"Nat Geo" moments while iNatting

Since iNaturalist is supported in part by National Geographic, and this week is Explorers Festival, I thought it would be fun to share your most “Nat Geo” type moment while iNatting.

Mine happened tonight. I went out dip netting for aquatic macroinvertebrates this evening and as usual, scooped up damselfly larva. One of them swam over to another, grabbed it, and would not let go until the grabbed damselfly had been cut in half. You can see the bisected damselfly here.

I had no idea that damselflies preyed on each other.


I think one of the more surprising “Nat Geo” moments I’ve seen is this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/113919439
A magpie (Pica pica) tried to kill a spotless starling (Sturnus unicolor). Finally the starling could escape.


One cool thing I remember is seeing house centipede behavior which is probably more “normal” than hiding and scurrying in your basement

There were centipedes on flowers:

They were taking up positions to ambush pollinators, and used their long legs to grab and kills moths:

I had never saw this or even thought house centipedes hunted like this


I haven’t posted it yet, but a few weeks ago in Texas, I spotted a Pepsis wasp (ie. Tarantula Hawk Wasp) running around on the ground. Turns out she had just managed to catch a Tarantula, and was trying to relocate it. When she did, she started dragging it backwards towards her hole – but then stopped partway there, and did the whole search thing again, first for her hole, then for the spider. It took several iterations of this, and then she pulled the thing down into the hole, abdomen first, with the feet being the last things to disappear.


Nice thread, and hope it fills out with lots of great anecdotes and observations.

Being outdoors a lot has allowed quite a few Nat geo moments. Not all of them have been captured

Etched in the Brain

  1. ) In early August 1997 - I was part of the support crew for a team of women traversing the Himalaya.It was snowing while we approached a 16000 feet pass and so could not get over and camped at the base at night. Very early next morning we woke up to see a “pace” of Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) silhouetted on the pass. Breathtaking and amazing. Later they moved off on the other side.

2.) Earlier on the same trip referred above I was leading the group up a narrow gully, after exiting which we emerged on to small flattish plateau , at around 11000 feet altitude. It was late morning. A Musk Deer (Genus Moschus -Unsure if Moschus leucogaster or Moschus chrysogasterr most likely from habitat it should be the latter) was asleep in the sun. I did not see it till i was fairly close, suddenly alerted the deer woke up and disappeared in a fraction of a second up a steep rocky slope.


In the recent past the following

  1. This burying beetle covered in phoretic mites. It just popped up hung around for a few minutes and then left. How it was able to fly and navigate covered in such mites I have no idea.

  2. This Indochinese leopard cat - just watching us through bushes, thinking it was hidden.


A few memorable ones
Robber fly eating honey bee
Longhorn bee chasing off longhorn cuckoo bee (last frame)
Crab spider catching bee fly
Woolcarder bees caught in the act
Mating stilt bugs interrupted by another species of stilt bug


I’ve had 3 of these Nat Geo moments, only one that I recorded using iNat though.

  1. During a walk in mid-June, I saw a male monarch forcibly mate with a female monarch, behaviour which is common among butterflies.
  2. A jumping spider tried to ambush a Common Whitetail dragonfly by hiding in the sidewalk cracks. It failed, and the dragonfly got away.
  3. Several ants were eating a larva… live! It periodically twitched, as if to try and throw the ants off, but no such luck. When I checked back after an hour, the ants had carried off bits of the body.
    Video: ants eating larva.mp4 - Google Drive

Two separate crab spiders eating periodical cicadas. I didn’t think they could handle these guys



In Africa suddenly a dark blotch fell out of the sky right in front of me. It was a gruesome fight that went on for quite a while with lots of wings flapping. In the moment I did not completely get what was going on and at some point I thought those two were maybe somehow unwillingly stuck to each other. So I went to interfere and only in the last second the top rival let go and flew away… the other one followed just seconds after

Diving all alone with playful sea lions and two friends I for sure felt like an explorer in a nature documentary… amazing feeling

In an danish forest I observed a syrphid larvae hunting down an aphid and I recall how amazed I was by that observation. Never were able to observe the hunt again since

One of the most breathtaking observations was again in Africa. Togehter with a collegue and friend I was in a camp that was otherwise empty. When a horde of velvet monkeys invaded the camp there was suddenly a lot of screaming and action. The monkeys had found the chicks of this owl and tried to fetch one. The owl did an amazing job in defending its chicks for what felt like an eternity, and at some point the monkeys left without having success. I was holding my breath the whole time and was happy to see an happy ending that day


:roll_eyes:that OB reminds me of spiders or scorpions that carry their young on their backs.

Crab spiders have a very potent toxin that immobilizes their prey very quickly… that´s the reason they can handle prey much larger and stronger then themselfs.

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A sky full of Snow Geese is up there for me.


Here are some of mine where I caught the video

Seemingly, a reunion between nearly grown coyotes and their mother:



A lacewing carries it’s preys’ remains for camo (?)



A coyote catches breakfast


Hummingbird is alive



Whale leaps




I love all of your Himalayan stories!
For me the latest were a pair of Siberian Tattlers that I watcher over, hiding behind a rock, they were half-asleep, then male started walking, caught something and gave it to the female, and the other one were two separate water deer sights https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117296932 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117296936, apparently very common there, they jump like hares and run that way very fast, seeing them on a plaine covered by new grass and rare bushes and mountains on the background was amazing! Sadly, my lens had severe backfocus, so those photos aren’t great. Also hearing Siberian Roe Deer pair at night was wild, I knew those are deer, but my husband was sure that’s either tiger or leopard. :D


the little creatures on the beetle’s back are poecilochirus mites that use the burying beetles as a way to catch a ride to carrion. the beetles eat the carrion and use it to feed their babies, and the mites eat fly eggs that are also on/around the carrion. both the beetles and the mites benefit because the mites get transportation to meals and the beetles have some of their competition (flies) removed! however in this case i agree, the mite load seems quite excessive lol i have no idea how the beetle could fly with that many mites

as for the species of burying beetle under all those mites, my guess would be nicrophorus nepalensis. supported by location, three orange segments on the clubs (little fluffy things on the tip of the antennae), and straight hind tibia. but i am not super knowledgeable on silphidae so don’t put too much faith in that lol

edit: forgot about nicrophorus humator, maybe that. hopefully someone will have a definitive id that actually knows what they’re doing!


I’m going to recycle a reply I made to this thread:

I went to Gri Gri Lagoon. There is a mangrove forest there, with a cattle egret nesting colony, but I didn´t know whether there would be nests at this season. As I was walking along the edge of the colony, suddenly, I was transported into a wildlife documentary. There was a black crowned night heron, and I noticed the way it moved as it climbed the tree – almost cat-like – was it stalking a nest? It was. Before my eyes, it snatched an egret chick, by the head. But the chick was heavy and strong, and struggled free. At the end of the struggle, the chick was dangling from a branch by one foot. Of course there was a great to-do among the egrets; and the to-do attracted a yellow crowned night heron and a vulture – opportunists. The chick eventually struggled back onto the branch and perched there, but I did not see it make any attempt to climb back to the nest. And by that time, I did not see either of the two night herons.


@teelbee and your comments reminded me this huntsman spider and its babies,

and it also reminded me of another Nat Geo Moment,

The emergence of nymph mantids from an Ootheca that we were observing for a few days. Just looking at the spongy static ootheca one could not know what was happening inside, and then one day the ootheca and the nearby area were covered in 100’s of nymph mantids.

@snake_smeuse Thank you very much.

May I request you to please make the same comment on the observation as well. This is a so fascinating.

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Your comments remind me that every now and then we should write such commentary along with the observations. Provides context and a connection to the emotion felt by the observer.


We watched a fishing spider grab and eat a tadpole a weekend or two back (it’s one of my observations from Athens, TX). Spider on the water, tadpoles swimming around then GRAB.

My kids narrated it and were rapt for a solid stretch of time. I know it’s sentimental but I tried to impart some degree of seriousness to it since they were mostly going on about how cool it was.