While this is no big deal to many people, we don’t have those in Canada so I was pretty excited to have spotted it there and gotten a chance to take pictures.
This little bug was trying to look inconspicuous by sitting on a stone heated by the sun. Unfortunately, I only had my wide angle lens with me so the chances of taking a decent close up picture of it were nonexistent. Having had no previous experience with Praying Mantises, I didn’t know how vicious they were with humans.
Even though I didn’t have appropriate lens on my camera, I still wanted to take at least some pictures of it but with wide angle lens on, the only way get it was by shoving the camera in its face (even then too broad of an area would be captured, but that’s all I could do). But what are Praying Mantises capable of? Will it jump on my hand when I get too close and bite? I didn’t know for sure so I kept what I considered a safe distance.
I’ve seen many more Praying Mantises since and never had any of them attempt to attack me so I’m guessing my concerns were unfounded. I even had Praying Mantises spring out of the grass and land on my leg on a few occasions but there’s never been any attempt to bite me or anything of sort. So I guess after some experience with those I can safely assume that although Praying Mantises are pretty vicious with insects they feed on, when it comes to objects much larger in size, they play it nice.
It’s no secret that South East Asia is home to some pretty freaky creatures. For someone like me, who came to Cambodia from Canada, this instant exposure to leagues of tropical insects felt overwhelmingly exciting. Seeing cockroaches three times the size of those from back home made me realize that random encounters with oversized, gnarly bugs will be a daily reality from now on. And so it was.
Even though I was the only one around who got excited and pulled out the camera each time I spotted a gnarly bug, it bugged (no pun intended) me not. Because of extreme heat, I could not carry all of my photography gear with me all the time as it would require carrying heavy bag on my back. One sweats excessively even without extra weight. Nevermind the fact that excessive heat wears you out like you wouldn’t believe. Heavy bags would make this struggle far more challenging.
And as Murphy’s Law would have it, I have never had my fast telephoto lens on me when an interesting bug crossed my path. That’s always a bummer. It’s near impossible to take pictures of bugs with a wide angle lens. You can only do it if the bug end fly within your vicinity and doesn’t take off again when you show your camera right in its face, literally just inches from its antennae.
Some occasional opportunities do arise though. The beetle in these pictures was over 2 inches long and was pacing its way alongside the pathway lining the east bank of the Siem Reap River in Cambodian Siem Reap. Because it didn’t seem to heed my presence and because I really didn’t care about the locals standing nearby thinking I must be weird for taking pictures of what’s to them a pretty average beetle, I did shove my wide angle lens in its face and snapped a few. My initiation to taking photos of gnarly bugs in Cambodia has been successfully concluded. Ability to handle the heat was much tougher to handle.