Photographing WA’s colourful insects

By AG Staff March 6, 2018
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The colours and patterns of these outback insects may be pretty, but they’re mostly for defence.

SU RAMMOHAN’S home in Bunbury, Western Australia is located in the state’s south-west region, one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in the world.

For an amateur entomologist and macro photographer, it’s a treasure chest made up of colourful cockroaches and gorgeous, metallic jewel beetles.

“Bunbury opened my eyes to the world of insects. I found this wonderful world of insects and spiders that is hidden in plain sight.

“It is a mini universe on its own.  The colours, structure and symmetry fascinate me,” Su tells Australian Geographic.

Su runs an Instagram and blog known as the Insect Diary, which has accrued a loyal following of people eager to see what she finds and photographs next.

For Su, rather than being captivated by pretty colours, she’s interested in the insects’ constant struggle to survive in outback WA.

“When we see a beautiful bug with bright colours, it is often a survival trait to ward off predators. When an ‘ugly’ moth is camouflaged against a tree bark, it is trying to protect itself. The wing structure of a dragonfly may seem delicate but it is one of the strongest fliers.

“There is beauty in natural processes. There are millions of years of evolutionary work behind every structure and behaviour. I like capturing that in photos.”

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Peacock spider.

wa insects

Blue banded bees.

wa insects

Ground shield bug.

Bush cockroaches not pests

Su’s most popular images are those of colourful bush cockroaches, which she says is because people aren’t use to the idea of “pretty cockroaches.”

“Like most people, I was afraid of cockroaches. A beautiful cockroach may sound like an oxymoron but these native cockroaches are indeed beautiful.

“The Bush Cockroach is a beautiful golden cockroach with a lace overlay. The Mardi Gras Cockroach, that is found in WA has got such stunning colours that it is hard to imagine it as a cockroach!”

“Looking at insects and spiders closely makes people forget their prejudices and look at them through a new perspective.”