10 Close-Up Shots of Dragonflies

© Pieter Van Dokkum
© Pieter Van Dokkum

Photographer and astronomer Pieter van Dokkum had been attracted to dragonflies for several years, but it wasn't until he stumbled across a quaint pond in New England, dotted with hundreds of dragonflies, that van Dokkum decided to make a book. The photographer waded in the pond, spent nights waiting for the right shot, and even lost a few shoes. The result is the delightful Dragonflies: Magnificent Creatures of Water, Air, and Land, which showcases and celebrates the insects' inherent beauty.

The book starts with the tiny beginnings of the dragonfly, with the transformation of the nymphs. These flightless newborns go through a transformation (similar to caterpillars) that takes an entire night to complete. Van Dokkum then follows the full life of dragonflies, up until the end of dragonfly season in fall. About a third of the pictures come from that New England pond, while the others come from different parts of America and the Netherlands. 

Van Dokkum compares the dragonflies to fairies, and it’s not hard to see why. The delicate creatures exhibit amazing colors and beauty that almost seems otherworldly. Here are some select images from Dragonflies

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Stained glass wing. The Wings have a complex, rigid surface that is maintained by a network of veins. The subtle colors of this immature Black Meadowhawk are caused by sunlight reflecting off the still not quite transparent wings."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Thermoregulation. Dragonflies regulate their body temperature by angling their bodies to maximize or minimize the area exposed to the sun. When temperatures are high around midday, perching dragonflies such as this Halloween Pennant may point their abdomen straight up, to absorb as little heat as possible ('obelisking')."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Calico Pennant, female."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Hide and Seek. Damselflies are light sleepers—insofar as insects sleep at all. Even when they are cold and covered in dew, they tend to move away from whatever is approaching them and hide behind the plant they are clinging to. A curious eyeball may be the only part of the damselfly that is visible to predators—and cameras!"

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Common Green Darner. This large dragonfly is perhaps the most iconic of American species. They spend a lot of time on the wing, patrolling over ponds and hunting above meadows. Some populations of Common Green Darners are migratory, flying from the southern to the northern United States and Canada in the spring, with their offspring returning south in the autumn."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Flame Skimmer, male"

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Flame Skimmer, male."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Female Seaside Dragonlet. Dragonflies typically require fresh water to reproduce. The Seaside Dragonlet is the only American dragonfly that breeds in salt water. It does not venture far from the coast, and may be found in salt marshes and tidal flats."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Variable Darner, eating a butterfly."

© Pieter Van Dokkum

"Damselfly nursery. Some plants are very popular with egg-laying damselflies."

For more pictures, purchase the book here. 

Beyond Tiger King: 10 Fascinating Animal Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now

A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
Markham Street Films

By now, you've probably already binged Netflix's bewilderingly bonkers docuseries Tiger King (2020). If you're ready to dive deeper into the animal kingdom, there are plenty more documentaries out there. From wildcats to whales, these 10 films will take you on a cinematic adventure around the world, introducing you to captivating creatures and the people who love them.

1. The Tigers of Scotland (2017)

The Tigers of Scotland (2017) brings viewers as up close and personal as possible with a small but mighty feline: the Scottish wildcat. The film delves into the efforts to conserve the disappearing Highland tiger, as well as the history and mythology surrounding the UK’s only “big cat.”

Watch it: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

2. Ghost of The Mountains (2017)

This 2017 Disneynature documentary will transport you to the world’s highest plateau in search of a family of snow leopards. These cats are famously tough to find, so Ghost of the Mountains offers viewers behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s like to track the elusive beasts.

Watch it: Netflix, Google Play, Youtube

3. Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

This delightful documentary takes you deep into the competitive cat show circuit. Both charming and at times cutthroat, the film brings viewers on a journey to see which of the many cool cats and kittens will be crowned Canada's top cat.

Watch it: Netflix

4. Kingdom of the White Wolf (2019)

Follow along as a National Geographic explorer and photographer embeds with a white wolf pack in the high Arctic. These wild wolves aren't used to seeing people, giving the filmmakers—and audience—an intimate window into the pack's daily lives and familial bonds. In addition to showcasing captivating footage of the animals, the three-part docuseries also features sweeping views of the starkly beautiful Ellesmere Island.

Watch it: Disney+, YouTube TV

5. Dogs (2018)

This docuseries, which highlights various dogs and their humans from around the world, celebrates the bond between people and their pups. But it’s more than just a montage of feel-good moments about humankind’s best friend: Each episode tells a broader tale about the human condition, crafting an emotional narrative that pulls at the heartstrings like a puppy tugging on a toy.

Watch it: Netflix

6. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

These birds will put your dad moves to shame. Watch the male avian performers shimmy, shake, and flash their feathers while attempting to woo their female mates. The documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, offers a colorful look at the wonderfully wacky world of bird mating rituals.

Watch it: Netflix

7. Honeyland (2019)

This documentary follows Hatidze Muratova, one of the last wild beekeepers in a remote village in North Macedonia. She lives with her ailing mother, nurturing a traditional way of beekeeping passed down through the generations and striking a balance between making a living and maintaining ecological balance. But everything changes when a nomadic family settles nearby, threatening Muratova’s way of life. The resulting story is both sweet and stinging.

Watch it: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

8. Virunga (2014)

This 2014 documentary highlights the park rangers fighting to protect the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As poaching and oil exploration threaten the park, the rangers and conservationists risk their lives to guard the rare creatures that inhabit it.

Watch it: Netflix

9. Harry & Snowman (2016)

In the 1950s, Harry deLayer bought Snowman, a run-down plow horse destined for slaughter, for just $80 at an auction. Within months, the two were taking the show jumping circuit by storm, launching both horse and rider to new heights. This documentary tells the story of the friendship the two developed, and chronicles their lives both in and out of the competitive spotlight.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

10. The Whale and the Raven (2019)

The waters around Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest are a haven for whales, who feed and find refuge in the quiet channels. With stunning visuals, this documentary highlights the tension of a community’s push to protect its wild places against the pressures of the ever-encroaching natural gas industry.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

Why Cats Like to Shove Their Butts in Your Face, According to an Animal Behavior Expert

This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
Okssi68/iStock via Getty Images

Cats are full of eccentric behaviors. They hate getting wet. Their tongues sometimes get stuck midway out of their mouths, known as a “blep.” And they’re really happy hanging out in bodegas.

Some of these traits can be explained while others are more mysterious. Case in point: when they stick their rear end in your face for no apparent reason.

Are cats doing this just to humiliate their hapless caregivers? What would possess a cat to greet a person with its butt? Why subject the person who gives you food and shelter to such degradation?

To find out, Inverse spoke with Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. According to Delgado, cats don’t necessarily perceive their rectal flaunting as anything aggressive or domineering. In fact, it might be a cat’s way of saying hello.

“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity,” Delgado said. “It’s hard for us to relate to, but for them, smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is. So cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”

For a cat, presenting or inspecting a butt is a kind of fingerprint scan. It’s a biological measure of security.

Other experts agree with this assessment, explaining that cats use their rear end to express friendliness or affection. Raising their tail so you can take a whiff is a sign of trust. If they keep their tail down, it’s possible they might be feeling a little shy.

If you think this situation is eased by the fact you rarely hear cats fart, we have bad news. They do. Because they don’t often gulp air while eating, they just don’t have enough air in their digestive tract to make an audible noise. Rest assured that, statistically speaking, there will be times a cat giving you a friendly greeting is also stealthily farting in your face.

[h/t Inverse]